Since 2001 Charlie Todd and his organisation, Improv Everywhere, have made more than 100 crazy improvisations come to life in public places. During the 2011 Design Indaba from 23 to 27 February, Todd will be pranking around Cape Town and seeks a large amount of volunteers for an improv mission!
Improv Everywhere was born after Todd pranked some friends in a bar in Manhattan, pretending to be the musician Ben Folds. Since then the pranks have ranged from No Pants Subway Rides where hundreds of people simultaneously remove their pants on the New York subway to a mass of people suddenly freezing in Grand Central, spontaneous musicals that break out in public places, a surprise wedding reception for a random unknown couple, and a black tie beach day where participants spent the day at the beach in evening wear, to the great amusement of fellow beach goers.
Based in New York, Todd and Improv Everywhere’s mission often involves thousands of volunteer “undercover agents”. Through improvisation Todd encourages people to take the time to notice what’s happening around them while also making them laugh, without humiliation or embarrassment.
Todd says the pranks “bring excitement to otherwise unexciting locales and give strangers a story they can tell for the rest of their lives”.
When Todd is not causing scenes of chaos, he:
- Produces, directs, documents and performs in Improv Everywhere’s work.
- Is a teacher and performer of improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.
- Is the author of Causing a Scene, published by Harper Collins in 2009.
- Has hosted 150 million online views of Improv Everywhere’s online videos.
- Considers the current democratisation of media as one of the most exciting things happening in the creative world: “To be seen and loved by millions no longer requires a green light from someone in a corner office.”