John Lindsay launched DontEvenReply.com in June 2009, taking prank emails to another level as he interacted with individuals he found by way of Craigslist and reveled in their gullibility. Posing as a customer or seller, Lindsay responded to a variety of classified ads, making ridiculous offers to unsuspecting victims. With a unique ability to incite exasperation, confusion and rage — sometimes all three simultaneously — Lindsay’s site became an internet sensation.
In April of 2010, Lindsay released Emails from an A**hole: Real People Being Stupid, the book version of his immensely popular site.
It started back when I was in college and my car’s transmission blew up. I was going through Craigslist trying to find a cheap car to buy, and was quickly getting fed up with all the BS I had to sift through. Finally, I saw one ad in the “For Sale by Owner” section that was pretty much this entitled woman demanding a Ford Explorer for her “3 beautiful girls” and the car had to be pretty much perfect. For $1500. The icing on the cake was that she included a picture of herself. The whole thing just irked me, so I decided I was gonna respond to her ad and see if I could get under her skin. I started out trying to sell her a piece of crap Bronco, then a car that was completely totaled, then the Ford Explorer from Jurassic Park, and she was more and more furious every time I emailed her. I thought it was hilarious, so I passed these emails around to my friends. Then I started responding to other ridiculous ads, messing with the people in similar ways. It eventually evolved into me coming up with absurd scenarios for anyone gullible enough to believe me.
I kept sharing these with friends, and I posted them on a few message boards. Some people told me that I should put these on a website, so it would be easier to share with my friends. I made a quick website and came up with that awful name (I wanted returntosender.com but that was taken). Two days later, I came home from the bar to see that the site had over 65,000 unique hits in one day. It was showing up on the front page of Reddit, Digg, etc. I even saw something on CNN and Comedy Central’s blog. It just took off from there.
Are there any posts that you’re particularly proud of? Ones that you knew were comedy gold even before you posted them?
I’ve always enjoyed “Horse Farm”, where I try to hire a girl to kill all my horses and chop them up with a chainsaw. Also, any of the ones with “Mike Partlow,” the former military nut that tries to apply his combat experience to everyday situations that don’t warrant it. Finally, “Disguised Weapons” will always have a special place in my heart. That one drew more attention to my site than anything else. It seems like it is a part of internet history now… I always see it randomly pop up on my Facebook feed.
In your opinion, what separates a great prank from a mediocre one?
I think the great ones are ones that get a good reaction out of the “victim,” but they also can’t be predictable. I try to make each email different from the ones before it so it doesn’t get stale.
As of today, your most recent post was on June 10, 2013. Have you retired DontEvenReply.com?
Shit, it was that long ago? I haven’t retired it. I’ve just been extremely busy, and it is hard for me to come up with new emails that stay funny and unique.
Do you feel like Americans are getting dumber over time? If so, why do you think this is?
Absolutely. Maybe not dumber, but more misinformed. Without getting too political, I’d say things like Fox News have a lot to do with it. Or maybe Idiocracy was right and stupid people are breeding more…
What’s the best or most interesting item you’ve purchased on Craigslist?
Best was my old Jeep Cherokee Sport. Previous owner died and the daughter just wanted to get rid of it, so I got it for $800. Most interesting was one of those old looking globes that opens up and turns into a bar, like in those old spy movies.
Which Philadelphia Eagles season have you most enjoyed watching?
I’d say the 2010 season. That game against the Giants where Desean returned the punt for a TD to win the game as the clock ran out was the best NFL game I’ve ever seen. Watching Coughlin react by almost having an aneurysm made it that much better.
You’ve been chosen to assemble a four-piece musical supergroup consisting of a singer, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. You can select anyone from music history to join the group. Who do you choose?
Tiny Tim on vocals, Ludwig van Beethoven on guitar, the drummer from Def Leppard on the bass, and Yoko Ono on the bongos. I’d never be asked to assemble anything again.
If I had to make a supergroup that I personally would enjoy, I’d say Adam Turla on vocals, Tom Morello on guitar, Mike Gordon on bass, and John Bonham (I know, cliche) on drums. Actually, that would probably sound weird too. I dunno. I’m bad at this.
What’s your alcoholic drink of choice?
Beer: Yuengling. Liquor: Jameson
What’s the funniest movie ever made?
That’s a tough choice for me. I like dark comedies, so I’d say In Bruges. Although I never get tired of watching Tropic Thunder.
What are you working on next?
A bunch of people from the film industry have asked if I have considered screenwriting… so maybe that. I’m just reading a lot of scripts now to get a feel for it and then I’ll take a stab at writing something funny.