April Fools’ Day stories are a time-honored tradition in television news. You often see reporters do stories which appear to be true, but then you find out the joke is on you. The key to a great April Fools’ Day story is believability; it must look as if it’s actually true before the punch line. 

I did an April Fools’ Day story every year (one had pasta growing on trees), and on one occasion, April 1st fell very close to Easter. I thought it might be fun to have an Easter theme for the story, so after we kicked around a few ideas in the newsroom, I settled on the following: Easter bunnies lay colored eggs, while regular rabbits lay white eggs. 

If you already knew rabbits don’t lay eggs, you would probably assume this gag would not work. 

You would be wrong. 

Why? Because television is a visual medium. If I could create video of a rabbit hatching out of an egg, I could sell this story. I needed that money shot. 

But first, I needed two things to pull this off: Eggs, and someone who had newborn rabbits. 

Luckily we found a rabbit farm in the area and the owners agreed to play along with the ruse. They explained the difference between an Easter bunny and a regular rabbit, and how they laid different colored eggs — doing this all with a straight face, mind you! 

We then “seeded” the rabbit hutch with a bunch of eggs. The owner gathered them into a basket, shaking her head in disappointment because there were too many white eggs. 

Then it was time for the money shot. One rabbit had recently given birth, and a bunch of little babies the size of newborn kittens were crawling around. We put one eggshell nearby and a baby bunny crawled in … and then out again. Amazingly, it actually looked as if it had just hatched. That would be the final shot in the story. (In case you’re wondering, no rabbits were harmed in the production of this tale.) 

When the story aired on April Fools’ Day, one reporter who had never been on a farm said, “Huh. I didn’t know rabbits laid eggs.” Success! 

I often wonder how many people fell for that ruse since someone on our own news team did. It probably helped that Cadbury was running a TV commercial at that time with a rabbit clucking like a chicken as it walked away from chocolate eggs. 

Of course, parents have been telling little kids for years, “The Easter bunny left some colored eggs for you.” So my ruse wasn’t that original after all…

Randy Tatano is the author of more than 20 novels, writing political thrillers under the pen name Nick Harlow and romantic comedies as Nic Tatano. He spent 30 years working in television news as a local affiliate reporter and network field producer.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.

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