improv everywhere: frozen grand central.

If there’s one thing our day-to-day lives are missing, it’s probably a little bit of good ol’ prankster anarchy. Straddling the intersection between loitering, protest, and performance art, Improv Everywhere has a mission to “cause scene of chaos and joy in public places.”

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Created by comedian and improv actor Charlie Todd in 2001, the group is based in New York but conducts its missions in cities around the world through its network of undercover agents. Their latest stunt involved sending 200 agents into Grand Central Station and having them collectively freeze for 5 minutes. The result of this is unexpectedly fascinating.  It’s interesting to watch how we’ve become so engrained in the commonplace that even the smallest sort of upheaval in our schedules causes this much wonderment. Some people were enthralled, others were confused, and some were just really, really suspicious.

Some stunts have a more obvious social commentary to them, like last October when they sent 100 shirtless guys shopping  at an Abercrombie & Fitch in NYC.

Pictures of a half-naked overweight man standing happily next to the ubiquitous male model greeter are fun, but also make a statement about inclusion and male body image. Other times, the mission name itself tells you all you need to know; “No Pants! Subway Ride” doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. It’s exactly what happened this January when 2000 agents in 10 cities around the world simultaneously got on the subway in their underwear. Watching the videos of people’s reactions is about as much fun, conversely, as you can have with your pants on.

The site is loaded with pics and videos from more than 70 stunts and if you’re in the mood to join in you can sign up to be an undercover agent yourself. I joined, and I’m eagerly awaiting my turn to take my pants off in public.

Comments

  1. So fk’n cool, i love the reactions from Grand Central.

  2. They had an event last month in Toronto. No Pants on the subway!
    http://torontoist.com/2008/01/a_brief_history.php

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