Chance the Rapper feels a little bad about those Punk'd pranks
The Big Day artist on what it's like to host the newest iteration of the show.
Megan Thee Stallion is fuming. "Where is my motherf—ing dog?!" she shouts as her friend E.J. tells her he lost the rapper's prized pooch, 4oe, on a walk through the park. Unfortunately, things are about to get worse. They set off to find her pet but soon encounter a terrifying obstacle: a giant gorilla escaping from its cage, and running toward Meg's car. As she starts to scream, we cut to the maniacal laughter of Chance the Rapper, who is sitting in a hidden production trailer just out of view.
"You got Punk'd, yo," says the Big Day MC when he finally reveals himself.
"No one ever figured out that it was Punk'd because when we were shooting it, it wasn't announced yet," Chance tells EW. "The craziest part was me having to come out and be like, 'Ah, I got you.' And they're like, 'Why are you here, Chance?'… Even if they thought that something was up, it wasn't that they thought they were on a prank show, they were just like, 'Whoever I'm dealing with right now is the worst at their job or an assh—.'"
Yes, MTV's seminal prank show has returned, this time in bite-size bits for the new streaming network Quibi. Originally hosted by Ashton Kutcher from 2003 to 2007 — and previously revived in 2012 and 2015 — the program famously made a mockery of the world's biggest stars through elaborately staged stunts: Justin Timberlake was forced to tears as his house was apparently being foreclosed on, Beyoncé thought she knocked over a multistory Christmas tree at a charity event, and Elijah Wood was tricked into thinking he had set a giant dumpster on fire.
Chance was a big fan of Punk'd's first iteration — a pre-Instagram and Twitter world where seeing celebrities as regular people was a rarity. His favorite sketch from the Ashton era? This reel-stealing bit from future mentor and collaborator Kanye West. "It was just cool for me because that was the most human I had ever seen anybody I looked up to," says Chance, who's been spending his quarantine hanging with his kids, playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and watching "mindf—" movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Vanilla Sky. (He's also been recording some music, but doesn't currently have plans to do a virtual concert: "I feel like just cause I got two kids, I'm not trying to let anybody in my crib right now. But if sh— stays like this, then yeah, I'll definitely do a little concert.)
Having the curtain pulled back on of his favorite shows growing up has been an illuminating experience. Each prank takes an enormous amount of coordination, and typically includes at least a two-day build where the crew places hidden cameras and rehearses the prank in full. He describes the process as "run and gun" — if a star is running late on a particular day or skips a flight, then Chance and his team end up missing their pranking window. "Sometimes I would have something specific for Meg or for DaBaby or somebody that I knew, and then they couldn't make it that day so I had to do it on somebody that I didn't know personally," he says. "Those were the hardest ones because I just feel way worse doing that sh— to somebody that's not my friend." For the friends he did end up punking, only one of them got really mad. "It's such a sensitive thing," he adds. "Because it's like — man, I hate using the word lying, but it's like you are lying to people."
The biggest revelation for Chance, though, has been how legitimate Punk'd feels even when you're calling the shots. "It's so f—ing real," he says. "Like it's a prank, obviously, but it's not just getting a celebrity. We're getting their team, we're tricking their security, it's borderline dangerous sometimes and you really just start to feel crazy."