Bright Side

13 Great People That Trolled Others Way Before the Internet Even Existed

The first time the word “trolling” might have been used in terms of online communication as early as the 1980s. Initially, people thought it could happen only online, but nowadays, it often happens in real life. In fact, it has always been present in real life. If you read through the biographies of Pushkin, Mark Twain, and Einstein, you will see that they trolled people around them way before the Internet was invented.

We at Bright Side love reading through the witty comments left by modern Internet users and we often publish the funniest ones in our articles. But today, we want to remember how cool the jokes of the great people of the past were. And at the end of the article, there is a bonus section, revealing a couple of times when genius people got trolled.

  • Once, the students of the famous French anatomist Georges Cuvier decided to troll their teacher. His students dressed up in a devil’s costume and woke up Cuvier in the middle of the night, chanting: “Cuvier, Cuvier, I have come to eat you.” But Cuvier woke up and said, “All creatures with horns and hooves are herbivores. You can’t eat me,” and went back to sleep.
  • Salvador Dali had an amazing swimming pool. The guests that wanted to swim in it saw that the bottom was swarming with sea urchins. The bravest ones still decided to swim and were relieved to know that the urchins were actually separated from the rest of the pool by the glass and the water was totally safe to swim in.

The garden of the Casa-Museu (House-Museum) of Salvador Dali in Port Lligat

  • Once, Albert Einstein met a man he knew and invited him to dinner:
    — “Come tonight. Professor Stimson is coming today.”
    — “I am Stimson.”
    — “Doesn’t matter, come anyway.”
  • After a regular evening of poetry, a woman came up to Yesenin and told him her name, “Brockhaus.” Yesenin remembered, “The dictionary, right.” There is a dictionary written by Brockhaus. The woman nodded and said, “Yes, he is my uncle.” Then, Yesenin invited her to his place. Later, his friend asked the writer why he invited this woman even though she didn’t seem that smart, and Yesenin said, “You know...she’s the niece of a dictionary!”
  • This story is attributed to Mr. Conan Doyle: A friend of his had often been told that there was a skeleton in the cupboard of every household, no matter how respectable that household may be; and he was determined to prove this. He chose a venerable archdeacon of the church as the subject of the experiment, against whom nobody had ever breathed a word. He went to the nearest post office and dispatched a telegram to the gentleman: “All is discovered! Fly at once!” The archdeacon disappeared and has never been heard of since.
  • There are a lot of stories about how funny Bernard Shaw was. Once, a not-so-talented actor asked the writer to write a reference about him. Shaw wrote that the actor played Hamlet, Romeo, and Ferdinand, along with the piano, the flute, and pool. He said that he was really good at pool.
  • Once, Bernard Shaw was at a restaurant where there was a very loud orchestra. Shaw called a waiter over and asked, “Could you tell me if the orchestra would play something that a customer has requested?” The waiter replied, “But certainly Monsieur. What would you like the orchestra to play?” Shaw then answered, “Well, could they play poker until I have finished my dinner?”
  • Once, the German chemist, Bunsen, met a lady that confused him with another Bunsen that had already died. “Pray sir,” asked the lady, “have you not yet finished your great work on God and history?” “Alas no, madam,” replied Bunsen, “my untimely death prevented me from completing my task.”

  • Once, the famous German physicist, Wilhelm Röntgen, got a letter with a request to send a few X-rays to be sent with an explanation on how to use them. The person was complaining about poor health and lack of time, so Röntgen said that such a parcel would be complicated and that it would be easier if the patient sent him his chest instead.

  • There’s a legend about how Haydn composed the “Surprise Symphony.” Once, the musician was conducting an orchestra in London. He knew that many English people often attended concerts not to listen to music but just because of tradition. And some viewers even fell asleep in their comfortable chairs. So the composer decided to troll the listeners and made a new symphony. At the most critical moment when some people had already started falling asleep, there was a loud kettledrum stroke. His biographer George August Griesinger asked him whether he wrote this “surprise” to awaken the audience. Haydn replied, “No, but I was interested in surprising the public with something new.”

  • When Rossini found out that in Russia, there would be a bronze statue of him installed on the square, he asked how much the monument would cost. The answer was “20,000 lira.” Then, Rossini said that for this money, he would stand on the pedestal instead of the statue.

  • Arturo Toscanini and Pietro Mascagni were invited to take part in a big music festival in memory of Verdi. Mascagni’s one condition was that he wanted to be paid more than Toscanini, by at least 1 lira. So, he got 1 lira. Toscanini worked for free.

Bonus: famous people that have gotten trolled

  • John Lennon often received letters from fans and he even replied to some of them. Once, he got a letter from a young man from India. He asked Lennon for money to see the world. The musician said that if he gave money to everyone that asked for it, he would already be broke. Besides, he said, “All you need is initiative.” 30 years later, the Indian man sold the letter for about $10,000.
  • At the beginning of his writing career, Mark Twain tried himself as a writer of travel stories. He wrote a book about traveling on the ship, Quaker City. Everything was nice about the trip except for the coffee. The coffee was terrible. He said that it was too transparent. When Twain’s patience ended, he went to the captain. The captain showed him his cup and the coffee looked great. The writer showed him his cup and the captain said, “Well, for coffee, it’s terrible, I agree. But it’s great tea.”

Do you know any other interesting stories from the lives of great people? Share them in the comment section below!