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?

Hello, Lionel – Spreading some 80’s style love

We can’t claim to have come up with this idea, but we loved it so much we just had to share it. After a quick wrestling match with our favorite word processor, we created our own version of the flier, which you see below.

Lionel Richie says Hello

I showed it around and the reactions were pretty evenly split. If the person didn’t know who Lionel Richie was, this was about the dumbest thing they’ve ever seen. If they knew, they loved it… then got pissed because this damned song was stuck in their head all day.

Lionel Richie @ Starbucks

I found a local malcontent willing to help me distribute them out about our locale. That locale being Tempe, Arizona, if you’re an exacting sort.

We hit up local Cartel Coffee, a signboard, a pay-phone (a very rare thing these days), a some newspaper boxes, and a few other spots that caught our eye. My favorite was getting Lionel up in Starbucks (wider shot to the right).

If you liked this form of silliness, you can download the Lionel Richie flier as a technicolor PDF and spread it around your own hood. If you do, please share links to your pictures!

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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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!