"CAUSING A SCENE: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere" by Charlie Todd, Alex Scordelis, William Morrow, 272 pages, $19.99
On Jan. 10, a group of people rode TRAX through downtown Salt Lake City sans pants, acting as if the lack of clothing in the middle of winter was totally normal. The group's mission: to "cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places."
This well-organized but seemingly random act was part of the Improv Everywhere No Pants 2009 event. Based on a 2001 prank that took place in the New York subway, the event has become a viral hit around the world.
Beyond the No Pants events, Improv Everywhere has executed inventive and cultish pranks that both boggle the mind and tickle the funny bone.
In "Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere" the group's founder, Charlie Todd, and one of his agents, Alex Scordelis, share the stories behind some of the group's memorable missions.
Some of the brilliant pranks included a fake U2 rooftop concert that garnered coverage by the New York Times, Rolling Stone and VH1; a five-minute time loop, where six agents repeated the same actions 12 times consecutively at a Manhattan Starbucks; hosting a reading and book signing by the celebrated Russian author Anton Chekhov — who is dead; and "freezing" time for five minutes on the main concourse at Grand Central Station.
"Causing a Scene" breaks each prank down with a brief outline of each mission, the plan, the actual event and the aftermath. Tips from agents also follow each chapter.
After watching Improv's pranks on YouTube, you can't help but think people take themselves too seriously. If anything, "Causing a Scene" helps to further illustrate that sentiment. By stepping out of the box and a person's comfort zone, the group proves that there is in fact something to laugh about.
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