Flash Mobbing a Little Heart Into the Apple Store

Photography by Devon Christopher Adams (@nooccar)

We’ve long been fans of Improv Everywhere’s Best Buy flash mob, but never had a good chance to do our own version. Clearly Best Buy had no sense of humor about the topic, and we figured most companies like them would be about the same.

After Steve Jobs passed away, this idea seemed like a great way to pay a little tribute to someone who had an enormous impact on our lives, and maybe have some fun in the process. We contacted a Phoenix t-shirt shop and had them create special custom shirts for us – royal blue with a heart shaped logo on the front. Oh, and the heart had a piece missing out of it. And a leaf. Look familiar?

This past Saturday about 25 Improv AZ cohorts donned those shirts in a flash mob at the Apple Store in the Scottsdale Quarter. The plan wasn’t to disrupt their business in any way, but just to have fun and make people laugh. We figured with 25 of us we would outnumber the employees, and maybe even the customers.

As we trickled into the store, the surprise was on us – the place was packed! We had never seen an Apple Store that busy, maybe because of the new iPhone launch, and the employees noticed us right away. They started chatting away into their earpieces, and a few security people started paying us extra attention. We just browsed and wandered around, so the employees must have decided we were mostly harmless. They kept an eye on us but didn’t ask us to leave.

Photography by Devon Christopher Adams (@nooccar)

So we had fun! We put pictures of ourselves on many of the computer’s PhotoBooth screens, but employees came right behind us and removed them. Most of us were very familiar with Apple products but referred customers to real employees whenever asked. However, one lady refused to be sent away. She was quite happy with the help she received and admonished an Apple employee that the prankster should not get in trouble for being such a nice young man! We shopped for merchandise, made our phones all Quack, and chatted with everyone we could.

Some customers were confused, and one remarked “Wow, Apple sure does have a lot of employees!” but most laughed when they realized what was going on. Most employees took it in good fun  once they realized we weren’t there to cause trouble. We heard “flash mobs” being used as an example in a Genius Bar training session, and a few employees asked where they could get a shirt like ours.

We left after about half an hour, took a group picture out front, and waved a cheery farewell to everyone in the store before heading off for coffee. We immediately began musing where else we might be able to unleash our small, blue-shirted army… hmmm…

Check out the Pictures

We had two photographers help capture the flash mob, and both helped shoot our shenanigans before. This one was trickier because we were trying to be covert so they couldn’t use their normal camera gear. They each wrote blogs about the experience and trying to take good pictures with a small camera, so if you plan to try something like this yourself see what the very talented Sheila Dee and Devon Christopher Adams had to say.

Check out all of their pictures (and a few others) from the flash mob in the Apple Store Flash Mob series on Flickr.

Want A Shirt?

We’ve had a lot of requests for other people who wanted a shirt, so you can order an Apple Heart Shirt from Brand X. We don’t make any money off these – they’re just a fun thing to wear so we wanted to pass it along.

Want to Join Us?

Want to be a part of a future flash mob with us? Join our email list! We don’t always announce them on our blog and Facebook, so our email list is the best way to stay connected.

Keep Laughing!

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Recap of Fake Protest Part Deux – Down With Sequels!

(cc) sheiladeeisme on Flickr

About 30 people came out for Improv AZ’s Fake Protest #2 – Down With Sequels! We gathered at the intersection of 20th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix and lined the street where cars waiting for the light to change could see us. Everyone made their own signs that protested nothing.

These were some of the more memorable signs:

  • Honk If You <3 Badonkadonk
  • Ask Me About My Vow of Silence
  • Down With Elevators
  • I Had Friends On The Death Star
  • I Just Spent 9 Months On The Inside (this sign was held with a baby)

We also yelled various nonsensical things at passing cars, like, “I like glitter,” “My arms are sore,” and “I’m a pedestrian.”

The responses are the most entertaining part of these things, and we had every kind you could imagine. Some people tried to ignore us. Many people smiled and honked their horns, while other people tried hard to ignore us. A fire truck stopped at the light held asked what we were protesting, then gave us a monstrous honk when they found it was for fun.

A few passersby who struggled to wrap their brains around the fact that dozens of people would spend their Saturday morning standing on a street corner with funny signs. Nearby mall security and the Phoenix Police made a few passes and checked us out, but let us carry on.

One of the best reactions came as we were wrapping things up and taking our final group picture. A woman came up and thanked us because she was having a really bad day until our display of absurdity made her smile. She turned her car around and stopped just to let us know. Perfect!

Lots of photos of the fake protest are on Flickr, thanks to talented  Phoenix photographer, Sheila Dee. If you have your own pictures on Flickr, use the tags “improvaz” and “fake protest” so they show up in our search. You can also tag yourself in our Fake Protest Facebook photo album.

Thanks to everyone who came out – another flash mob should be announced soon!

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Where’s Waldo Was Wonderful, Wacky, Weirdness

photo (cc) Sheila Dee

The crew at Improv AZ decided to relive their childhoods and create a living version of Where’s Waldo at Tempe Marketplace. Nearly 100 people donned red and white striped apparel and gathered outside Dave and Busters on Saturday, April 23, 2011. Like the pictures in the Where’s Waldo books, we had one true Waldo in the official Waldo costume, and dozens of red and white lookalikes.

The group began to assemble just before 1pm. Security was concerned by the abundance of red and white striped shirts and it took some reassurance from the organizers that it was a short, innocuous prank in order for us to proceed. For about 20 minutes, the group chatted and mingled while stunned shoppers looked on. Many of the onlookers instantly got the joke, while others took some prompting. A few of our cohorts moved through the crowd of onlookers with a flyer showing a picture of our “real” Waldo and asking the strangers if they’d seen our friend. Anyone who didn’t understand what was going on before instantly smiled, giggled, and got the prank.

We had all kinds of Waldos – Dog Waldo, Gnome Waldo, Steampunk Waldo, Jester Waldo, Musician Waldos, Baby Waldo, and more! In preparation for this event, many participants flocked to stores in search of red and white striped shirts. One participant said that the clerk at their thrift store remarked that asignificant number of people had come to the store that week on a similar quest. Others opted to make their own shirts by applying red tape to white shirts or vice versa.

You can check out Flickr to see all the great Where’s Waldo flash mob pictures!

Big thanks to everyone who came out, to Sheila Dee Photography for capturing some of the great pictures, and to David and the crew at FlashMobAZ for helping us spread the word!

At the end of the prank, we took some group photos and dispersed. Many ventured in to Dave and Busters for a drink or a bite. The wait staff was completely oblivious to what had just transpired outsideand looked bewildered at all the red and white shirts in the dining room. When we explained what occurred, they couldn’t help but laugh.

After all, who doesn’t love Waldo?

Recap of the non-issues at the Fake Protest Flash Mob

About 60 boisterous passionate people, armed with homemade signs, bundled up on a cold cloudy day along a busy intersection to protest… nothing!

The group lined both sides of the intersection at 20th Street and Camelback, holding signs with sayings like:

  • Fines for Flatulence
  • Honk If You’re Horny
  • Private Protest – Please Look Away
  • I Want More Tortillas with my Fajitas
  • Cap’n Crunch Hurts My Mouth

The group held their signs and chanted (each person chanting something different) for about 30 minutes. Some people laughed, honked, and waved while other drivers averted their eyes, trying to be oblivious to the commotion. It’s amazing the lengths some people will go to not to smile.

Toward the end of the protest, a police car drove by and asked what was going on. When she was told that the protest was just for fun, and no actual cause was being protested, she said, “That’s awesome.”  Check out the event video:

There are also some pictures in the Fake Protest Facebook album you should check out.

After the fake protest, the group gathered for some final pictures and dispersed, already contemplating what sign they wanted to make for the next protest. There are just so many non-existant causes, and so little time.

NoPantsAZ 2010: Legtastic Videos Online

No Pants Group Photo

Image by Moriartys via Flickr

Just letting you know that the videos from the NoPantsAZ Ride are now on our YouTube Channel.  There is a longer version (below) and a short version if you’re the impatient sort.  Sorry for the delay in getting them online, but we had some problems with the footage and it took a while to sort out.


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No Pants AZ 2010 Recap: No Trou For You!

NoPantsAZ - 2010
Image by Art Rodriguez via Flickr

Over 300 people participated in the No Pants 2010 Ride in Phoenix, inciting confusion, shock, and joy in the local community.

On Sunday, January 10, 2010, Phoenix was abuzz with Cardinals Football fever as people gathered at light rail stations at the east and west ends of the light rail line.  The event leaders, identified by the red scarves tied to their bags inconspicuously navigated the nervous crowds, answering questions and reviewing the action plan.

At 2pm, participants began filling the light rail trains.  We had so many participants in the east valley that they had to be divided into two trains.  Even with the group split up across three trains, there was standing room only in the cars.

As the trains began to move, the pants came off.  Non-participants reacted first with looks of confusion, which turned into shock often followed by laughter.  One onlooker was inspired by the newly pantsless people around him that he removed his jeans as well!  At each stop, new people entered the trains and asked us, “Where are your pants?” An older gentleman said he enjoyed the view as he chatted with three cute pantsless women on his way to The Spaghetti Factory.

Each pantsless group poured out of the trains in central Phoenix and walked to the Starbucks at Arizona Center.  As we walked down the street we were greeted by perplexed looks, car honks, and a few people pulling out their cameras to snap a few shots to show the folks back home.

At Starbucks, more people were motivated by our fun and removed their pants. We were there for nearly an hour, talking, laughing, and taking pictures when a security guard approached us and said that we had to put our pants back on.  (Note: the Starbucks was next to Hooters where the waitresses were wearing even less than us!)  Refusing to comply, we left, either heading back from whence we came, or taking our merriment to the after party at Dave’s Electric Brewpub.  Thanks @RailLife for setting it up!

Image by Nick Bastian

As we rode towards the pub, a Metro security guard entered the packed car to check for tickets.  He was greeted by chants of “Pants Off!”  He laughed and said he felt overdressed.

One onlooker turned to Tim, one of our intrepid pantsless leaders, and asked why none of us were wearing pants.  Tim responded, “You know, I hadn’t really noticed.”  The onlooker immediately pointed to two pantsless ladies – one with undies that said, “Prude” and other’s said, “Geek” – and said, “You’re telling me you didn’t notice this?”  Tim could only smile and shrug.

While we were relaxing at the pub, a Tempe Police car pulled up and asked if we were the No Pants group.  The officer said, “That’s awesome.  We had a briefing about you.”  We’re not sure if his pun was intentional, but it was beautiful. We asked the local media to not ruin the fun, but some ignored us and spilled the beans. Others were more circumspect and we ended up with a few good mentions around town.

The No Pants Light Rail Ride was a huge success. Thanks to everyone who joined us, especially the 40 veterans from last year’s ride.  Thanks to nooccar, Nick Bastian, Art Rodriguez, and others we have a lot of great pictures in Flickr. If you add your own please tag them with ‘nopantsaz’ and ‘improvAZ’.  We will add pictures to our Facebook group as we can, and you’re welcome to post yours to the event!  We hope to post the video on YouTube shortly.

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Recap: 2009 Arizona No Pants Ride

The following is a recap of the 2009 No Pants Ride that happened nearly a year ago.  It was the event that got ImprovAZ started, so I didn’t have a place to post it at the time. It’s been a fun year since this happened, and if you’re interested in the No Pants Ride coming up January 2010, join our mailing list or watch this blog!

No Pants AZ
Image by ousooner44 via Flickr

I used to do improv with the Oxymoron’Z and Jester’Z troupes here in Phoenix, so have long wanted something like Improv Everywhere to get rolling locally. I know, I know… Improv Everywhere isn’t really improv, but they’re cousins enough that I longed, nay, yearned.

So last January I decided to help give it a push and organize an Arizona version of the No Pants Ride as part of the Improv Everywhere global No Pants Ride. It seemed like a great way to break in the Valley’s new fangled Light Rail. Shorthanded as “nopantsaz” on Twitter and Flickr, the ride was an almost unqualified success.


I had no idea what to expect up front, or if there would be a mass chickening out at the last minute. I secured about 10 stalwart companions to ensure I wasn’t alone, but in spite of 100+ RSVP’s on the Facebook group I figured we may top out at 30 people total. Wanted to keep it super simple since this was our first event and the Light Rail system isn’t that complex. Two starting points, one finish point, coffee, then return. Piece of cake!

Biggest worry was that Light Rail or security would shut us down. I’d checked with the police that wearing your underwear in public was legal, so it came down to whether there would be a disruption that they thought would interfere with the line operating.


The plan was to catch the first train past 3:00 at the Apache and Dorsey station in Tempe. Trains run about every 15 minutes, and one left around 2:50, so I expected one around 3:05.  Nothing. I got paranoid at one point they halted the train to get security out there. By 3:00 there were easily 90 people on the platform. I walked up and down the line a few times trying to spread people out and giving instructions. It’s a tad awkward to ask “Are you here to take off your pants” to strangers, in case you’ve never done it.

It was worse because of a local cameraman who clearly had never heard of “subtle” or “covert”. I asked the media I spoke with to meet us at the end so as not to blow our coverage, but this guy had a full shoulder camera and kept it right in my face. He asked me things like if it was illegal, which had me uttering the truly brilliant line that we weren’t “breaking the law. We were just… fluffing the law. Frosting the law.” Right. Moving on.

Ride Out

The trains were PACKED! Figuring another wasn’t coming for 15 minutes, we found space and as soon as the train began moving, dropped and hid our pants. Not easy in a full, moving train, but I think there were a lot of contortionists present. Reactions varied from shock to amusement to horror. An older woman seated next to me grumbled to anyone who would listen how terrible it was that we were being obscene in front of children, even though it was just a bunch of bare legs. You’ll see a lot more skin on the Rail in August in the Valley, that’s for sure.

After a while people began cheering when non-participants joined or left the cars, and the people riding for a while started to relax into the joke. I loved the look when people got on, pressed together with the crowd, then glanced down and realized there were a lot fewer pants than people.

We rode to the Campbell and Central station for a much needed break.

Coffee Pit Stop

The media was waiting in force at Lux coffee shop when we arrived. All attempts at being nonchalant about the affair were long gone. We strode with pride over to Lux, and the shop ambiance took a sharp dive off a cliff as the Pantsless Army queued up for beverages. “Puzzled” doesn’t quite cover the looks the patrons were shooting us.

At this point one group went to George & Dragon Pub, still pantsless, to knock back a pint. Others reboarded the train for the ride back.

Ride Back

It was less eventful overall, but had some better reactions because the train was more open. People were crowding near the doors to avoid mingling with the pantsless. One gal actually ran off the train after she asked me a question about which stop she should use, then realized the situation. She decided the current stop was just peachy keen by her without another word. Pulled back in around 5:30, for a 2 1/2 hour event.


The event was a blast, and I met some great people. There is a pile of excellent pictures and a great video (bel0w).

Also major thanks to Heather, TJ, Tyson, Clintus, David, Evo, Brian, Jill, RailLife, Lux, and everyone else who chipped in and spread the word. It was a community effort.

The media’s involvement was a mixed blessing. I think it helped show that this was intended to be fun and nothing bad came of it, but totally destroyed the covert nature of it. I got some tips from the national IE group about this, so will apply it a bit different next time.

We now have this blog, and an ImprovAZ Facebook Page that we’ve been using to organize new events. Personally, I think Phoenix needs more events like this. Shake things up, give people something to talk about, just have fun. Too many people in this town just ask Why, and I think more need to be asking Why Not?

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mp3 Experiment was a rocking success!

mp3 Experiment - ImprovAZ - Look Over There
Image by sheiladeeisme via Flickr

Our first mp3 Experiment was a rocking success with at least 100 people showing up to participate!  The starting point was the giant Christmas tree in front of the MadCap theaters on Mill, and everything looked fairly quiet until even just 5 minutes before the start, then suddenly waves of people with headphones on started pouring into the area!  We were worried about people starting at different times, so used big cue cards to get everyone (hopefully) going in synch.

Marching and mayhem

Divided into Red and Blue teams by birthday (though the Blue team was a bit larger), the groups separated and started marching (really, marching) up Mill Ave.  Their first stop was to engage in some imaginary warfare! The Blue team began taunting the Red team across the street, who in turn drew an imaginary bow and arrow and fired at the Blues. Blues fell to the sidewalk in dramatic piles and the Reds celebrated their victory!  Drivers stopped in traffic craned around trying to figure out what was going on, and this is where pedestrians really started to realize something odd was afoot.

We skipped merrily along to the next intersection, where the Red Team circled around like airplanes and the Blue Team spread peace and love. A few pedestrians were hoping anxiously for the light to change to get away from the weirdness.  This was not their lucky day, because when the light changed the teams all crossed and high-fived each other along the way. Some bystanders scurried to get out of the way while others just played along and started high-fiving.

After the high-fives, two covert agents handed out little bottles of bubbles. As the procession continued north bubbles filled the air and patrons inside the stores started peering out. The Blue Team then contended with imaginary ringing cell-phones, and the Red Team turned into tourists with imaginary cameras. A passerby called the Blue Team “A bunch of liars!” for talking into their imaginary phones, while a few people posed and flashed smiles for the Red Team’s photographic attempts.

Confusion, Coffee, and Disco

At the next intersection… What is THAT!?! Both teams pointed over the top of a building, gasping in disbelief at the imaginary thing on the roof!  Several people on all four corners of the intersection craned to see what was going on, especially when “it” apparently leaped across the street to a different building. Whatever “it” was, it got a lot of attention! Here we noticed that we had an entourage – some pedestrians had started following us to see what we would do next.

In front of Starbucks all 100 people lined up to go in… but didn’t order. We nodded to patrons, briefly regarded the menu, decided against ordering anything, and exited out a side door. We began performing YMCA as we continued up Mill, which was a strange sight to everyone outside the prank who couldn’t hear the music. One of the servers inside a restaurant we passed clearly recognized our sweet moves as he started dancing along in his window with a huge grin on his face.

Grand Finale

We then paused in front of an adult store where the men turned their eyes away in disgust while the women peered in the window with enthusiasm.  Everyone fought a round of itchy-butt syndrome as they moved to the finale where everyone was feeling strong now as we did a slo-mo, low-budget reenactment of the victory run from Rocky! It was only then we realized how many people we picked up along the way as the little amphitheater was packed. We had hoped for 40 people to show up, and our final headcount was around 100.

This was by far the most planning we’ve put into an event, and it it was a blast! We learned quite a few things, including whether anyone would even show up!  That answer was a definite Yes!  We also learned how people react to instructions, where we need more (and less) time, and the complications of things like timing streetlights.

Got pictures or video clips? Upload them here or let us know where to find them!

Event pictures on Flickr (tag with mp3az and improvaz).
Event album on Facebook.

Some of the video came out a little jagged, but you can watch the high points in all their crazy glory below:

We will do more of these in the future, so stay tuned to our Facebook page or mailing list for all the latest news!

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