At Untapped, we’ve always prided ourselves on digging up some of the quirkiest things about New York. From Napoleon’s penis being stored in a basement in New Jersey, to the jumbo jet hidden in a Bushwick playground to the Superhero Supply Store in Brooklyn. We report about these zany subjects because we believe it makes New York (and all cities) tick. As Untapped’s founder, I think these stories are important reminders that we’re human, even as we sometimes auto-pilot through the concrete jungles that we call home.
Improv Everywhere is an organization that goes beyond this, creating those “quintessential New York” moments for us. You might recognize them from the annual No Pants Subway Ride or frozen Grand Central. Maybe you’ve participated in the MP3 Experiment. Every other week at work, I screen an inspiring TED Talk and this month I came across Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere, speaking at TedxBloomington. I’ve compiled some of the great New York Improv Everywhere missions and at the very end is the TED Talk. Be prepared to be entertained for the next 10 minutes.
No Pants Subway Ride
This annual tradition began in 2002 with just 7 people, all male. In 2011, 3500 people participated just in New York and 48 other cities around the world also took part.
Frozen Grand Central
207 people freeze in place in Grand Central Station.
Who You Gonna Call?
Ghostbusters is brought to life in the New York Public Library. [Also check out Untapped’s coverage of the all-night scavenger hunt in the NYPL].
Takeover of Best Buy with dozens wearing almost the same uniform as the employees: royal blue shirt, khaki pants and a belt. Confusion ensues.
With the first MP3 experiment in 2004, 3500 participated in the 2011 edition that involved 2 meeting points, two “tribes” in different color shirts, glow sticks, masks and camera flashes. Everyone downloaded the same MP3 which contained a mix of music and instructions. Kind of a hip(ster) version of the flash mob dinners in Paris and New York.
Improv Everywhere heads to JFK Airport to welcome total strangers with signs, balloons and more.
It has always bothered Charlie that people often comment that those involved have too much time on their hands. He says in the TEDx talk, “We don’t have too much time on their hands. The participants of Improv Everywhere events have just as much leisure time as any other New Yorkers. They just occasionally choose to spend it in an unusual way.” Untapped believes in that too. Check out what’s next for Improv Everywhere at https://improveverywhere.com/