Last weekend involved a totally unique experience; a friend & colleague of mine –John – recommended I check out the Improv Everywhere site and get involved in one of their upcoming ‘missions’ – challenge accepted!
The Improv Everywhere team are “a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.” Checking the events, The MP3 Experiment was scheduled for Saturday 16th July so I signed up to the ‘Agents’ mailing list and 24-hours before the event I received the instructions. Here is how the MP3 Experiment works:
“we put an original mp3 file online (usually around 45 minutes long) that people download and transfer to their mobile devices. Participants then synchronize their watches to an atomic clock on our website, head out to the same public location, and blend in with others. At the predetermined time, everyone presses play. Hilarity ensues as participants carry out ridiculous, coordinated instructions delivered to their headphones via narrator “Steve” and everyone else tries to figure out what the hell is going on.”
Within the instructions I had to get the following items and bring them with me to the location which was specified as Downtown Manhattan in Battery Park:
Depending on the month of your birthday depended on the exact location (North or South) and whether you wore a black or a white shirt. On arrival there was a good crowd all waiting for 8:30pm which was when we could press play on our MP3 players and begin the experiment:
After hitting play at 8:30pm we were informed that we were part of the South Tribe and we would be ultimately meeting our neighbours – the North tribe – in due course however we had to learn a few things before meeting them. We were instructed to find a random person to practice the ‘official handshake & greeting’ so when we met the North Tribe we could introduce ourselves accordingly. So here we are in the middle of Battery Park doing this crazy performance that involved crossing your legs while moving up & down with arms out shaking my fellow tribesman’s hands. After this we had to make our way up to meet the North tribe, en route we were instructed to High Five any members of the public, they had no idea what was going on.
Once we arrived to the neutral zone we had to do a number of tasks which involved walking like a rabbit, pretending to be in fast forward, walking like a spaceman and ultimately doing a tribal dance. I felt sorry for all the people who were having a nice summers evening picnic interrupted when we arrived and duly took over the whole park.
After this had finished the North Tribe arrived (in their white shirts) and we did the greeting we’d practiced earlier and then tasks were given to include our props, subsequently kicking off a rave with glow sticks, running around playing flash tag, shining our torches in tandem at buildings & in the sky, limbowing to torch beams, creating shadow puppets and lots more. People were hurling glow sticks in the air and really going for it, it was a sight to be seen!
The whole experiment lasted for about an hour and after all this finished everyone dispersed. We went for a few beers afterwards and it was highly amusing to associate all the people in black & white shirts that had just taken part in the event.
There will be an official video created that I will post on my blog when complete but here is a picture one of the agents took at the top of one of the surrounding buildings – one word: CRAZY!