I love the idea of messing with people's minds; surprises that bring smiles and gasps are the nectar of life. Laughter and human interaction are also essential for survival, particularly in large cities like New York.
Improv Everywhere, an alternative comedy troupe on the east coast, tries to create comedy within the real world using hundreds of volunteers. Their mission: to cause a scene!
Every month or so the leaders organize a "mission" to shock, humor, entertain, and provoke thought in complete strangers. To understand how ingenious their approach is you should read the complete missions. Some of my favorites:
- The Moebius: Improv Everywhere agents created a living moebius strip in the Astor Place Starbucks. Seven undercover agents meticulously repeated a five-minute slice of time for twelve consecutive repetitions. Starbucks employees and patrons were frightened, confused, and ultimately entertained as they found themselves stuck, without escape, in the middle of a time loop.
"You know, there's another Starbucks right over there, I bet this is all happening there, too."
- The Amazing Hypnotist (and part two): A "hypnotist" (agent) made "volunteers" (other agents) perform embarassing acts for a live park audience. After amazingly getting all of these "volunteers" to start doing their crazy acts as a finale, the hypnotist runs away to leave the crowd frantically trying to break the spells.
Man: You are going to think I’m crazy, but you have been hypnotized.
Agent: (patronizingly) Ohhh...ok. Thank you very much, sir.
Man: I know you think I’m crazy. You are hypnotized right now!
Agent: (with a smirk) Thank you very much for telling us.
Man: I’m not crazy!
- Best Buy: Bring a large group of people wearing clothing identical to Best Buy's uniform (blue polo shirt and khaki pants) into a Best Buy. Have them spread out across the store. The agents would not claim to work at the store but would be friendly and helpful if anyone had a question. When asked what they were doing all of them would respond: "Oh, I am just waiting for a friend."
"Thomas Crown Affair! Thomas Crown Affair!," one employee shouted.