Improv is certainly a special kind of acting. The actors have to be ready for anything. While there may be lines they rehearse, the lines can change and should seem spontaneous. The actors need to feed off of each other and the circumstances that may change around them.
One comedy group based in New York City is called Improv Everywhere. This group “aims to surprise and delight random strangers through positive pranks.” They have staged 150 pranks in the past 15 years.
All of these pranks involve actors doing improv, but the catch is that the audience doesn’t know these are actors. The skits are performed in public spaces, and many of the pranks are pretty elaborate, even when they are performed for just a few random people.
In one particularly funny prank, four sets of twins convinced a subway car full of people that time travel really was possible.
In order to prepare for this skit, Improv Everywhere enlisted the help of four sets of twins. Many but not all of the twins had acted before. None of the twins had experience acting on a subway car in front of random strangers.
The twins practiced the skit beforehand, and they coordinated where they would sit on the subway and at which stop they would enter the subway car. They ended up performing this skit four times for different subway passengers. Thankfully, they filmed one of these performances so that we could all experience the fun too.
The skit starts when a man enters the subway panhandling. He says that he needs money to build a time machine. He explains that he’s tried Kickstarter and Go Fund Me but that he hasn’t been able to raise the money he needs. He says that he has the technology to build a time machine if he could just raise the money and that anything helps.
One man gives him money. This man is not in on the skit and actually gets off the subway at the next stop, so he didn’t even know he was part of a prank.
The other actors who are in on the prank do a great job of playing along and pretending they don’t know the panhandler. As the skit plays out, the passengers seem to go from thinking the panhandler is crazy to thinking something silly is going on to wondering if time travel really is real.
Watch the video to see what happens when the first twin enters the subway car.
Do you think this prank would have fooled you if you had been on the subway? Do you believe time travel is possible?