Improv Everywhere at GEL conference

[Video Link] Charlie Todd says: "For our latest mission, a musical breaks out at the GEL Conference in New York. A speaker is suddenly interrupted by a man who refuses to turn off his cell phone."


  1. I love Improve Everywhere (makes me want to get up and sing on the subway, my singing ability aside). And I love the GEL conference. A perfect venue for IE’s mission to bring music to the masses (okay, it’s not their mission but hey).

  2. Is it just me who finds this embarrassing, creepy and a bit nauseating?

    Maybe I don’t like musicals enough, or maybe I just prefer satire and irony to self-congratulation.

    But then I’m just a miserable Brit.

    1. i do like musicals. i would have gotten out at the first note. it may be different in a public space, where you don’t have a captive audience, but in this kind of setting? how insultingly didactic. walked out, and never come back!

    2. RoloD, you are not alone.

      Masturbating gives me pleasure but so far I have managed to resist doing it in public – it is shame these guys feel the need to “share” their self-congratulating behaviour presumably in the belief that they are making the world “a better place” or some other guff.

  3. RoloD: I am with you.

    The Improv guys were funny the first couple of times. They now have scripted pre-approved “improve” events. This is not improv and not everywhere, only where the management approves.

    1. I suggest reading the FAQ on IE’s site (

      How can you call it “improv”? Your missions are clearly pre-planned!

      We are not claiming that what we are doing is improv. The majority of Improv Everywhere Agents met each other through the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, the nation’s most awesome improv theatre and school. While staging organized stunts in public places is obviously completely different form improv comedy in a theatre, the two activities do share similar techniques. We stay in character at all costs and interact with members of the public with no script beyond the mission’s idea. We have no clue how people are going to react to us, and that is where the improvisation comes in. Sometimes people misread our URL as “Improve Everywhere.” We think that’s probably a better name for what we try to do.

  4. not all they do is genius (I found the fruit song kinda lame) .. but this one … right audience, right references … overall .. this could have been real :D (for a moment I thought I saw Xeni marching in)

  5. Nice job. Though I think that there should really be a disclaimer that they were paid by the Gel conference to do this (assumed, given what it says at the bottom of this page:

    Not that I think there is anything wrong with that, mind you. I just think sometimes “free culture loving” BoingBoing posts things as if they were done in the spirit of fun and art alone, when sometimes it’s not always the case.

    Companies spend a lot of money on creating stuff like this just so we will share it as if it were “homemade with spit and vinegar” when in reality it’s not always the case.

    Again, I find NOTHING wrong with a company doing that, for Improv Everywhere for offering that paid service, nor do I think BoingBoing was wrong for posting it. But, let’s face it, we just watched a paid advertisement for the GEL conference.

    Never heard of it before. Now I have. Mission accomplished.

  6. As someone who was in that audience, I have to say they totally got me. I was actually in the process of going to “Twrlr” when he made the announcement to turn off devices. When the singing started, I thought it was just part of the announcement… like added entertainment.

    It was very entertaining, and I am a bit embarrassed for not having caught on earlier – as I am also a big fan of their work.

    Kudos, Improv Everywhere.

  7. I was certainly hoping that this was a joke when I saw the name Twirlr — but I dreaded I might be wrong. It’s way too possible.

    1. Oops missed that (though I did say I was making an assumption).

      But in a way it is a commercial.

      It very clearly says at the bottom of their spontaneous musicals page, right under the embedded GEL conf. video, in fact (

      “If you are interested in hiring us to produce a spontaneous musical for your conference, meeting, or event, let us know via our contact form.”

      In part this seems to me to be a good promo piece for getting conferences to hire their services. AGAIN, I see nothing wrong with this. I just think it fair to point out.

      They even say on their own site’s FAQ page:

      “We do not stage official Improv Everywhere missions that advertise a brand. However, we have in the past worked with companies as creative consultants helping to develop campaigns and as video producers creating content for a brand. We have also staged pranks at internal meetings and conventions for corporate clients. We do this work independent of Improv Everywhere, and will not use this site or its resources to promote it.”

      Well, seems to me they do, just in more subtle ways.

  8. “project” “mission” “improv” “agents”

    sounds like the marketing department is working overtime

    I’m ok with people trying to make a buck. It just kind of sucks when it has to come at the expense of honest artistic output. This is probably killing the hearts of flash mob directors all over the country.

  9. I think I smiled when I watched this, but I can’t be sure until I learn the exact dollar amounts that were involved. $12.50 per person it’s a work of art, but $12.51 it’s just another sellout by the huge, heartless multinational corporation known as Improv Everywhere.

  10. Gah. I show up prominently enough in this video that people actually mailed me and said “IS THAT YOU???”. Yes, it was me, and yes, I’m using my phone. To update my Facebook status. To say: “Having just been on the receiving end of a flash mob, I can officially say they have jumped the shark.”

  11. As with all Improv Everywhere sketches, I love it. But call me a jackass if you must, but I think it would have been way funnier if the speaker weren’t in on it.

  12. What the hell, did everyone drink their grumpy juice this morning?! You people are why we can’t have nice/fun things.

  13. Some people are confusing “self-congratulatory” with “trying to entertain people”.

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