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July 8, 2008 5:39 PM   Subscribe

Improv Everywhere’s latest “mission”: Human Mirror [video]. They filled a New York subway car with 16 sets of identical twins and recorded the reactions of riders who eventually realized they were looking at an MTA carriage full of real-life “mirror images.”

“‘We would get on the 6 train at the start of the line at Brooklyn Bridge and the twins would sit on either side of the car, directly across from their sibling,’ writes organizer Charlie Todd on the Improv Everywhere blog. ‘Once in place, their job would be to mirror each other as closely as possible. If one scratches his head, so should the other. If anyone asked them what was going on, they should claim not to notice anything unusual and not to even be able to see their sibling.’”*

Improv Everywhere previously on MeFi.
posted by ericb (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
8 ʎlnɾ uo ɯd 95:L ʇɐ ıɯoɐɥɹ ʎq pǝʇsod
posted by Rhaomi at 5:56 PM on July 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


Cute. Although maybe they should change their name to Improve On The Subway And A Couple Other Stereotypical New York Locations.
posted by DU at 5:57 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


The upside-down favorite and flagging buttons were apparently out staging an impromptu Riverdance number in Rockefeller Plaza. I told those guys to RSVP, but nooo.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:01 PM on July 8, 2008


Indeed. Stereotypical New York locations like a rooftop, a Best Buy, a bookstore, a Starbucks, a bar, Abercrombie & Fitch, a food court in Los Angeles, and a little league game at Hermosa Beach, CA.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:02 PM on July 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


Pretty cool. reminds me of this pretty cool prank on german tv.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 6:19 PM on July 8, 2008 [9 favorites]


i like the concept but the riders' reactions were srsly underwhelming. i wonder if the participants felt that way as well. 'oh, look, we got dressed up and rode the subway all day so 10 or 11 people could smile in recognition of something unusual going on. how fulfilling!"
posted by Hat Maui at 6:24 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Indeed. Stereotypical New York locations like a rooftop, ...

Look, we've already have the debate about using the word "improv". So now it's time to discuss the "everywhere".

Next post, we'll have an angry debate about why they should be called "Improv-Everywhere" instead of having the space. Expect many feelings to be hurt and friendships torn asunder.
posted by Gary at 6:24 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


This one made me a very little bit uncomfortable because it's basically highlighting the freakishness of identical twins. They basically gave the subway passengers permission to stare at the twins because OMG WTF they look just like each other, which you can't do under normal circumstances without being rude.
posted by prefpara at 6:31 PM on July 8, 2008


Having just today finally read the Joshua Bell piece, the reactions in this I.E. bit looked pretty satisfying to me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:33 PM on July 8, 2008


They basically gave the subway passengers permission to stare at the twins because OMG WTF they look just like each other, which you can't do under normal circumstances without being rude.

"They" being the twins taking part in the prank.

OMG! Rudeness on the 6 train! What is the subway coming to?
posted by oneirodynia at 6:47 PM on July 8, 2008


Stop this madness.
Please.
posted by Dizzy at 6:55 PM on July 8, 2008


I hate to be the one to say this but as awesome as they are, isn't Improv Everywhere getting to be a little like the onion? As in, most of what they do merits a post to the blue, if only the rest of the site wasn't already there.

I love them and wish I could be them
posted by milestogo at 6:56 PM on July 8, 2008


As a veteran of some amatuer improvisational comedy, I just don't get what is improvisational about IE's elaborately planned stunts. As an identical twin, you couldn't pay me (us) to do this.
posted by longsleeves at 7:03 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


No, don't tell me - your identical twin is shortsleeves, right?
posted by yhbc at 7:14 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


...maybe they should change their name to Improve On The Subway...

Why? Are they trying to improve on the subway? Perhaps you're confusing them with these folks.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:19 PM on July 8, 2008


No, don't tell me - your identical twin is shortsleeves, right? *slaps thigh*
posted by longsleeves at 7:33 PM on July 8, 2008


Can they PLEASE take their Idiocy Everywhere act to a city who GIVES A FUCK?
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:11 PM on July 8, 2008


This is one of the less interesting improv everywhere. You see it and it you recognize it and you acknowledge it. What's going in is obvious, since it is a lot of twins all at once. Oh a bunch of twins pulling a stunt. There is no real confusion or ambiguity to what is going on. Making it even weaker is the fact that there are events where twins dress alike and attend. It would be like if lots of people dressed as wizards were on the train. I mean it is strange but a reasonable explanation is easy enough to get to.

These kind of things work best when there is a feeling of "wait a minute what is going on?" and there is no easy answer. It is better if the feeling builds gradually too. A good litmus test is how memorable it would be if it happened to you. If you were in a band and you had a huge amount of fake fans one night you would remember that for your whole life. If you were at a book store and there was a reading by an author you had heard of and it turned out to be a trick and the author had been long dead you would remember that for a couple years. Or you could have noticed that there were a lot of twins on the subway one day.
posted by I Foody at 8:22 PM on July 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


They bring colour to mundanity. I liked it. Thanks ericb.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:37 PM on July 8, 2008


Unfortunately, I've already awarded my prize for staged stunt of the day.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:00 PM on July 8, 2008


*slaps thigh*

Your own or your identical twin's?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:37 PM on July 8, 2008


Lame.
posted by autodidact at 9:55 PM on July 8, 2008


Given a palette of 16 identical twins to work with, I do think this is not the most interesting thing you could do with them. You want some distance and a sense of deja vu. Like if you were shopping in a big department store and went from floor 1 to floor 4 and everyone was identical in appearance, even if doing different jobs. I wonder if you'd even catch on.
posted by maxwelton at 10:11 PM on July 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


improveverywhere.metafilter.com
posted by loiseau at 10:31 PM on July 8, 2008


Meh. (Dillon's german prank, on the other hand, was perfect.)
posted by progosk at 10:33 PM on July 8, 2008


Whoa, Dillonlikescookies, +1000.

That's a brilliant prank.
posted by ManInSuit at 10:50 PM on July 8, 2008


If this is an attempt to outdo their "Pants" stunts of the past on the subway, it was a step backward instead of a step forward. It looks good on camera perhaps, but the reactions among the uninitiated were bland. Admittedly, IE suffers from its own past success coupled with the fact that the more people who know about them and what they do, the harder it is to impress. Then on top of THAT, they can't do anything too outlandish, because this is a public setting and you don't wanna have everyone from the police to the courts baring down on your neck every time you wanna play a harmless prank.

I fear the more successful IE gets, and the more it tries to find a way to market itself commercially as a show or whatever, the less interesting it's gonna be. It's like when Allen Funt used to do Candid Camera, he started by being the huckster in the bit himself. Then when his face became a national treasure, he couldn't do it anymore. He'd try to use disguises occasionally, but he ended up early on having other people set it up and all he could do was introduce the bits. Jamie Kennedy suffered a similar fate, even though he was admittedly much better at the disguises thing.

I like IE. I'm glad it's out there. The guys behind it need to remind themselves what the "Improv" part means. Scheduling a bunch of twins to ride a subway at the same time is not improvisational.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:03 AM on July 9, 2008


I hereby propose that Metafilter change its name to Wet Blankets Inc.

Really, you're shitting on free pancakes. Lighten up.
posted by fungible at 5:45 AM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


And for my next trick, I'm going to fill a restaurant entirely with John Malkoviches.
posted by Spatch at 6:50 AM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


You want to impress the average straphanger, get your "improv" asses off the train and give those seats to people who are actually trying to get somewhere.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:50 AM on July 9, 2008


It's like when Allen Funt used to do Candid Camera, he started by being the huckster in the bit himself. Then when his face became a national treasure, he couldn't do it anymore. He'd try to use disguises occasionally, but he ended up early on having other people set it up and all he could do was introduce the bits.

Well that's what he gets for trying to rip off Ashton and Punk'd.

Kidding!
posted by inigo2 at 7:12 AM on July 9, 2008


Just once I'd like to see someone realize what is going on, know that they are being filmed, decide to turn it around and do a little improv theater of their own. Basically turning the stunt around on the actors.

If it were me, I'd try completely freaking out:

"Sweet Jesus! There are two of everybody, and they aren't in perfect sync. Fuck! I wish I hadn't taken all that acid when I was a kid because I'm regretting it now. Holy shit, that one is blinking and the reflecting one isn't. I bet I'm having a psychotic episode here. I guess this is where I become the Angle of Death and climb that bell-tower..."

or in Dillonlikescookies's prank:

"God damn it, now I'm a fucking vampire? Perfect! Just fucking perfect."
posted by quin at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yes, the Angle of Death. He's way scarier than the Angel. 90° scarier.
posted by quin at 9:21 AM on July 9, 2008


Just once I'd like to see someone realize what is going on, know that they are being filmed, decide to turn it around and do a little improv theater of their own. Basically turning the stunt around on the actors.

This makes me imagine an incident where two different improv everywhere style groups accidentally get their pranks intertwined. Like one improv group starts a made up band and puts on a show. The other improv group doesn't know the band is fake and shows up to pretend they're giant fans of the band.

One improv group replaces a little league baseball team with a bunch of top prospects from the minor leagues. Meanwhile, the other improv group shows up to treat the game like a major league affair while the 20-year-olds beat the youth 110-2.

These sort of fiascos don't end until the Great Improv Wars of 2012.
posted by drezdn at 11:25 AM on July 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


drezdn: Meanwhile, the other improv group shows up to treat the game like a major league affair while the 20-year-olds beat the youth 110-2.
Wait, why on earth would top major league prospects even give up two runs to little leaguers? I mean, seriously! Throwing 95mph from 45 feet away... how would a 13-year-old even hit that?!

The two improv groups meeting is funny (although it reminds me of the two gangs trying to rob the same bank in Woody Allen's "Take the Money And Run"), but it would be even better if a third improv group arranged for that to happen!
posted by hincandenza at 3:08 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wait, why on earth would top major league prospects even give up two runs to little leaguers? I mean, seriously! Throwing 95mph from 45 feet away... how would a 13-year-old even hit that?!

Wild pitches because they forgot to bring a catcher who wasn't 13.

third improv group arranged for that to happen!

That would be awesome, especially if the first two groups don't know that there's a third improv group pulling the strings.
posted by drezdn at 5:08 PM on July 9, 2008


...there's a third improv group pulling the strings.

Let us not speak of the third improv group. There is no third improv group.

That is, besides the one that was responsible for World Trade #7.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:11 PM on July 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


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