How to Pull Off an Evil Laugh Contest and Get Away with It | Programs That Pop

Youth Services Librarian Elaine Pelton from the Washington, DC Public Library shares how to have a successful Evil Laugh Contest virtual library program in 16 easy steps.

woman laughing, holding pumpkins and trophyYouth Services Librarian Elaine Pelton from the Washington, DC Public Library shares how to have a successful Evil Laugh Contest virtual library program in 16 easy steps.

  1. Be crazy enough to pitch a Dinosaur Roaring Contest to your manager, and have it go viral. Then, when you pitch your Evil Laugh Contest it won’t sound as insane.
  2. Amass a team of five equally insidious librarians throughout the city to become your promotional partners in crime and future arbiters of evil laughs.
  3. Create a web form asking entrants to upload their 10 second videos and agree to give the library permission to share their dastardly cackles.
  4. Set a launch date and deadline and plaster your website, social media accounts, and neighborhood listservs with your evil challenge. Strew flyers in strange and mysterious places.
  5. Beg, bully, or bribe the most dramatic librarians you know to film their own evil laugh videos. String ’em together to an eerie soundtrack and post to YouTube. Wait until the day when Facebook mysteriously crashes for eight hours. Ten minutes after Facebook comes back up, post that sucker to Library Think Tank. This will drive the library community into a national frenzy.
  6. Should administrators dare to question how your evil laugh challenge ties into library collections, fling together a short article on evil laughs in film or, better yet, arm twist a neighboring theater company into writing a piece on Shakespearean quotes to make you shudder.
  7. If a reporter from say, PBS NewsHour contacts you because they are writing a story on evil laughs, be sure to hook them up with your most evil-laughingest librarian for a short interview. He might even just include your video in his article.
  8. Your deadline is up! The stroke of midnight has passed. Time to start combing through the creepy cackles one by one. (We got 115.) You will laugh. You will cry. You will scream in horror and amazement. Hard cuts will have to be made. Only some entries will survive the night. Your trusted circle of librarian arbiters will have to individually assign scores to each and every one. How does one judge, you ask? Look. We can’t really define what makes an exceptional evil laugh video, but we know one when we see one.
  9. Once the scores are tallied and averaged, it’s time for the arbiters to battle it out face to face to fight for those favorite fringe entries. Only so many trophies can be awarded. Only so many characters can be cast. You will have to choose and choose wisely. Be prepared for a judges’ blood bath.
  10. Here’s where it gets wicked fun/technically time-consuming. You have made your final selections, you have selected your cast, you have decided on your victors. Time to brew all your sinister selections together into one heaping, steaming, concoction of depravity (aka a Canva video).
  11. young girl wearing mask, holding trophyI recommend choosing a suspenseful, heart-pounding background track, starting with the youngest, tastiest morsels for appetizers, and finishing out with your most aged fine wines. In other words, start with your babbling babes and end with your most ghoulish grownups.
  12. It is important to pay homage to the souls who helped to create your concoction. If they are not given their due, you run the risk of future hauntings.
  13. Once your concoction has been published to YouTube, it’s time to start contacting your evildoers. I recommend dividing the work amongst your trusted arbiters. Whilst only so many souls can emerge victorious (we chose 40), all souls who braved your contest should be contacted and offered gratitude, a certificate of appreciation, and whatever else you dare extend. Ghoulish wind-up toys might not break your bank. And heed this advice: DO include a link to your video showcase (I mean concoction) in every message. Families who scare together, share together. Your content will be all over every proud aunt’s Twitter feed before you know it.
  14. Here’s where riches and gold come in. If you are fortunate enough to have a wealthy patron sponsor (such as a super-flush Library Friends group) you can add trophies into the mix. Trophy Depot offers very affordable plastic trophies (about $8 each) and engraving with a quick turnaround time, and will NOT blink an eyelash when you submit an order for 25 personalized trophies requesting such text as “Best Pet Entry, Pancake, DC Public Library Evil Laugh Contest”. Yep. They’ll just laser cut that stuff and send it to you. No questions asked.
  15. young boy holding up trophy, certificateMake sure everyone who has been contacted knows where and when they can pick up their well-earned treasure/trophies/windup toys/whatever. They will appear without warning. And it is advisable to capture their likenesses/snap a photo with their bounty. It is important to most villains to leave a legacy of infamy.
  16. Post your concoction/video showcase on your website, on every neighborhood blog, on your cats’ TikTok. Spread the evil glee far and wide. (We got over 4,000 views.) And that, my friends, is how you pull off an Evil Laugh Contest right under everyone’s noses. Mwa ha ha ha ha!

Side note : Do NOT email everyone in your condo building on Halloween with a link to the video you just created because it’s literally the coolest thing you’ve ever done and you think they will enjoy it too, because they won’t. This list is for building-related issues only.

Elaine Pelton is a youth services librarian at the Southeast Neighborhood Library in DC.

*Thanks to Evil Laugh partners past and present, Katie Thomas, Aryssa Damron, Benjamin Shields, Joy Jones, Patricia Ballentine, Shelley Borysiewicz, Shoshana Ginsburg, Chris Stevenson, Megan Mcnitt, Gayle Wagner, Tawanda Johnson, Julie Seigel, The Friends of the Southeast Library, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

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