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Hulu Pranks: The Joke’s on Who?

April 4th, 2011 by Jason Nellis Content Partner Manager

Hulu has been getting a lot of attention for its pranks recently. We even let you in on our last one. But one in-office prank this year took April Fools Day to a new level—and maybe a higher level of consciousness. We thought we should let you know about it. – Ed.

VP of Distribution Pete Distad is known for many things: his ability to manage the complexities of business negotiations, his down-to-earth sensibilities, and his terrific sense of humor. Sadly, the one thing he’s terrible at is following through on performing pranks. As seen in the recent Hulu blog post regarding our history, Pete claimed “This year, the joke’s on them.” But April Fool’s Day has come and gone, and Pete has made no attempt to prank those of us who, year after year, convert his desk into any number of ridiculous settings (golf course, tin-foil palace, kid’s balloon party).

So this year, we decided to raise the bar a bit and see what new and interesting things we could do to Pete’s desk. One challenge, however, was that he, like the rest of our executive staff, no longer work in offices. Virtually everyone at Hulu now resides in open-space cubes. While this helps further our goals of expanding and preserving the Hulu culture, it makes it pretty difficult to come up with a good office-based prank. Ideas were thrown around, but nothing seemed to work. One idea was too expensive, another was too messy, and another wasn’t feasible in a short amount of time.

But then, the bar was raised to a whole new level.

Suggested by former Hulugan Zack Seely, who used to work on Pete’s team, a group of about 20 folks stayed extra late on Thursday night to convert Pete’s desk into the Secret Zen Garden you see above, complete with Buddhist Prayer Flags, floating hand-crafted paper cranes, and roughly 1,000 pounds of sand. River stones now provide the texture his desk as missing, and the soft music of a store-bought Zen CD now fill the moments. (As we like to say at Hulu, we sweat every pixel. But in this instance, it’s safe to say that we sweat every grain of sand.)

This endeavor, which totaled about three hours of late-night work, was worth every moment, as Pete wasn’t so much shocked at the sight of his desk, but amazed at the craftsmanship of the prank. So much so, in fact, that he’s decided to keep the desk as-is for now. In fact, maybe that’s the prank Pete had planned all along – that we’d convert his desk into something he’d really enjoy, and rather than spend the time doing it himself, he’d find a way to get us to do it.

Regardless of Pete’s potentially nefarious intentions, we’d like to thank Pete for being such a good sport all these years. Maybe next year he’ll surprise all of us at our desks; but until then, we’ll be quietly generating ideas ourselves. I hear fake snow is easy to purchase this time of year…

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