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The Extremely Scientific Guide to the Pie in the Face Gag

When the moon hits your eye like a big pie-in-the-face that’s amoré! That’s how the song goes, right?

Daniel Fernandez · 5 months ago

Note: Here at Camp, we are big fans of shenanigans, antics, and hijinks (oh, my!) but only the kinds that bring laughter and joy. We do not condone nor do we endorse any kinds of pranks that may cause harm to others. 

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Happy Pi(e) Day, friends! In honor of such a momentous and tasty occasion, I present to you the only guide you will ever need to perform one of the most time-honored and wonderful practical jokes known to mankind.

Sharpen your pencils and take some notes as we explore the extremely scientific guide to the pie in the face gag!

Pieing History 101 

Yes, you read that title correctly. The tried and true pie to the face gag has an actual name, “Pieing.” 

Pieing tends to come up in the type of comedy — known as “slapstick” — that incorporates props and exaggerated physical elements. Think “The Three Stooges,” “Mr. Bean,” or “Dumb and Dumber.”

Slapstick humor was born out of the Italian style of theater known as commedia dell’arte, so every time a delicious pie goes SPLAT against an unsuspecting face, someone is paying homage to a form of theater that dates all the way back to the 16th century (you go, you thespian you!) 

With four centuries to practice it, people got pretty good at connecting pies and faces in novel theatrical ways. This incredible sequence from the 1965 film “The Great Race,” for instance, took five days to film.

OK, now that you’ve got a little bit of pie history under your belt, let’s take things into the pie present, and learn the essential steps required to execute a perfect pie in the face. 

Test Run!

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GIPHY - Parks And Recreation Pie / NBC

It’s important to remember that not everyone will find the same things funny that you do, so it is of utmost importance that the person you plan on pieing can take a joke! 

I strongly recommend a prank test run to see just how your future victi- I mean, uh, “esteemed pie recipient” will react to a good old fashioned practical joke. Here are some options to wet your whistle:

Practice Your Form

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GIPHY - Arrested Development / Fox Broadcasting Company

It's easy to think that pieing someone is all fun and games (I mean, it kinda is), but serving up a pie to the face requires a steady hand, laser sharp focus, and an iron will. Above all, it requires precision, great aim, and just the right touch!

You don’t want to miss your one shot (insert obligatory "Hamilton" reference here) and you definitely don’t want to accidentally hurt someone in the process, so make sure you get in your practice reps before the big moment! 

Here are some fun toys we strongly recommend to make sure your arm is in tip top shape. 

Misdirection, Diversions, Distractions, Oh My!

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GIPHY - Shia LaBeouf on SNL on NBC

Take it from someone who has taken many a pie to the face in the past, this gag has way more of an impact if the person you’re pieing doesn’t see it coming!

It helps to distract the person you’re pieing and shift their attention onto something else in order to maximize the effect of your surprise pie. 

From shaking a magic ball and waiting for a response to pulling some rabbits out of a hat, here are a few of my favorite distractions.

Get Creative!

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GIPHY - Robin Williams Face GIF By 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Sure you’ve got your basic, run-of-the-mill, standard issue, everyday pies like cream, lemon meringue, apple, and blueberry, but what if I told you that ANY pie technically counts?!

That’s right, you can use a pizza pie, shepherd's pie, chicken pot pie, heck, why not even a pie chart? 

Pro tip: You can also load up a paper plate with whipped cream or shaving cream and use that instead. This option comes in handy if you aren’t able to get your hands on an actual pie OR if you don’t feel like wasting a perfectly good one!

Check Your Checklist!

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GIPHY - Will Ferrell / NBA

I know you’re chomping at the bit to serve up some pies to some faces but what really sets apart the amateurs from the pros is your pre-pie-to-the-face checklist. For all of the uninitiated/first timers out there, here are a few more things to do in order to have a successful pieing: 

Pick Your Recipient: This person must be trusting, unassuming, and have a great sense of humor!  

Allergy Check: If the person you plan on pieing has strong allergic reactions to blueberries, maybe you go with the cherry pie instead, ya know? 

Clean Up Time: In order to have a great pieing, have some towels, washcloths, and water at the ready to take care of the big mess you’re about to make. 

Wind Speed: Serving up a pie-to-the-face to someone in the middle of a hurricane may not be the best idea… I speak from experience. 

Taste Test: Lastly and most importantly, it is your civic duty and moral responsibility to ensure that the pie you are about to serve up to an unsuspecting someone is at the very least tasty! 

Happy pieing!

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GIPHY - Episode 4 of The Office / NBC