The Trickster’s Journey

We offer top­i­cal class­es indi­vid­u­al­ly, in com­bi­na­tions of your choos­ing, or togeth­er in one pack­age we call the Trickster’s Journey—at the end of which a per­son emerges as a Cer­ti­fied Trick­ster and gets access to a net­work of like-mind­ed mis­chief makers. 

The Jour­ney is the length of a stan­dard col­lege semes­ter. The expe­ri­ence is made up of Three Whoops and a Holler: an induc­tion (the first whoop); an 11-step online course (the sec­ond whoop, a com­bined 22 hours in the vir­tu­al class­room); par­tic­i­pa­tion in up to three real-world actions (the third whoop); and lead­er­ship of one action (the holler).

This process will teach every stu­dent all the tricks that acad­e­my founders The Yes Men have stud­ied, imple­ment­ed, and cat­a­loged over the last thir­ty years, prepar­ing each grad­u­ate to plan and imple­ment mis­chie­vous and effec­tive stunts for activist campaigns.

“Three Whoops and a Holler” is named in hon­or of the fall­en trick­ster Cow­boy Ed Keey­locko, who is some­where out there mak­ing mis­chief in the spir­it world. 

The 11 Steps

Our 11 Step Pro­gram is offered as a sequence of week­ly 2‑hour remote ses­sions for those who want to enroll in the full Trick­ster’s Jour­ney. But we also offer each of the steps as 3‑hour, stand­alone ses­sions that can be expe­ri­enced either in per­son or remote­ly. These ses­sions can also be used to help an orga­ni­za­tion brain­storm actions that help breathe new life into ongo­ing cam­paigns. (Costs are on a slid­ing scale, con­tact to inquire!)

Step 1.

If you want to cre­ate activist actions now, noth­ing helps more than know­ing what came before. This ses­sion is a crash course on the his­to­ry of the trickster’s trade—from thou­sands of years old poet­ic the­atri­cal inter­ven­tions that still are remem­bered today, to the the­atri­cal mul­ti-plat­form media spec­ta­cles of this moment. We will dive into the rich his­to­ry of sym­bol­ic actions that have come to frame the mem­o­ries of move­ments. Exam­ples are cho­sen to illus­trate tac­tics, and to demys­ti­fy how they real­ly worked to advance the move­ments they were designed for. For groups enrolling in Step 1, we tai­lor the class to the needs of the students.

Step 2.
Set­ting Goals

Do you know where your cam­paign is head­ed? Do you know how to get there? This ses­sion will con­sist of a very effec­tive sto­ry-based approach to set­ting goals, mile­stones, and points of inter­ven­tion for your cam­paigns. Warn­ing: there will be time trav­el! Using our “Fake New York Times” project as a point of depar­ture, we will project our­selves into the future to cre­ate a prag­mat­ic utopia—so that we can then reverse-engi­neer how we got there and thus map out some effec­tive actions and tac­tics that helped. Some might call this devel­op­ing a “the­o­ry of change” but while our meth­ods are spec­u­la­tive, they are way too fun to call the­o­ry! This is our most pop­u­lar workshop.

Step 3.
Brain­storm­ing & Planning

How do you come up with all these mis­chie­vous ideas? This ses­sion will lead you through the meth­ods that we have found effec­tive for com­ing up with ideas for actions—and then pok­ing holes in the ideas until you know which ones to try. This ses­sion is our sec­ond most pop­u­lar work­shop, because you not only receive guid­ed help in fig­ur­ing out how to come up with ideas but you also get the brain trust of the Trick­ster Acad­e­my staff on your campaign.

Step 3.5

Need mon­ey? One can fig­ure out free or cheap projects and they are often bet­ter than expen­sive ones, but if you need to or want to raise mon­ey for your actions this is some­thing we know how to do! In this ses­sion we can give an overview of fundrais­ing meth­ods and prac­tices, includ­ing crowd­sourc­ing, sell­ing stuff, grant writ­ing, and appeal­ing to pri­vate donors. Note that this ses­sion is pri­mar­i­ly geared towards fundrais­ing from North Amer­i­can sources. 

Step 4.
Project Man­age­ment

You have an idea, now what? Media inter­ven­tions, even sim­ple ones, can have a lot of mov­ing parts. This ses­sion teach­es how to cre­ate a com­pre­hen­sive recipe—lining up all the ingre­di­ents and the direc­tions for cook­ing them up. This is a prac­ti­cal ses­sion that is real­ly about pro­duc­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing a com­plex media spec­ta­cle, from incep­tion to the sto­ry­telling at the end.

Step 5.
Per­for­mance &
Social Engi­neer­ing

How is it that you infil­trate the halls of pow­er so you can spring your tricky sur­prise? In this ses­sion we cov­er lots of tricks of the trade for becom­ing some­one else—on the inter­net and in per­son. We’ll tell you the psy­cho­log­i­cal tips and tricks we’ve stud­ied over the years, with an eye towards hav­ing max­i­mum impact for your campaigns.

Step 6.
Writ­ing for Cre­ative Actions

This ses­sion is all about how to write your story—and write the sto­ries with­in your sto­ry! There are many dif­fer­ent kinds of writ­ing need­ed for cre­ative activist prac­tices, whether it is the terse prose of web copy, the poet­ics of tweet­ing, or the odd comedic gem embed­ded in a dry cor­po­rate press release. We teach a trick­sters’ approach to the writ­ten word, and intro­duce the style sheets you need to know to pull off an action from begin­ning to end.

Step 7.
Design & Web Work
Online Tools for Action

If a tree falls in the for­est and it’s not on the inter­net, did it hap­pen at all? What­ev­er you are doing you need to show and tell over dig­i­tal net­works in their var­i­ous forms. This ses­sion will be a broad overview of the online tools and iden­ti­ties you may need for get­ting actions togeth­er. We can also teach spe­cif­ic tech­ni­cal skills tai­lored to your needs—from the per­spec­tive of tricksters.

Step 8.
Pho­tog­ra­phy, Video
& Audio for Action

One thing you can nev­er entire­ly con­trol is how an action plays out. But what you can con­trol is how you tell the sto­ry. And key to telling that sto­ry is hav­ing all the right footage. In this sec­tion, we’ll dive into the basics of shoot­ing good stills, video, and audio. How do you com­mu­ni­cate your mes­sages in a sin­gle still image? How do you make an effec­tive and pro­fes­sion­al video with just a few cell phones? This is a crash course on how you can show your actions to the pub­lic with a quick turn­around required for the news cycle.

Step 9.
Stag­ing! Props, Cos­tumes, Wigs & Facial Hair, etc.

There are many ways that cre­ative activists have used cos­tumes, props, and objects of all sorts. Some are found or eas­i­ly acquired at thrift stores. Oth­ers are just things you find that are so cool or so strange or in such great quan­ti­ties that you sim­ply have to think up an action to use them—like Sal’s Orange Orang­utan suit (with gold pants and hat) that we once used as part of the Bush Cam­paign (long sto­ry… take the course and we’ll tell you). Or maybe you want to have an out­sized impact on a small bud­get by using inflat­a­bles. In this ses­sion, we’ll cov­er options for obscur­ing iden­ti­ty, dress­ing up, fab­ri­cat­ing props, and stag­ing actions.

Step 10.
Nav­i­gat­ing Pit­falls
& Legal Fun

“Is it dan­ger­ous?” They ask. Peo­ple are usu­al­ly sur­prised to find out how safe the trickster’s prac­tice is, and how rare it is to be arrest­ed when prop­er­ly using the tac­tics the Yes Men have used. That does not mean that there is no risk, and that also does not mean that you won’t have to con­tend with the fear and para­noia of think­ing that there is! This ses­sion is about the ins and outs, dos and don’ts of this kind of activism, both on an emo­tion­al lev­el and on a legal one. Warn­ing: we are not your lawyer! But we can teach you why you like­ly don’t need to con­sult one.

Step 11.
Dis­sem­i­na­tion / Media /
Social Media

Launch Day! How can you ensure that you are ready to han­dle get­ting the word out about your action, stay­ing on mes­sage in a media feed­ing fren­zy, and stay­ing on top of the sto­ry as it unfolds?