"improv everywhere"

Sweet 16 on the Subway

This cute video is circulating which shows a group of people, led by a young woman, who want to throw a very brief birthday party for a friend on a subway car in New York City. The friend is unknowingly being guided into this situation by an accomplice. Banners and balloons, blow-ticklers, sashes, and whatnot, are all prepared in the space of a few minutes (two subway stops) before the birthday girl enters the car and suddenly it’s all surprises, hugs, kisses, music, dancing, and cupcakes.

Isn’t that heartwarming? Doesn’t it just make you feel great about New York.

It’s fake. Notice that none of the birthday partiers are older than, say, 25, and they’re all so incredibly attractive.

The so-called “friends” in the subway car are actors and actresses who work for a company called Improv Everywhere.

Improv Everywhere is a New York City-based comedy collective that stages unexpected performances in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere aims to surprise and delight random strangers through positive pranks, or “missions.”

The director of “theater company,” Charlie Todd, writes on their website:

For years the subway has been our favorite performance venue. We’ve had pizza parties, talk shows, wedding proposals, and even time traveling twins. For each of these projects we create a scene that gives random people the option to say yes and be part of something awesome. If you haven’t figured out by now, this was not a real a surprise birthday party. Jenny was an actor along with everyone else in our group.

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Improv Everywhere: Declare your love

Charlie from Improv Everywhere writes, "What happens when you leave a megaphone on the street with the simple instructions: 'Declare Your Love?' 2016 has been a rough year. It felt like time to dust off our old podium." Read the rest

Improv Eveywhere's "Surprise Press Conference" - a scrum for everyone

Charlie Todd from Improv Everywhere (previously) writes, "We set up a fake press conference set on the steps of the New York Public Library. When random tourists approached it to pose for photos, a mob of reporters ran up and surprised them with an impromptu press conference." Read the rest

Improv Everywhere: Dance Captain Wanted

Charlie from Improv Everywhere writes, "We set up 100 dancers in a park and put a platform in front of them. Watch what happens." Read the rest

Improv Everywhere: asking random New Yorkers to give a commencement speech

The fun-loving stunters of Improv Everywhere staged a fabulous stunt in New York City's Bryant Park: they set up a crowd of "grads" in caps and gowns with a stage and a podium, then sent the "dean" out into the park to beg randos to step in and serve as emergency commencement speakers, filling in for a last-minute cancellation. Read the rest

Four sets of identical twins pull an epic NYC subway car time-machine prank

Improv Everywhere (previously) keeps on bringing the hits, but seriously, this one takes the cake. Read the rest

Ballroom dancing in a busy NYC crosswalk

Charlie from Improv Everywhere sent us this video of their latest piece, "Ballroom Crosswalk," which features some genuinely great dancing in a NYC crosswalk, but even better is staged with a slow burn that pays off beautifully at the end! Read the rest

We Cause Scenes: documentary on Improv Everywhere

Today marks the release of We Cause Scenes, a feature-length documentary on the the legendary Improv Everywhere troupe, which was pieced together from over twelve years' worth of footage of daring, comic, wonderful public scenes. We've been writing about Improv Everywhere for years, and a tour through our archives reveals such delights as the annual No-Pants subway ride, the Star Wars subway car, the NYC sidewalk tourist-lane, Lost at the Knicks game, Grand Central Station mass-freeze and Shirtless at Abercrombie and Fitch.

We Cause Scenes is available as a DRM-free high-def download direct from the production company -- $13, or $15 with bonus features -- and comes with an impressive pedigree from the festival circuit, having been selected for SXSW, Hotdocs, and many others. Read the rest

Global No Pants Subway Ride 2012: gallery of photos larger than you might actually wish to view

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

A young boy looks up at a woman with no pants on while riding in the subway system during the annual No Pants Subway Ride in New York on January 8. The event is organized by Improv Everywhere, and involves participants who strip down to their underwear as they go about their normal routine. WTF and why?

The mission started as a small prank with seven guys and has grown into an international celebration of silliness, with dozens of cities around the world participating each year. The idea behind No Pants is simple: Random passengers board a subway car at separate stops in the middle of winter without pants. The participants do not behave as if they know each other, and they all wear winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. The only unusual thing is their lack of pants.

There are reports from participants on the Improv Everywhere website. More photos follow, below. NSFW-ish.

No Trousers Day participants on a flashmob ride in London. (REUTERS/Chris Helgren) Read the rest

How to get unstuck in 30 seconds

Unstuck is a new book from Noah Scalin offering 52 methods and strategies that one can use to get out of a creative rut. He's also running a bunch of 30 second videos from people describing their own tricks, including yours truly; Improv Everywhere's Charlie Todd; performance artist Slash Coleman; and Matt Lively. Read the rest

Improv Everywhere wedding

What happens when the founder of Improv Everywhere marries his girlfriend, another Improv Everywhere provocateur? See above. Congrats, Charlie Todd and Cody Lindquist! "Pro Wrestler Wedding" Read the rest

Improv Everywhere's "Say Something Nice" megaphone

Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere says:

Our latest project has a bit of "maker" flair to it, and I thought you'd enjoy.  We custom-built a lectern with a megaphone holster and then placed it in public places around New York.  We put a placard on it that read, "Say Something Nice."  The resulting video was posted this morning.
   Say Something Nice Read the rest

Improv Everywhere's new Mp3 Experiment video

[Video Link] Charlie Todd says: "3,500 people downloaded the same mp3 from our website and pressed play simultaneously along the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan.  What resulted was a massive silent party with glow sticks, camera flashes, and flashlights." Read the rest

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." Read the rest

BBC News on pranksters

Modern prank pioneer Joey Skaggs, culture jammer of the first order, alerts us to a BBC News Magazine story exploring the art of the perfect prank. The article references such fine tricksters as Russian art collective Voina, Improv Everywhere, and of course Skaggs himself. From the BBC News:
Television turned the prank into an expensive business with millions at risk. The budgets of TV and film allowed for exactly the kind of careful dramatic plotting that a good prank needs, fortunes were spent in creating versions of reality that were are at once, ridiculous to the viewer and plausible to the victim.

Nigel Crowle, an associate producer for Noel Edmonds and Jeremy Beadle, describes it as creating "layer upon layer of absurd situations, build it up, to a climax, which really if you analysed it make absolutely no sense whatsoever".

You almost need to bully your target into accepting a false reality, by not giving them the opportunity to consider the alternatives. Of course this is how advertising works.

Pranksters are the special forces of comedy, getting out into the field to tell truth through laughter and using the public space as a theatre.

"The art of the perfect prank"

 Joey Skaggs launches Art of the Prank - Boing Boing Boing Boing: Universal Bullshit Detector Watch by Joey Skaggs RU Sirius on pranksters and tricksters - Boing Boing Read the rest

King Philip IV signs autographs at The Met

The merry pranksters at Improv Everywhere brought King Philip IV to New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art to sign autographs beside his portrait, painted by Velázquez circa 1624. Improv Everywhere: King Philip IV Read the rest

Improv Everywhere No Pants Subway Ride 2011: Big Photo Gallery (dubiously SFW)

The 10th Annual No Pants Subway Ride took place on Sunday, January 9, 2011, with 3,500 participants in New York City and thousands more in 50 cities across the world. The event is organized by Improv Everywhere, and involves participants who strip down to their underwear as they go about their normal routine. Above and below, photos from NYC and elsewhere.

Participants in Zurich ride a tram, sans culottes. (REUTERS/Christian Hartmann)

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