Sunday, 11th January – it is cold, it is windy, it is chilly – thousands of people across the world leave their pants at home before going to the subway, deciding to become part of the 14th annual ‘No Pants Subway Ride’. Travellers of all shapes and sizes flash their bums and pale legs, joining others from some of the world’s biggest cities around the globe, in order to take part in a yearly prank which was initiated by the comedy group Improv Everywhere in New York in 2000.
It all started 14 years ago, when a group of seven guys decided to board the subway without any pants on, just for a laugh and in order to amuse themselves by gauging the other passengers’ reactions to their joke. Since then, the silliness has spread like wildfire. This year, it was estimated that in total, around 4,000 participants from 60 cities in over 25 countries around the world, also followed in their cold and naked footsteps.
Improv Everywhere is a comedy-performing art group formed by Charlie Todd, with the slogan ‘We Cause Scenes’, whose mission is to ‘cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places.’
Apart from the ‘No Pants Subway Ride’ stunt, they have organised many, many other such jokes, all of which can be admired on their official website: improveverywhere.com
For example, in one of their stunts called ‘The Mannequin Mob’, the group called to arms a myriad number of ‘undercover agents’ who donned white Morph suits (white spandex skin-tight suits which cover the entire body). They entered a store in Manhattan and put on that store’s clothing while freezing in place and posing as mannequins next to the actual mannequins in the same shop. The customers and employees were amused and even took pictures of the event. However, the security guards did not seem to like it much as they called the police who reprimanded and handcuffed the performers.
Improv Everywhere also has a side-project entitled Movies in Real Life, which basically features actors dressing up as popular movie characters and enacting scenes from the films in certain public locations. An example is the Harry Potter in Real Life prank where an 11-year old child actor who was dressed up as Harry Potter, could be seen wandering around the New York Pennsylvania Station with a ticket in his hand, searching for Platform 9¾. ‘Harry’ roved all around the station with his trunk and caged owl, asking people and passers-by, how he could get to the magical school of Hogwarts, and trying to buy food with ‘wizarding money’.
I really wish I could have seen that!
Yes it is silly, but come on admit it, they are hilarious aren’t they? If you want to see more, you might even like to take a look at Improv Everywhere’s 2013 movie ‘We Cause Scenes’ which tells the tale of this group’s exploits in more detail. Here’s a peek at the film’s trailer