The New York-based troupe Improv Everywhere, founded in 2001 by comedian Charlie Todd, is known for causing "scenes of chaos and joy in public places."
Their latest mission made me smile. (Thanks to Pop Candy for the link.) It's a musical that takes place in the food court of a Los Angeles shopping mall. The shoppers look bewildered as people around them, including a young woman behind the counter of a fast food place and a guy sweeping the floor, suddenly burst into song. But hey, isn't that what happens all the time in musicals?
Here's how Improv Everywhere describes what was behind the idea: "We’ve had tons of ideas emailed to us over the years. Out of all of them, one stands out as the absolute most suggested: “You know how it’s weird in musicals that people just break out into song for no reason? You guys should stage a musical like that in a public place.” We’ve probably gotten over 100 emails just like that. Well, we finally decided it was time to make it happen.''
And these aren't just seat-of-the-pants type operations. The participants rehearse, they learn choreography. To come up with an original song, they turned to Scott Brown and Anthony King, writers of the off-Broadway show Gutenberg! The Musical!, who composed "Can I get a napkin (please)."
The folks at Improv Everywhere are very James Bond-like about their operations. Their Web site says they've executed more than 70 missions with thousands of undercover agents. I'm not sure whether they should be encouraged or are simply annoying, but the performers are funny, and so is the reaction of the audience.