Planking: The Organization of Random Humor

Planking, otherwise known as “The lying down game”, has evidently been around for a while but I just learned about it.  It’s totally absurd (a guaranteed hit with me) and involves lying down on one’s face in random, incongruous, often public places, and then holding a prescribed, rigid position with arms pressed against one’s sides, legs and torso stiff and straight, and fingers and toes pointed.

All very crisp and gymnastic, with just a hint of narcolepsy.

Eventually, players started taking pictures and posting them on Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and blogs, after which the game evolved into an internet fad.  A competitive element crept in…participants attempting to one-up each other with increasingly creative choices in locale, composition, theme, and scale of danger…which inevitably led to a couple of arrests and at least one tragic death.

Overall though, it’s another splendid example of the new, broad-based, spontaneous organizational power of the internet, a phenomenon that fascinates me.  (Think Arab Spring and flash mobs.)  There’s something about the way this group-mind communication spreads that vaguely reminds me of those huge flocks of birds all flying in unison, or the big schools of fish which turn and flash simultaneously.  I wonder if we humans are wired with a latent gene, too, directing us to coordinate and move together across vast numbers, but it wasn’t until the internet came along that this gene could finally “turn on.”

In any case, the comedy in play with this game is a mix of farce, slapstick, and nonsensism.  (Yes, there really is such a thing.  Look it up.)  And me?  I just call it delightful.

Here are a few of my favorite examples set to “One potato, Two potato…”  Enjoy.

One plank:

Two plank:

Three plank:


Beer plank:

Wedding plank:

Fast food:


Pole plank:

Fridge plank:

Chopper plank:


Sand plank:

Water plank:

Air plank:


Still haven’t had enough?  Well, just a few more then.  (But after this you’ll have to go to for satisfaction.)

Here’s the “For godsakes let’s keep a sense of humor men…” plank:

A couple of dead-pan bactrian comedians getting in on the game:

My arch enemy (oh if only…):

And an imaginative, not to mention bath-averse, dog:

Last but not least, here’s something from the country that came up with the fabulous name, Planking. It’s a newscast from Australia with a report on the phenomenon.  Those Aussies…I tell ya.  I really, really love their sense of humor.

(Planking has a Facebook page and a Wikipedia site.  People post their planking photos just about anywhere on the web and then various websites compile “best of’s”.  These particular photos came from Geekosystem’s The 65 Best Planking Pictures From Around the World.) 

copyright Dia Osborn 2011