Thursday, September 24, 2009

Anarchy at a date to be determined later!

Although librarians have a reputation as being rabble-rousers for intellectual freedom, most of us don't promote anarchy and mass civil disobedience. That being said, I got a real kick* out of Causing a Scene: extraordinary pranks in ordinary places with Improv Everywhere by Charlie Todd and Alex Scordelis. The phenomenon of mass coordinated stranger pranks got it's start in 2001 when Charlie Todd decided to pass himself off in a restaurant as Ben Folds (of Ben Folds Five semi-fame). What started as a lark soon became a website and then the book.
Basically, it's all about devising a silly, Candid-Camera like stunt and getting a whole bunch of total strangers to participate - some knowingly and some not. For instance, one group staged an author reading and book signing at a Barnes & Noble store. The author: Anton Chekov (who died in 1904). Another prank, which seems to have gotten a life of its own, involved getting a whole bunch of people to ride the subway without wearing pants. The book explains how the whole project got started, showcases some of the more brilliant pranks - and fills you in on the 'aftermath' - and ends with the eventual outcome from the Ben Folds impersonation.
In accordance with the spirit of Improv Everywhere, the stunts are all benign goofiness. There's no humiliation of unsuspecting people, no property damage, no financial gain. This isn't solving world peace or contributing to the greater good of mankind, but it's funny and silly...and don't we all need to lighten up a little?

(*This kind of humor - much like 'Kick Me' signs - is always funnier when it happens to someone else. I don't know that I would find it quite so droll if I was the target)

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