We Cause Scenes
Director: Matt Adams
Cast: Charlie Todd, Ben Folds, Ken Keech, Anthony King, Chris Kula, Cody Lindquist, Tyler Walker, Bill Wasik
Directed by Matt Adams, We Cause Scenes: The Rise of Improv Everywhere is the story of Improv Everywhere and its founder, Charlie Todd, who has turned the world into a stage, inventing an art form for the Internet age.
Since their humble beginnings in New York City in 2001, Improv Everywhere has grown from a small gang of restless comedians into a global prank collective and a viral video-making sensation.
From the No Pants Subway Ride to Frozen Grand Central to the MP3 Experiment, their publicly staged scenes of chaos and joy are beloved by the hundreds who witness them, the thousands who participate in them, and the millions who watch and share the videos online.
I first became aware of Charlie Todd’s Improv Everywhere through This American Life. Episode 286, “Mind Games” (April 8, 2005), features a segment in which Todd’s group goes to see an unknown band, Ghosts of Pasha, play their first ever tour in New York.
They study the band’s music and then crowd the performance, pretending to be hard-core fans. The aim of Todd’s Improv Everywhere is to make the band happy and give them the best day of their lives – but the band doesn’t see it that way. The intention of Todd’s work has always been to bring a little more magic and joy and good cheer into the world – but unfortunately some of his targets don’t feel the same way.
Adams’ documentary chronicles the rise of Improve Everywhere from the Geocities, Web 1.0 days to the emergence of YouTube, which allowed Todd to take his text-based website and post videos from his ‘missions.’
Todd (an improv teacher at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade) is responsible for creating the ‘flash mob’ but hopes you won’t hold that against him – as Improve Everywhere has always aimed at being a more organized, heartfelt endeavor on an epic scope. He’s orchestrated crazy events like handing out 2,000 invisible dog leashes to New Yorkers for the soul purpose of confounding locals and tourists – that goes far beyond your standard Glee-inspired flash musical number at the mall.
If you’ve taken an interest in Improv Everywhere’s activities over the years, or participated in a No Pants Subway Ride in your local city, you’ll be delighted by Adam’s documentary – a hilarious exploration of comedy, art, and the area in between.
If you’re unfamiliar with Todd’s work, We Cause Scenes will no doubt inspire you to get involved and take part in the group’s ongoing pranks and staged shenanigans. After seeing classic missions like Star Wars Subway Car and Who You Gonna Call?, you’ll be charmed and filled with joy – wishing life was as spontaneous and filled with wonder as Improve Everywhere makes it seem.
We Cause Scenes – SXSW 2013 Accepted Film from SXSW on Vimeo.
Follow Me on Twitter!