Evidence of Body? – The Coroner Prank

During costume preparations for the Epic Superhero Battle, a few of our group saw some Coroner and Crime Scene t-shirts at a local store.  And we said to ourselves, “Selves? If we can’t come up with a prank for this, we aren’t worthy of the name ‘pranksters’.” So we cogitated on the idea for a while until inspiration struck.

In October, we put the finishing touches on the idea and a small group of us headed out to give it a go.  Armed with a weighted and stuffed prop body bag, we donned our Coroner shirts and rode the Phoenix Metro Light Rail into the downtown area.  As we explained it to a few innocent bystanders, our coroner-mobile had broken down and with budgets being tight… public transportation, to the rescue! And while we were out, we thought we’d make a quick stop for coffee. What could be considered unusual about that? We also had two “plain clothes” accomplices along to covertly film.

The reactions were immediate; a few people shifted seats to get a better look or to move further away, others engaged us in conversation, growing ever-more uncomfortable as we described our need to transport our sans-vehicle cargo before the heat caused some issues (for those of you in other parts of the world, yes it is often still hot in AZ at the end of October), most just stared and took out their phones to snap pictures and presumably to text their friends and family.  A couple of guys alternately offered up their thoughts on whether or not we really had brought a body on board the train but when one of our party pulled out a pair of latex gloves — for only genuine County Coroners have access to latex gloves, it seems — that sealed the deal for one of them.  “Oh man, you just gave it away,” he said, “why would you need gloves unless you really had a body in there?” Why, indeed?

Eventually, we reached our intended stop and carried the body bag across the street to the coffee shop, much to the chagrin, amazement and befuddlement of the patrons seated outside.  We had not pre-arranged anything with the shop, but the workers didn’t give us much reaction. Guess they’ve seen their fair share of strangeness at a downtown coffee shop. Go figure. A few phones came out from the other patrons, but only one guy worked up the nerve to ask us if there was really a body in there.  “We can’t discuss the details of an ongoing case,” we replied to him, to which he nodded and said, “I understand.  See… it was my wife that wanted to know”.  Bam, another believer!  We enjoyed our coffee and then got ready to leave, yielding one of the best lines of the day: “No, we did not just spring a leak.”

The ride back to our vehicles was pretty uneventful; very little reaction from the sparsely populated train car. But the ride out was the clincher, as were the stunned “OMGWhatTheHellWasThat?!?” reactions from the patrons in the shop AFTER we left. That’s good enough for us. And we think this one has legs enough to let us do this in a few different venues. Maybe the mall? Will hilarity ensue?

Yeah, it’s in the bag!

Join us for the mp3 Experiment flashmob on Dec 12th

The mp3 and all the final details on where to go and what to do can be found on this post!

Silent Rave

Silent Rave Sept. 27 2009

Silent Rave Sept. 27 2009

The Arizona Diamondbacks had their last home game of the season on Sunday, September 27th, and Improv AZ decided to joyfully celebrate with the fans.  With the weather starting to cool down, it seems liked a good reason to bring the Improv AZ group together.  We decided to throw a Silent Rave.

It was a sunny and sticky Sunday afternoon when I met with our new videographer.  This event was a last-minute idea, so I had not scouted the area in advance.  We scoured the courtyard and found a suitable open area for dancing next to Sliders restaurant.  It was an appropriate area for gleeful gyrations. 

And then we waited.  I saw a few familiar faces with anticipatory smiles from past events amongst the sea of red-shirted Diamondbacks fans. 

At 12:45 our group of approximately fifteen people spontaneously started to dance.  We received a number of bewildered looks from Diamondbacks fans, some who stopped to take pictures.  Apparently the host at Sliders encouraged our tomfoolery over the loudspeaker.  I couldn’t hear him because we were having so much fun.   Although our event was a silent rave, we had the music of Sliders to dance to; however I don’t think it had a negative impact on the absurdity of the event.

At 12:47, the alarm on my phone went off.  I gave the ending signal and we dispersed.  Some of us headed into the game and the rest disappeared into the surrounding crowd.           

There are some good pictures from the event on Flickr.  We were working with a new videographer for this event.  I’m hoping the footage will be up soon.   If you were there and have photos or video from the event, please post them with the tags ImprovAZ and SilentRave.

Epic Super Hero Battle 2009

Several weeks of planning and strategizing culminated in a fantastic event, when the forces of justice and villainy met near Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall on a hot June evening for a battle that was truly epic. In conjunction with another local group, AZ Cacophony Society, the plan was hatched in early May and the call went out to gauge interest in the idea. Since the response was a resounding “Yes, we want in on this!”, we quickly moved on to the strategizing phase while directing our followers to get started on their costumes. The date was chosen and a scouting mission was done to devise a battle plan that would draw public attention while (hopefully) limiting any security intervention.

On the day of the event, the respective groups began to form up when a snag was encountered. Mall security approached the Heroes and stated that several mall policies prohibited the group from entering. Luckily, cool heads prevailed on both sides and with just a few modifications to the plan, the Heroes were allowed to proceed through the mall to meet the Villains on the other side.

As you can imagine, the sight of two large groups of costumed individuals garnered quite a bit of attention as each made their way to the battle site, a large street corner in full view of all passers by. The Heroes arrived first and took the high ground (as Heroes often do), taunting the Villains who were forced to wait for traffic. Once the Villains reached the area, all manner of mayhem broke out with water soaker guns employed to full effect. Most of the participants were very into character, pairing up with each other for mock fisticuffs and other shenanigans. A few of my favorite characters were Musical Theater Girl and her jazz-hands of justice, Dark Elvis with his menacing patch of removable chest hair, Couch Potato with his “hang back and let others fight” stance and The Zombie who wandered through the crowd oozing on his foes.

As the battle wound down the group posed for photographs and then headed off to reminisce on the event at one of the nearby watering holes. Within minutes of the event’s completion, a hilarious video of the battle was uploaded to YouTube:

And here is a shorter compilation of the event, complete with dramatic soundtrack!

There’s also a growing set of amazing pictures on Flickr, and in the Facebook event! Tag yourself and comment away!

Phoenix First Friday Freeze

First Friday FreezeMay Day in Phoenix; and what better way to celebrate the beginning of the long hot summer than a group freeze in the midst of Phoenix’s First Friday festivities.

Sometime after 6:30 p.m. groups of revelers, approximately 40 in total, converged at the intersection of 5th St and E Garfield, mingled in with the crowds of patrons, artists and passerby’s, inconspicuously waiting. At about 6:50 p.m. balloons were released to the sky signaling the group members to hold that pose and hold it and hold it some more.

A few people were frozen checking their cell phones, or reading a map. I froze in the process of being fed a scoop of ice cream, which dribbled into a mess on the ground. One person froze tying his shoe, and another froze in mid marriage proposal. Definitely lots of creativity in the poses and participants!

Soon crowds gathered; some shocked, some confused, some awed, all mostly amused, to witness the event.

In the true pagan spirit of the holiday, members of the AZ Cacophony Society captivated the crowd by decorating the freeze participants with beads, starry sunglasses, makeup and even making an impromptu human May Pole with streamers.

Then, as suddenly as it began and not a moment too soon for those in pose, it was over at the sound of what could be described as an asthmatic air horn. Everyone quickly dispersed to enjoy the rest of their usual First Friday experience.

Several people have posted videos on YouTube, including alacritae, ballergrlHeather, and this one from RelGirl8:

Victorianladyaz1 was one the freezers, and left the video camera on the whole time. Watch this video to check out the curious people walking around and trying to figure out what was going on.

We have one more “official” video coming, and will post that as soon as it is ready.

There are also some nice pictures showing up in Flickr. Be sure to use the tags “improvaz” and “phxfreeze” on Flickr so we can find them.

If you were part of the First Friday Freeze or witnessed it firsthand, post your thoughts in the comments below!  If you want to get involved in future pranks or flashmobs, keep checking this blog or join our Facebook page.

Pillow Fight flashmob in Tempe

Tempe Pillow FightA flashmob hit the Tempe Marketplace to participate in International Pillow Fight Day! About 60 people showed up, and it was a blast.

Rumor was as many as 300 people were thinking about coming, so the original plan was to just spread out all across the mall. Things were supposed to start at 3:00, and a few minutes beforehand you could see people walking around with overly fat shopping bags and a knowing look in their eyes. Realizing there weren’t as many people coming, people began scouting around in quest of other possible pillow fighters.

Right before 3:00, people started to gather in front of Dave & Busters, sizing each other up and identifying their victims. At 3:00… everyone looked at each other, then whipped out their pillows!  It was ON!

People laughed and swung their pillows while baffled shoppers hustled away to make sure they got nowhere near the goofiness. The fight went on for about a minute before mall security showed up and asked everyone to break it up. The fighting stopped, but there was still untapped pillow aggression in the air.

A few minutes later dispersed group started new fights by the mall stage and down by the Harkins’ Theaters.  New people arrived who had missed the first fight and things got larger and crazier. The new fights went on for several minutes before mall security returned in force and told everyone to leave.

Check out the great pictures on Flickr! If you want to add your own, use the tag “azpillowfight” (and “improvaz” if you’re extra-special!)

It was short, but a lot of fun. Hopefully the next one won’t be on private property so it won’t get shut down so fast. It was another good flashmob, and they Valley is on track to growing a great flashmob community!

If you were at the Pillow Fight, post your thoughts in the comments below!  If you want to get involved in future flashmobs, watch this blog or join our Facebook page!

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back balloonsOn March 8th, 21 members of ImprovAZ gathered at Sky Harbor Airport to try and execute the Welcome Back prank that Improv Everywhere did so well. We scouted out the location a few weeks back, and the plan was to loiter near the place where limo drivers picked up clients and wait for someone with a clear name we could use.

We came equipped with balloons, banners, and signs, all partially filled out – waiting for our target’s name! When we scouted out previously, there were plenty of drivers and names to choose from. This night, however, some companies had big events planned so all the drivers were just holding corporate logos – no names! For over an hour we scouted, waited, and began to wonder if this was going to work…

Then just as we were discussing going to a backup plan to find someone, anyone, needing a welcome back, the winds of fate abruptly shifted! A driver stood by himself, a hand written sign in his hand, welcoming back “Debbie Knauss”.

Waiting for Debbie

Waiting for Debbie

The team sprang into colorful markered action, filling in Debbie’s name wherever we could and running back down to the driver. Debbie could be coming any second, and we wanted to be ready. We had a small bit of genuine improvising to do when we reached her driver and pretended to be her dear friends, because we misread her last name as “Knause” and had to hurriedly change our signs.

We made an impressive sight as we waited for 15 minutes or so for Debbie. Passengers and employees looked and smiled, and many laughingly said they wished they were Debbie. Debbie’s driver, Amet, even held one of our signs that read “WE LOVE U DEBBIE!”  We made up replies to where she was coming from when we were asked, and poor Debbie ended up being everything from a returning Army vet to a long lost family member as we waited. A few industrious souls searched for Debbie’s picture online, and thanks to the power of Teh Google, we had an idea what she looked like by the time she arrived.

Everyone stopped to see who we were waiting for

Everyone stopped to see who we were waiting for

When she showed, we whooped and hollered, and Debbie was absolutely stunned. She kept wanting to know if we were really there for her, and every time we assured her, it was only good for about 15 seconds before she wanted to know again. She even had her ID out to show that yes, she was Debbie Knauss, just like our signs (mostly) said.

"But I don't know any of you people!"

"But I don't know any of you people!"

After giving her flowers and balloons, we let her in on the joke. She was still a little perplexed, but had a good laugh and wanted to know what we had in store for her next trip to Phoenix. Even the airport employees got into it at the end, because just as we gave Debbie a big group cheer the greeting “Welcome back, Debbie!” came over the Terminal PA system!

Still a little perplexed, but enjoying the attention

Still a little perplexed, but enjoying the attention

We could not have asked for a better subject than Debbie, who laughed and smiled after getting over the initial shock. She thanked us all, posed for a few pictures, and then went on her way with her driver… still smiling.  We hope she had a wonderful trip to Phoenix.

Huge props to the ImprovAZ agents who showed out in such force and waited patiently while we waited for a suitable subject. Lastly, thanks to the people working at Sky Harbor that night for helping us with our fun.

Be sure to check out more great pictures from the event on Flickr. If you were at the event, please leave your thoughts in the comments below. If you would like to get involved in ImprovAZ activities, you can follow us on Twitter or join us on the Urban Prankster network!

Update: Another video is online with a bit more of Debbie’s reaction.