Skaggs Strikes Again

Status: TV show gets hoaxed (but claims it hoaxed first)
Hoax master Joey Skaggs has issued a press release describing the latest deception he's been involved in. I can't find the release posted online, so I uploaded the pdf file he emailed to me. I've also excerpted the main part of the release below:

Skaggs was contacted by producer Ben Sinden of ITV Factual, about a 90-minute special called "Danny Wallace's Hoax Files," to air in prime time Monday, December 19, 2005, on SkyOne throughout the UK. Sinden said Danny Wallace wanted to speak with the all-time great hoaxer Skaggs to see if he could teach him anything. In Skaggs' experience, producers of shows like this tend to overuse flattery, thinking that people will jump at the chance to be on TV. But Skaggs prefers not to become involved with this type of show. He'd rather expose them for what they are - self-aggrandizing and exploitive infotainment.
So, on October 30, 2005, rather than do the interview himself, Joey sent his friend Norman Savage in his place. Although Wallace had claimed to be a big fan of Skaggs' work, he apparently did not know the difference.
Savage, a novelist, has sat in for Skaggs before. In 1988 he appeared as Skaggs on "Entertainment Tonight" for a piece called "The Inside Story on Great Hoaxers," and in 1991 sat in for him on "To Tell the Truth" where he stumped the panel without the show's knowledge that he himself was a hoax.
Wallace's apparent plan was to attempt to hoax the hoaxer. He switched places with producer Sinden, who donned Wallace's signature glasses and messed up his hair. Savage, who had never met Wallace, was none the wiser, but apparently to his credit did a fine job impersonating Skaggs. Sinden proceeded to do the interview with Savage and each was happy in their duplicity, neither realizing the doublecross.
It wasn't until later, after the shoot, that the Skaggs switch was revealed to Wallace, and further confirmed while reviewing the collection of news clips of prior real Skaggs appearances licensed from other networks for use in the show. Says Skaggs, "It stands to reason that had he figured it out during the interview, he would have busted Savage, on camera, and used it in the show."
Realizing he'd been had, there was now a need for damage control. The trip to New York with the crew had cost the production company money. So now, how to salvage Danny Wallace's anticipated "leg up" on Skaggs? On December 8, Wallace phoned Skaggs to tell him he knew that Savage had played him and that, in fact, he (Skaggs) had been hoaxed by him (Wallace). Wallace was now going to make Skaggs confess! Curious to know what he had planned, Skaggs asked, "Are you pulling the interview?" "No!" said Danny Wallace, gloating, "We're going to show that it wasn't me doing the interview with you! We're showing a split screen with the fake you on one side and you on the other and we'll cut to me posing as crew during the interview." Skaggs replied, "Uh... Danny, but you didn't succeed in hoaxing me because, uh, it's not me!"
So, if the piece stays in the show, they'll be showing a fake interviewer interviewing a fake interviewee, while gloating about it. Unfortunately, Skaggs has seen this type of lame spin before. Embarrassed journalists who have fallen for his hoaxes, have frequently done follow-up stories to convince the audience that they knew the truth and were just going along for the ride.

The thing is, I recall being contacted by a researcher from this show, who wanted my advice on who the top hoaxers in the world were. So I mentioned Joey Skaggs. (Unless I'm confused about whom I discussed Skaggs with. Possible, because it was a while ago, but I'm pretty sure it was them.) In other words, I may have played a small role in giving him this hoaxing opportunity. Though the show doubtless would have contacted him anyway without my suggestion. (And I did warn them that Skaggs likes to turn the tables on the media.)


Posted on Sat Dec 17, 2005


Man, this hoaxing business is getting too confusing. Now we have people arguing over who hoaxed who first.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Sat Dec 17, 2005  at  11:06 AM
Lol, that's brilliant! Wasn't Joey Skaggs the creator of the "Fat Squad" commandoes (who, once paid, forced you to go on a diet whether you liked it or not)? Or am I thinking of someone else?
Posted by Owen  on  Sat Dec 17, 2005  at  01:49 PM
Maybe we should hoax Skaggs by telling him to go to some news station that doesn't exist.

Then again, he might be reading this...
Posted by Yaanu  on  Sat Dec 17, 2005  at  03:57 PM
I was on TV once. I later told them it wasn't me, but rather Joey Skaggs. They believed me and refused to pay me.
Posted by eriC draveS  on  Sat Dec 17, 2005  at  08:41 PM
Yes, Owen, Joey Skaggs was the guy behind the "Fat Squad." His character was named "Joe Bones." And still they didn't see through the gag!

Hey, Alex, who else did you name as one of the World's Greatest Hoaxers?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Dec 18, 2005  at  03:10 AM
Yup! you are absolutely right. I too was wondering about that.
Posted by francis  on  Mon Dec 19, 2005  at  03:32 AM
danny wallace is a bit of a d list celeb out in england who does this sort of stuff.... he wrote a book called "the yes man" about his adventures of what happend to him after spending a month only allowed to say yes to everything, and he started some bizzare sort of cult. his best friend is a guy called dave gorman, who has done a two shows, one where he had to find 54 other people named dave gorman, and one where he lived by his horiscope for a month to see if it made him happier

they can be darn entertainin
Posted by joeodd  on  Mon Dec 19, 2005  at  01:41 PM
Hi, I am just watching the show and have seen the bit you are describing, if the above is true then they must have found sombody who looks like Skaggs and reshot the whole thing as Danny Wallace is the sound man during the interview and all three men are seen in some of the shots. Personally I think Skaggs is just annoyed that he got duped so is pretending he knew all along!
Posted by Wembley  on  Mon Dec 19, 2005  at  03:08 PM
Hello there!

D-list Danny Wallace here. (I'm going to have cards made up which say that).

I have the hugest admiration for Mr Skaggs, but I'm afraid he did fall for my (admittedly incredibly minor) hoax.

I'm rubbish at hoaxes, as I said in the show, but I love the people who manage to pull them off - Joey included. I'm so sorry, therefore (yet the tiniest bit happy) to say that yes, I was able to do this one.

Joey didn't like it when I revealed it to him, but eventually (as the phone call proved) he admitted all. He even said congrats.

I was full of admiration, especially as he'd always said he hated the journos, who, once they'd been hoaxed, tried to say they hadn't been. It was a bit disappointing to see that, in the end, he wasn't practising what he preached and was doing what the journos had always done. But this cannot and must not take away from his excellent body of sterling work.

I'm retiring from hoaxing after one go (mainly because I'm rubbish) but all hail Joey. And all hail hoaxers!


PS. My website forum has been full of people angry that I'm suggesting that Bigfoot is not entirely real. Was I wrong? Any advice?
Posted by Danny Wallace  on  Mon Dec 19, 2005  at  05:48 PM
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