“It’s the Whole Earth Catalogue for politicos.”Wes “Scoop” Nisker, author of Crazy Wisdom
Improv Everywhere (IE) is a New York group that stages choreographed but spontaneous-looking performances in public spaces, often with assistance from their huge army of loyal volunteers. IE was founded in 2001 by Charlie Todd, who met many of his “Senior Agents” while performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Their performances, which they call “missions,” have no particular political goals. Instead, IE tries to turn the boring monotony of urban life on its head and instill a sense of wonder and absurdity in the familiar scenes of city life. Past actions included the famous “Frozen Grand Central,” in which hundreds of volunteers simultaneously “paused” for five minutes in the middle of the station; the “MP3 Experiments,” where people followed recorded instructions to dance, jump, and sing in sync; site-specific mini-musicals; a fake U2 concert; and a tuxedo-wearing bathroom attendant at the Times Square McDonald’s.