I'm the founder of Improv Everywhere, having started the group way back in 2001. Ask me anything.

There is a new documentary about Improv Everywhere that has just been released on iTunes and direct download. Get it here: We Cause Scenes.

The director of the documentary, Matt Adams, will be answering questions on this thread as well, so ask him anything too! He's making the film $5 for a direct download today only for Reddit, use code REDDITAMA14

Proof: https://twitter.com/ImprovEvery/status/424241671912435712

This was lots of fun to do. Thanks for the awesome discussion. I log on to Reddit pretty regularly, so feel free to ask more questions, and I'll answer them eventually.

Comments: 383 • Responses: 90  • Date: 

McGrupp7626 karma

Have there ever been any ideas for improv scenarios that you guys almost did but rejected because it might have been too dangerous or illegal?

charlietodd56 karma

We never try to break the law. We've broken a ton of retail store policies, MTA regulations, park regulations, etc. So I'm happy to break the rules, but no one is trying to get arrested. A great example of the cops showing up but not being able to do anything was our Best Buy Uniform Prank. We had 100 people wear blue polo shirts and khaki pants in a Best Buy. They called 911, but the cops basically said, "It's not illegal to wear a blue polo shirt."

NotMathMan82124 karma

"It's not illegal to wear a blue polo shirt."

... yet. Just wait until Best Buy's lobbyists dig their claws into a Congressman.

charlietodd38 karma

They set us a cease and desist for selling blue polo shirts with a yellow Improv Everywhere logo. So I'm well aware of their legal team.

icopythat18 karma

They also used one of our photos from the prank on their official website and training material (without asking permission, I may add).

charlietodd23 karma

And without realizing it. We think.

vivemurph17 karma

As IE become more and more popular, are you afraid the surprise effect will disappear because people will tell themselves "Ahh nothing special, it must be IE again" ?

charlietodd21 karma

This definitely happens at annual events like the No Pants Subway Ride. But we work hard to stay original and try new things. But yeah, we've created a style where people who are familiar with the YouTube channel can recognize it if they stumble upon it. Fortunately there are like 7.5 million people in NYC who have never seen our YouTube channel.

vivemurph11 karma

Speaking of number of people, you should do a stunt in a very small town so remote that they barely have internet. Zombie invasion, improvised marathon, lot of tourists walking backward, etc! All the town would speak about it while they try to understand what happened. Edit : Typo

charlietodd16 karma

I staged some projects in Russia in a very remote town. It was a great experience. See: Russian Furniture Store Invasion

MickTheAnt16 karma

Are there any missions/ideas you've always wanted to do but logistically wouldn't be able to pull off?

charlietodd20 karma

I'd love to do something like our Look Up More mission but with multiple buildings. Like every building surrounding a park.

zoidberg7915 karma

Not to be too trivial but... Do you make a living out of this?

charlietodd23 karma

It's OK, that's the first question people always ask whenever I give talks. Yes, it's my job. I make revenue off of YouTube's partner program, get paid to do speaking engagements, get hired to stage things at festivals, get hired to stage projects at private events, consult a little bit. I don't really make money off of Improv Everywhere directly (apart from the YouTube ads), but it's become a career via the other things I get hired to do because of Improv Everywhere.

jordy2402 karma


charlietodd8 karma

Not that much, but enough that I can at least break even on the costs of producing the projects. More if something goes viral.

coldwine15 karma

What is the best reaction you have seen from a bystander?

charlietodd67 karma

At the No Pants Subway Ride when someone looked around at the car and realized they were the only one wearing pants and then took their own pants off.

coldwine10 karma

I think that's really cool. I hope you learned a tourist how to be properly dressed in the subway.

I'm a big fan of improveverywhere since I don't know when. I bought your book at least 5 (edit: almost exactly 4, I looked it up) years ago. I hope that I can join a mission one day. I don't live in the USA.

charlietodd8 karma

Thanks for buying the book!

CJFizzle14 karma

Have any stunts ever gone horribly wrong, and if so, what's your favorite one?

charlietodd16 karma

The Camera Flash Experiment was probably our biggest failure. I had 800 people on the Brooklyn Bridge in the pouring rain and the effect we were going for wasn't as cool as I hoped it would be. It worked... but it was a shitty night in the rain for something that didn't quite pay off.

iwanttobedoctor13 karma

What's your favourite public stunt you have done?

charlietodd29 karma

It's so hard to pick a favorite, but my favorite one last year was Conduct Us, where we set up an orchestra in the middle of NYC and let random people conduct them. The documentary are also does a great job of showing some of our early highlights, like our Fake U2 prank.

Cynthiaimprov12 karma

The mission that brought me to tears was "Best Game Ever". Holy cow - it just kept getting better and better, and the looks on those kid's faces. I had tears streaming down my cheeks by the end. I know there was controversy with the "Best Gig Ever", and I get that, I guess. "Best Game Ever" made up for it in spades. Those kids will take that day with them the rest of their lives. I don't see a down side at all!

charlietodd12 karma

Thanks. Yeah, the little league prank is definitely Improv Everywhere at it's best.

Zyrjello11 karma

In the early days, a lot of Improve Everywhere's missions were small, often subtle things involving just a handful of people. Some of my favorites were The Moebius and Suicide Jumper.

These days, it seems like most missions are large-scale stunts that require a mob of people to pull off. Do you guys have any plans to go back to the more discreet missions?

charlietodd11 karma

Actually we still do tons of small scale projects. Our big ones like the No Pants Subway Ride get more attention, but we did a ton of small scale things last year. Most of our Movies In Real Life series involved just a handful of actors. The big mob stuff is fun, but I have a better time with the smaller ones.

jpurnell11 karma

Who creates the music for the musicals? How much work/rehearsal goes into those?

charlietodd11 karma

Anthony King and Scott Brown, the creators of Gutenberg! The Musical!. Definitely check that show out as it's hilarious in the same way our musicals are. They are super talented. We usually have one long rehearsal and one dress rehearsal in the location.

kskill10 karma

If you could redo one (non-annual) prank from scratch, which one would it be and why?

charlietodd33 karma

The Moebius. Because it's probably the best idea we've ever had and the video is super shitty because it was 2003 and we didn't know what we were doing. I'll remake it at some point. Waiting for the right opportunity.

avwuff5 karma

Oh man, I loved this one. Just the mission report is excellent reading. And the choice of music... brilliant.

charlietodd8 karma

I'm glad you like it. Most people HATE that music. I thought it was funny. It's by Orbital and it's a sample of the Star Trek TNG episode that inspired the name of the prank. Back in the days where you could use copyrighted music on YouTube with no consequences.

avwuff4 karma

Haha actually I was referring to the music mentioned in the mission report, "Shiny Happy People" -- it's a song that's decent, but not one you'd want to listen to over and over, thus making it perfect for a guy with a boombox to continually walk through with.

Shook your hand once in Toronto, really glad you guys are still around and doing awesome stuff. :)

charlietodd7 karma

Oh that's funny. So for the record, we are back to ZERO people but me liking the Orbital song. Thanks for coming out to the Toronto Mp3 Experiment!

dollardude9 karma

In your own words can you please explain why Dollar Dudes is the best prank you've ever done and why it's so much better than all the other pranks you've ever done cause it is and you better not say it isn't. DOLLARDUDESFOREVER!

charlietodd13 karma

ha! I see you created your account to ask this question? So this is probably a friend from that obscure Dollar Dudes prank? It was the best because we had a white guy and a half Japanese guy playing Mexicans. Terrible casting.

xcmt9 karma

After four years of complaining, my (now) fiancee finally made it (quite prominently) into the official No Pants Subway Ride video for 2014. Please forward my thanks to your video editor. She is very pleased with her booty, and I'm happy to share the gift of dat ass with the world.

charlietodd5 karma

Ha! where is she in the video?

The_ryanmister8 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

How did you originally get the public involved in your stunts? You've grown quite a bit over the last few years, but in the beginning, how did you find people who were willing to participate?

mattadamsapple12 karma

It was really just a few people. Mostly people that Charlie knew from college and others that he met while taking classes at the UCB. That's the wonderful thing about NYC. Meeting like minded people that you can have fun with for the sake of having fun.

charlietodd6 karma

Yeah it was college buddies and my UCB level 1 classmates at first.

Tyguys8 karma

Hi there, massive fan for a long time, since the pre-YouTube days!

Two questions:

have you ever been worried with the size some events have gotten? For example your mp3 experiments.

Thanks for all the inspiration and fun memories!

charlietodd11 karma

Old school! Thanks for staying with us.

Yeah, I always think about how huge the Mp3 Experiment gets. This year I staged it TWICE to try to cut down the crowds but it didn't work. Next year we need a huge location. Or we need to do it even more times. It was much easier when 200 people would show up. :) But it's also really fucking cool that 7,000 New Yorkers want to be a part of our ridiculous event.

JrByte8 karma

Have you ever had the cops get involved in any of your stunts?

charlietodd6 karma

Yeah a few times. Most notably at Best Buy, our U2 rooftop prank and at the 5th Annual No Pants Subway Ride

xxDamnationxx9 karma

As I was heading back upstairs, I apologized to the head cop, “I’m really sorry we wasted your time today.” He replied, “You were trying to do a funny thing. I understand, but we had to do something.”

This is so awesome

charlietodd5 karma

Yeah, they were ultimately cool once they figured out what was going on.

brandnewlow7 karma

Charlie, thank you for making the world more interesting.

Way back in 2005 I was struggling through my first job out of college and realizing the real world can be a tough, boring place. Someone sent me a link to the U2 Prank video. I watched it and then devoured all the others.

Just knowing that someone was out there making the world a more whimsical, interesting place was a huge encouragement to me to stop whining about my boring desk drone life and to pursue things I was interested in. 9 years later I own my own business and couldn't feel more fulfilled and challenged by my work.

So I don't have a question per se, but just wanted to say thank you for setting a good example in terms of making your own way in the world and making it a bit better place for it.

charlietodd5 karma

That is awesome to hear.

RuthCarter6 karma

What is a typical day like for you?

charlietodd13 karma

My worst days are sitting on the Internet for 10 hours answering emails and dealing with logistical stuff. My best days are traveling to somewhere like New Zealand to give a talk on Improv Everywhere (I'm going in 2 weeks!)

guelphgryphons6 karma

Do you reinvest the money you make from YouTube ads back into Improv Everywhere?

charlietodd8 karma

Yes, the money we make on YouTube ads pays for the productions. So that money is paying for the production company I use (camera crew, editors, producers) and things like props and costumes.

Hawful6 karma

Do you guys do much stage improv? I know you do talks, but do you ever do classic long-form or short-form type stuff?

charlietodd15 karma

Yes, I perform every Saturday night at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre with my team The Curfew. I also host the show CageMatch every Thursday. Both shows are long form improv. I haven't done short form in about 14 years. I don't consider Improv Everywhere to be improv, by the way, despite our dumb name.

henryhherman4 karma

A few of us attempted to put together a flash mob in our area to do something fun for the community and the 'secret' was let out by someone who thought they were doing the right thing, not knowing the politics and procedures in putting together a successful flash mob, and proceeded to advise security at the shopping mall it was going to take place to get their approval. They, of course, vehemently opposed the idea. What advice could you give on setting up a flash mob so it doesn't fail? How do you arrange people without publicly posting it on Facebook, for example? How far in advance do you typically plan for something like that? With 'Frozen Grand Central' for example, how much planning and preperation went into it beforehand? Overall length of time to orchestrate it? Any tips on what NOT to do? Any advice you could give would be great! Thanks, Todd!

charlietodd3 karma

Thanks for following us on Facebook. I saw your comment over there.

Man, that sucks. A mall is NEVER going to give permission for a big mob. You really should never ask permission from retail stores or malls. They aren't going to say yes. And you shouldn't mention on social media that you're going to do it. Each mall has someone whose job it is to monitor their social media mentions. All brands do this.

The secret is to meet somewhere else. Meet in a nearby public park. And only THEN do you tell the participants where the prank is happening. Only you and other organizers you trust should know the location before the meeting point.

Prevailing4 karma

How did this all start? Was it spontaneous?

charlietodd7 karma

Answered this below. It was a spontaneous prank where I pretended to be Ben Folds in a bar with the help of a college friend accomplice.

collegejerk4 karma

Has a stunt ever gone wrong and ended up too sad or weird to actually post?

charlietodd4 karma

I've posted everything we've ever done except ONE project. I won't reveal what it is because I will eventually do it again. It never got posted because our camera guys got caught and the footage ended up being too shitty. Nothing has been to sad or weird though.

CountAardvark4 karma

How do you get people for the scenes, and how would I join in?

charlietodd12 karma

The smaller projects are cast with actors from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (where I perform in NYC) and other longtime members of Improv Everywhere. The big ones are open-to-the-public and announced on our email list. We sometimes cast the smaller ones through that list too.

Offtheheazy4 karma

Love the videos keep them coming!

Any ideas for a new series? Loved the movies in real life and having weekly videos to look forward to!

charlietodd3 karma

Thanks! We're hoping to do a series this year of musicals, but I'm not sure if it will happen or not. It was fun doing a series for the first time. You can see all the Movies In Real Life vids here if people don't know what we're talking about.

Cynthiaimprov4 karma

Hey - I've been a fan since Moebius Loop way back when. My group and I have tried to create that, and it's a blast! My question: What tools are best to mobilize and motivate participants for your missions? I've tried a couple here where I live, and people sign up, then fail to show up on the appointed day. I think they get cold feet and can't follow through. When you plan to do something with 50 people and you end up with 10 people it's discouraging. How do you keep them in the game till it's game time? Thanks and keep up the GREAT work!

charlietodd6 karma

My advice would be to start small. Find projects (like the Moebius) that only need 10 people. Once you do a bunch of those, you'll have a core team that feels invested and wants to keep coming out, and you'll grow.

alex_squeezebox4 karma

I am so inspired by you guys! Last year in college I went inside a random classroom dressed in a white tux with my accordion, and just burst into song. I didn't know the teacher or anyone in the class - I just wanted to give the people in the class the weirdest, most interesting an surreal experience they ever had. I absolutely adore doing stuff like that, but my question is this - when you guys first started, how did you find other like-minded people to participate? Obviously it must have gotten easier as time went on. I'm extremely introverted so it's hard for me to just go up to someone and say something like, "Hey, let's find ten people and walk around campus in purple robes, holding candles with one hand, and a coffin with the other, staring at people as they walk by."

charlietodd3 karma

College lecture halls are such a great venue for pranks. So many good examples on YouTube. I was a theatre major so I knew other actors and I was involved with improv and new other comedians. Try to get involved with that stuff! you can't be that introverted if you staged that classroom stunt.

zachlinder3 karma

Hold Me Kiss Me Kill Me Thrill Me?

charlietodd5 karma

Yes Zach, this indeed a line you have in the U2 rooftop prank video

halfpakihalfmexi3 karma

I hope to be a part of a flash mob one day thanks to y'all. When can we expect another musical? And if you're ever in Houston count me in in whatever is going on!

charlietodd5 karma

I really want to do more musicals. It's been 2 years since we've done one. One of my goals for 2014 is to do at least one new one.

madsbrain3 karma

Are there any missions you have been dying to try?

charlietodd17 karma

I want to get 500 guys dressed as Snowtroopers to walk around Central Park the day after a blizzard. The problem is I don't have access to that many costumes (don't think the 501st Legion has that many Snowtroopers), and I also don't know in advance when a blizzard is coming.

BeadleBelfry5 karma

Maybe just a Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and a tauntaun? Like, recreate one of the other scenes from Hoth in the meantime?

charlietodd5 karma

Yeah, that would be good. Hmmmm... where to get a tauntaun...

Gungan_Style2 karma

It seems like there are 350 such costumes in the world. It might be hard to pull this off :)


charlietodd6 karma

I actually reached out to the local NY-area 501st groups when I staged Star Wars Subway Car and I didn't get anywhere. One guy responded but then cancelled. I ended up working with College Humor as they had some costumes.

icopythat3 karma

What would either of you do with an unlimited budget? ...besides hiring me all of the time, of course.

charlietodd6 karma

I would hire an AD on all of my projects.

bgeller3 karma

Did NYC fine you for painting the sidewalks in the tourist lane prank?

charlietodd3 karma

Nope! It was chalk, so it went away after a few rains. Bloomberg said "it was cute."

Tropicana553 karma


charlietodd8 karma

In 2006 when the cops arrested 8 people in their underwear and the Associated Press was there covering the story. That is what spread it around the world. I was on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show that night discussing the legality of pantlessness. That was the 5th year and 150 people were there. It was 300 the next year. Then 900 the year after that. It kept growing.

uberlad3 karma


charlietodd7 karma

If you are looking to get into a creative career:

Do exactly what you want to do and give it away for free. Over and over again. Do not wait for someone to give you permission to create what you want to create. Greenlight yourself and get to work.

Hawful2 karma

I know for these scenes inspiration can come from anywhere, so what is the weirdest moment, or thing that you got a flash of inspiration from?

charlietodd6 karma

Locations usually inspire ideas for me. Once I was getting lunch in my old neighborhood and saw a 4 foot tall wall, and I immediately new I needed to put a Suicide Jumper on it. video

kikiwas872 karma

Which stunts are the hardest to pull off?

charlietodd6 karma

The ones that need an EXACT number of actors, like Grand Central Lights. Very hard to recruit the right number. If you have too many, then some people are upset they can't do it. If you don't have enough, you have an empty window and it looks shitty.

Vextes2 karma

What do you think would be an easy and effective scene to organize around a college campus?

charlietodd6 karma

Well our Frozen Grand Central project was replicated on college quads all over the world when that craze was going on in 2008. So that's definitely an easy one. Everyone can freeze in place for 5 minutes and it's always really cool to see. We tour our Mp3 Experiment project to college campuses too. We just did one at University of Florida.

duprawk2 karma

where did you find that girl at 1:54??


charlietodd9 karma

Her name is LJ and she started coming to the No Pants Subway Ride in 2006. That was the year the cops stopped the ride and handcuffed people in their underwear. She wound up in an Associated Press photo that went around the world. She later reached out to me and started coming every year. She's one of the organizers now!

GaymerG2 karma

I absolutely adore your stunts! They always make me wish I was in them too ;)!

Question: What is the craziest improv you've wanted to do, but haven't yet?

Follow up: How can I join?

charlietodd1 karma

Thanks! I've answered both of these so see below.

blueberrybub2 karma

How were you like in high school?

charlietodd5 karma

I was not the class clown, but I was the guy producing the class clown's antics from behind-the-scenes and under the cover of being an A student.

Euchre2 karma

Does it concern you that you might inspire someone who doesn't truly understand the theory of your work to do a stunt that could go terribly wrong and cause serious harm? I know that your works involve serious thought and planning, but sadly I've seen many fans who just think its a fabulous example of simple, irresponsible trolling.

charlietodd3 karma

Hopefully our projects have inspired people to go out and do positive things, but yeah, if you put something out there anyone could take it the wrong way. There are also tons of other prank channels on YouTube, so I don't feel too responsible for something like Milking, for example.

ckwalsh2 karma

Hey, love following Improv Everywhere and watching the videos/reading the block posts of your missions!

What missions take the most planning and to pull off, and do you think those missions turn out better or worse than those with a bit less planning?

Also, I'm in the Seattle area and have had an idea rattling around in my head for a fun scene, but I don't have the connections to pull it off (would require some choreography and a few people who actually know how to dance, rather than my two left feet). Do you know any groups in the pacific northwest that do stuff along the same lines as you do in New York?

charlietodd6 karma

Thanks for reading the mission reports! Sometimes I feel like no one has the attention span to read them anymore.

It's really fulfilling to work on something for a long period of time and have it pay off. I spent like a month working on Grand Central Lights and watching the end result was really satisfying. That said, there have been simple ideas we've put together in a matter of days that got more views.

There is a group called Emerald City Improv in Seattle that was inspired by Improv Everywhere. Look them up.

Ingolfisntmyrealname2 karma

The moments leading up to some event, are you ever excited or nervous? I imagine after so many years you get a little immune, but I could imagine new scenes lead to a certain raise in heart beat? Also, to what extend do you participate in some scene/stunt yourself? Do you often just pretend to be among the audience or do you do certain roles besides organizing? Love your work by the way!

charlietodd7 karma

If it's something we've never staged, I get excited and a little nervous. I've done this for so long that I generally know what to expect, but if it's something that's unauthorized I worry about how long we're going to get away with it for. Our prank at Staples lasted for like 5 minutes before we got asked to leave! So it's stressful-- did it last long enough for us to make a video out of it? Or will we have nothing to show for our work? In the end that one was pretty funny due to how short it was.

I usually have some sort of role in the pranks, though yeah, often a behind-the-scenes role. Sometimes I hold a camera. Sometimes I'm there to talk to the actor in between the different parts. I had tons of fun working the 11-year-old actor in our Harry Potter video a couple of months ago, for example.

thewhaler2 karma

I'm someone whose done Improv on and off for the past 10 years. Performed on a house team, trained in the Harold, taken several classes.

Would you really call what you do Improv?

charlietodd9 karma

I'm someone who has performed improv for the past 17 years, continuously. I trained in the Harold at UCB and have been on a house team at UCB for 12 years. I also taught classes at UCB for many years.

No, I do not call what we do improv. It's just a shitty name for the group I came up with when I was 22.

TehLadyK2 karma

Any plans to do anything nice and big in the UK? Possibly Nottingham? I'd love to be able to come join you guys in something, but barely anything seems to be in the UK :c

charlietodd2 karma

We've toured to the UK a few times. Manchester, Newcastle, and maybe Blackburn? I can't believe we haven't been to London. Hopefully we will fix this soon.

ShleepsWithBooks2 karma

Hello! Thanks for doing this AMA!! I just graduated with a Theatre Ed degree but am hoping to get some professional Theatre experience. What kind of tips/advice can you offer about getting a job in theatre? I'm interested in mostly social Theatre.

charlietodd2 karma

It is a tough field. I feel lucky that I randomly stumbled onto what became Improv Everywhere. It's tough for actors. Though with an Ed degree it sounds like you're more interested in teaching? I don't know a ton about that-- I have a couple of friends who teach theatre at colleges and I know it's very competitive (and sometimes they have to wait tables in addition to teaching if they don't get enough classes.) One bit of advice is to be nice to everyone you meet in the field. You never know when an old acquaintance can help you out down the road.

TheJester2202 karma

I've been following you guys since the Best Buy skit was the latest. By far some of the best improv/pranking I've seen. Keep up the good work and I look forward to more!!

charlietodd3 karma

Thanks so much for following us for 8 years!

mongoose9982 karma

What advice would you have for a college student in Boston looking to break into the improv scene? I'm in my school's troupe and also did (read, loved) No Pants Subway Ride Boston!

charlietodd5 karma

I know there are some good improv theatres in Boston. ImprovBoston I've been to. My main advice to anyone looking to get serious about comedy is to move to NYC and train at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Thanks for being a part of the Boston No Pants Subway Ride!

agentverne2 karma

Hi, thanks for both of you for taking the time to do this

I've enjoyed watching the videos of your missions and have only ever been able to take part in the ones you've done here in the UK.

The two questions I have are: what do you think of the groups who have started because they were inspired by you (such as the ones from the now-lapsed Improv Everywhere: Global site on ning), and have there been any ideas you've had for missions that you've started planning but never made it to the execution form one reason or another?

charlietodd4 karma

I've loved seeing our concepts spread around the world. It is especially cool to see the No Pants Subway Ride happening in places like India and China. One guy even did it in Cairo this year. It's been fun to see some of those regional groups do cool original stuff as well.

Thanks for doing the UK tour stuff. I can't believe we haven't done an Mp3 Experiment in London yet. Long overdue.

Yeah there are always like 10 projects on my "need to do" list. Sometimes we get close to doing one but end up deciding it's not quite right. They got back to the list and hopefully I eventually figure out how to pull it off.

rot__kopf2 karma

What made you decide to go from performing on stage to starting Improv Everywhere? How did Improv Everywhere get started?

charlietodd6 karma

The basic reason was that I didn't have a stage! I did tons of theatre in college but when I moved to NYC no one knew who I was. So while I was figuring out the theatre and comedy scene in NYC I decided to start staging things in public. Making the city a stage. We Cause Scenes does a great job of showing the early stuff when I was 22. There's footage from those old projects in the film. The first thing I ever did was fool people into thinking I was Ben Folds

Echuu2 karma

Been a big fan every since Frozen Grand Central, and got the documentary day 1 of course. Don't have any questions, just love what you do. The little league game, merry-go-round race and kids mini-golf open are some of my favorites. Was very fun with weekly videos, hope you guys can do more of that!

charlietodd2 karma

Thanks so much for watching the documentary on day 1. Yeah, it was tons of work going weekly. I don't think we'll do it that often, but I hope to do another series this year.

AGallagher4102 karma

Do you keep any of the props and costumes after you're done filming?

charlietodd6 karma

I save some stuff. Some stuff I give to the actors. I let the Ghostbusters actors keep their costumes from the library prank. The boulder from the Indiana Jones prank had to be destroyed sadly. It was too big to keep.

Specialis_Sapientia1 karma

Don't have any question, just wanted to say thanks for creating Improw Everywhere, besides the joy it has spread, it has been great fun to participate in the No Pants Subway Ride events here locally, including organising this year's one. It is really something I look forward to each year.

charlietodd3 karma

Awesome. Thanks for writing.

corey15051 karma

What was your involvement with comedyworx in Raleigh and how did you like it? I saw your picture on the wall there about a week ago.

charlietodd3 karma

Ha! Yes, I did improv at ComedySportz Chapel Hill, which was a cousin to ComedySportz Raleigh, which eventually became ComedyWorx. I met some of my best friends at ComedySportz. It was hugely influential. It led me to seek out the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC. I met people like Anthony King and Ken Keech, who are both major parts of the documentary as they were key people in the early days of Improv Everywhere.

wafflebottom1 karma

Have you ever been arrested? (in relation to improv everywhere)

charlietodd6 karma

I was in handcuffs after the Fake U2 Concert but the charges were dropped. That's the only time I've been cuffed.

BeadleBelfry1 karma

How in touch are you with the "Improv Everywhere" groups in other cities such as Boston, Portland, or Philly, or are they separate totally entities from what you personally work on? If they are separate, what are your thoughts on them?

charlietodd4 karma

They are totally separate. I communicate with the leaders of the regional No Pants Subway Ride each year and give them a heads up on the date, etc. I've met a few of the regional organizers. James Cobalt from Boston has been to a few of our NYC events. Jeff Moriarty in Phoenix has always been really friendly with me over email. If we tour to a city where there is a good local group, I try to reach out and meet up.

TzuTingLin1 karma

Are you going to let other place found Improv Everywhere x(or something like that... just like TEDx)? It might will be awesome that other place also have s group like Improv Everywhere.

charlietodd3 karma

I've struggled with this over the years. I used to have a forum to help get other groups started around the world, and had some success with that. Ultimately I don't like to give out the "Improv Everywhere" name to a stranger on the web. I'm all for these ideas and concepts spreading though. And we open source events like the No Pants Subway Ride and Black Tie Beach. I really just don't have the time to administer chapters around the world. TED has a dedicated staff that can handle TEDx. I don't have a staff.

jesslaurel1 karma

I'm a longtime mp3 experiment participant (and even met you once at the Webutante Ball!) and I've noticed that as the number of participants grows so much, the mp3 experiment loses some of what makes it fun - the element of surprise of the non-participants, not knowing who else is participating, and starting out isolated but eventually coming together in a big group (the Times Square/Bryant Park experiment was a highlight for me). Last year you tried splitting it into 2 time slots, but even still it was crazy crowded. Do you have trouble finding new spots? Do you have ideas of how to get it back to the smaller, more spread-out original adventure?

charlietodd2 karma

Yeah I think this year we need a bigger location, and we might need to do it over 2 days. We'll see. It was definitely too crowded this year. Though I gotta say the mall on the 3rd floor in the 3 PM edition was perfect. Thanks for participating! And cool we met at that party!

architect_son1 karma

Would you ever choose to collaborate with the Yes Men?

charlietodd3 karma

I have! I was a consultant on the Fake NY Times project. I was a very small part of it. I couldn't believe they pulled that off. I love their stuff.

mrmurdie1 karma

Are there any plans to come to Europe, I find it a shame that i see all this amazing stuff that i cant attend. I'm sure there are the numbers here!

charlietodd2 karma

Yes, we love touring to Europe. We are doing an Mp3 Experiment in Barcelona in a month or so. We'll announce details on our email list.

jbluphin1 karma

What is the worst reaction (ie, most negative) you've gotten from bystanders or authorities?

charlietodd2 karma

The worst has been someone dialing 911, as in the Best Buy prank. Other than that, sometimes people just don't care for what's happening and speak up about it. The documentary shows some negative reactions we got from our Amazing Hypnotist prank and discusses how we learned from it.

Prevailing1 karma

What have you seen happen during one of your stunts that you're sad wasn't caught on camera?

charlietodd6 karma

Oh man like a million things. I'm always seeing great reactions and wishing there was a camera person there. But we do things that are so spread out you can't catch everything. Also, in the early days I didn't film everything. We didn't film our Circle Line Tours and I've always regretted it.

[deleted]1 karma


charlietodd3 karma


Dabee6251 karma

Have you ever considered doing an MP3 experiment where you give one person the wrong MP3 and watch them get really awkward and confused?

charlietodd2 karma

We sort of did this with Mp3 Experiment Nine where we made people think they had a special mp3, even though everyone had it. At the Mp3 Experiment 2.0 we used a script that cause people to download one of 4 mp3s, and no one knew it until halfway through the track.

But maybe we could single out one person... we'd have to know for sure he is coming.

acorey231 karma

I don't have a question, but I'm using a question mark?

charlietodd4 karma

I see what you did there?

isitmeurlookin41 karma

Pantless subway ride NYC. Thank you for this.

charlietodd1 karma

Haha - you're welcome.

noathings1 karma

Hey you're such an inspiring person :)

Here's an idea I thought was an Improv scene worthy: Organize a "guy's night out football game" on the bus/subway. Have a tv installed, some chips, beer ofcourse and loud cheering when there's a goal. Act like you're at home.

Looking forward to the documentary!

charlietodd5 karma

Thanks! Fun idea. I've thought of doing something similar but at a Target or Walmart in the TV department. Like just show up and do it in front of their display TVs. You probably would get kicked out fast.

andreaskopp1 karma

Greetings from Munch. I am the guy the organized the Munich ride for the last 3 years. I just watched the movie. Nice to understand the full story behind improv finally. Any plans to come back to Munich? Also is why don´t you open up like a global improv group and invite all the organizers from all the 60 cities. Would be awesome to get to know all the people. I have met the coolest people in the last three years I did the ride.

charlietodd2 karma

Thanks for saying hi. I had a great time when I was in Munich a few years back. Need to come for oktoberfest one year.

It would be cool to get all the No Pants Subway Ride organizers together for sure. Hmmmm...

W1SEN1CK1 karma

Hey guys, big fans!

Will there be any more sports scenes in the near future?

charlietodd1 karma

I'm actually planning one right now but I'm not sure if it will happen or not. But yes, I hope so. I'm not a huge sports fan, but doing things like the Mini Golf Open are so much fun.

empathyx1 karma

How was your experience doing your TED talk?
Thanks for doing this.

charlietodd4 karma

It was great. It was actually at a TEDx conference in Indiana. I almost didn't say yes to their offer because it was far away and there are a million TEDx's so why wouldn't I just do one near me? But the organizer Christian Long was really persistent and I finally said yes. I'm so happy I did. They filmed it super well and the crowd was AMAZING. They were just so excited to be there. Then the video got promoted to TED.com and became an official TED talk, which was huge for me. I then got invited to TED to stage a prank - The Spinning Beach Ball of Death

HayleyFiasco1 karma

Loved "We Cause Scenes" - very informative and entertaining to hear the background stories and learn about the missions meant for the TV Pilot that never was.

If you were given an unlimited budget where money no issue, is there a grandiose mission you dream of pulling off? Ever thought of working with more celebrities - say for music videos?

charlietodd3 karma

I get approached to work on music videos from time to time, but usually not by the artist. It's from a marketing person from the record label and the artist isn't available. I might do one one day but a good opportunity hasn't come up. I'm a big Flaming Lips fan and my dream is to collaborate with them on something. I've gone as far as to email their manager, but I've never gotten a response. Their public stunts were really influential to me.

bluetreefrog1 karma

Thank you for doing this, I would like to ask, how do you come up with the different ideas for your scenes?

charlietodd4 karma

The best ideas are the ones that are site specific. Like, I was riding an elevator in the subway system when I came up with High Five Escalator