By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics

Improv Everywhere


Improv Everywhere is a flash comedy sketch, stunt, and prank group.  Charlie Todd founded the collective in 2001, and it continues to be based in New York City but also travels with "missions" of causing scenes and playing pranks in public spaces.  The group posts missions online and invites "agents" to participate in their scenes and games.  Smaller, more involved missions are circulated among people who have worked with the group for a long time or have particular skills, like singing, or fit particular profiles, like being twins.  Other, larger mission are open to anyone on Improv Everywhere's mailing list or who see the mission call posted online.  So far, tens of thousands of people in fifteen different countries have participated in Improv Everywhere missions.  Some missions, like the McDonald's Bathroom Attendant or Black Friday Dollar Store, are one-off and created to make a particular point.  Others, like the No Pants Subway Ride or the MP3 Experiments, have become annual or touring missions that many people can take part in.

Improv Everywhere draws on the power of humor and joy in all of their missions.  They encourage people to see public space differently or to question accepted ways the world is structured.  Unlike Laughter For A Change (and despite their name!), Improv Everywhere does not actually use many techniques of improv comedy.  They often prepare scenes or offer instructions for their missions and then see what happens when people play out unusual situations in public.

Documentation is a key part of Improv Everywhere's civic practice.  They make sure to include special agents with cameras, both still and video, as part of their missions.  They also write up each mission as a blog entry, where they can detail how the mission was planned, interesting things that happened during the mission, any consequences, and gather together all the related media.
If you're interested in Improv Everywhere's work, please go ahead and contact them here!

Contributed by Samantha Close on 5/10/14

Improv Everywhere Media

Improv Everywhere Documentary Trailer

Meet a Black Person

No Shirts

Writers Against (Library) Piracy


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