I’ve been meaning to write about Improv Everywhere for quite some time now, so I guess there is no better time than the present.
Improv Everywhere is, at its core, about having fun. We’re big believers in “organized fun”. In the process we bring excitement to otherwise unexciting locales and give strangers a story they can tell for the rest of their lives. We’re out to prove that a prank doesn’t have to involve humiliation or embarrassment; it can simply be about making someone laugh, smile, or stop to notice the world around them.
Sometimes their missions involve lots of people and sometimes just a few.
They first caught my attention when I read about their Best Buy visit in April 2006. Folks showed up at Best Buy dressed in blue shirts.
The idea for this mission was submitted by a stranger via email. Agent Slavinsky wrote in to suggest I get either a large group of people in blue polo shirts and khakis to enter a Best Buy or a group in red polo shirts and khakis to enter a Target. Wearing clothing almost identical to the store’s uniform, the agents would not claim to work at the store but would be friendly and helpful if anyone had a question.
Most recently, their Mobile Desktop adventure made me laugh. The geeky ones really draw me in.
For our latest mission, three agents entered a Starbucks one by one with their own giant desktop computer and CRT monitor. They bought coffee and worked at their computers as if they were laptops. One computer even had a Wi-Fi card installed, enabling our agent to surf the web.
I was at a Starbucks recently picking up a Chai. I don’t stop there regularly (probably because the local one is a pain in the ass to get to by car on the wrong side of the road), but I had a gift card I’d received for doing some friend-based computer support. Sure enough, in my 3 visits to empty the card there was always at least one person with a laptop sitting there and working.
You should also read up on the MP3 Experiment (they have actually done 4 of them now). It’s a great creative idea that has a very unique experience for those involved. Everyone gets an MP3 track ahead of time (they are not allowed to listen to it). When they get together, they all start the track on their portable players at the same time. It’s a combination of music, simon says, and other activities to get the crowd to interact with each other based on ‘timing’ everything just right — and knowing that people won’t be in sync.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my other non-geek favorites though. Red Heads.
For our latest mission, over 50 redheads rode the subway together and protested a Manhattan Wendy’s for their “racist logo.”
The visual impact of that one with them all on the subway and the poor chap who walks into their car totally oblivious is funny as well. Dunno why that’s my kind of humour, but it is.
Hey Murray, being the actor/geek/writer that you are, I would think this kind of thing would be right up your alley — and close enough to get involved in.