Improv Everywhere’s Motto “We Cause Scenes”
“We cause scenes”, is the motto of Charlie Todd’s Improv Everywhere, and for almost ten years now this merry band of urban pranksters have been doing exactly that, pulling off some of the cleverest, most smile-provoking, most widely-publicized stunts this city has ever known. The No Pants! Subway Rides, the MP3 Experiments, Frozen Grand Central, The Best Funeral Ever (an April Fool’s joke that was reported as factual by a local TV news show)… these and more than 80 other fiendishly funny public routines are the work of Agent Todd and the Improv Everywhere Crew. Best of all, anyone can become an Improv Everywhere agent–we’ve gone on a few missions ourselves–and join in the fun. Just sign up for agent-only alerts about future pranks here.
Improv Everywhere Classics
After ten years an Improv Everywhere highlight reel would last for hours–and much of it is posted on their website, or available on DVD–but a few of our favorite “scenes of chaos and joy in public places” would have to include:
* The Surprise Wedding Reception, for which Agent Todd and some 50 senior agents, decked out in tuxedos and bridesmaid dresses, randomly chose a newlywed couple leaving the City Clerk’s office, and gave them a full-blown wedding reception right there across the street in Foley Square. Under a classic wedding-reception white tent, the more-then-a-little-surprised young bride and groom were greeted by the cheers of 50 formally-attired strangers/pranksters, followed by champagne toasts, dancing, cake, bouquet tossing, wedding presents, the works. The complete report is here, and is guaranteed to put a lump in your throat.
* Rob!, a sort of staged “Where’s Waldo” prank from the genius of Improv Everywhere, pulled off to perfection during a game at Yankee Stadium in 2006. The idea here is simple: Agent Lathan, or “Rob”, leaves his seat in the 6th inning to get some refreshments. Upon his return, he pretends to not be able to find his friends, who start calling to him. Of course, Rob appears to not hear his buddies’ increasingly loud cries, and other fans spontaneously join in. Rob then disappears back into the tunnel, emerging in another section, which starts up a new call, with even more fans joining in. And again somewhere else. And again. Soon variations on “Rob!”–shouts, chants, expletive-laden screams–are heard throughout much of the enormous ballpark, as our Waldo pops in and out the tunnels, in ever-more unlikely sections, much to the delight of fans who can’t believe this guy could be such a moron. This one from Improv Everywhere makes us laugh every time we think about it. There are lots of pictures, descriptions and accounts of Rob!, here.
* Best Buy, and not just because we were Improv Everywhere agents on this one. For this prank, approximately 80 of us put on khakis and a royal blue polo shirt–your basic Best Buy uniform–and, a few agents at a time, entered the Best Buy megastore on 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. Agent Todd told us not to explicitly act like employees–don’t ask customers if they need help, for example–but just stand around in different sections. As the store slowly filled with agents, the real Best Buy workers started cracking up, but management was less amused. There are lots of pictures and videos here… and the prank lives on the official Best Buy site, which picked up one of the Improv Everywhere images on their “Careers” page!
Improv Everywhere details
For a complete record of Improve Everywhere’s past pranks, as well as the opportunity to sign up as an Agent to participate in future “scenes of joy and chaos” go to the excellent Improv Everywhere site, here.
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