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Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  285 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
A fake U2 concert. A deranged hypnotist.

A book signing by a dead author.

Welcome to the wild world of Improv Everywhere.

From the infamous No Pants! Subway Ride to the legendary Grand Central Freeze, Improv Everywhere has been responsible for some of the most original and subversive pranks of the Internet age. In Causing a Scene, the group's agents provide a hilarious firsth
ebook, 272 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jun 04, 2009 Weavre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who likes to laugh
Recommended to Weavre by: Vine
Absolutely brilliant! This little gem chronicles the antics of New York's "Improv Everywhere," which stages victimless stunts designed to give their impromptu audiences incredible, usually joyful stories to share for the rest of their lives. I was intrigued by the concept, and started reading as soon as the book arrived. Almost immediately, I was laughing out loud and had to share a scene with my family. After the second shared vignette, my family all agreed they wanted to read Causing a Scene t ...more
Mar 22, 2012 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charlie Todd is my idol. Or at least, he's of them them. He's my idol because he spreads joy and happiness in the funniest and most amusing way possible. In short, he spreads joy and happiness through extraordinarily large-scale pranks.

At a glance, this doesn't make much sense. Pranking usually leaves the victim embarrassed. But Charlie Todd's pranks aren't like that. His pranks are meant to be "shared experiences of absurdity," a idea that he expresses in his talk at TEDxBloomington.

Todd's defi
Scott Foley
Oct 31, 2011 Scott Foley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book reflects upon some of the most successful missions completed by Improv Everywhere, a New York based comedy group that stages harmless--though chaotic--pranks throughout the city. Examples include (my personal favorite) an Anton Chekhov book signing at Barnes and Noble, an Olympic Trial synchronized swimming bid in the Washington Square Park fountain, and how they froze time in Grand Central Terminal.

The book is very well-organized with firsthand accounts from the actual agents who both
Bob Redmond
Aug 20, 2009 Bob Redmond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone has probably heard of or seen the "freeze" in Grand Central Station from early 2008. (If not, check it out! That prank and many others were organized by the group Improv Everywhere, which was founded by Charlie Todd in the summer of 2001 in New York. While not the first such group, Improv Everywhere is arguably the most successful, inspiring copycat pranks and a worldwide network of "Urban Pranksters."

This book documents, in 14 case studies, so
How did I not know about I think this is the most heartwarming experiment ever. Pranks have always seemed somewhat malicious to me, but these are fun and harmless ways to bring a community of strangers together for a shared experience.

My favorite improvs include:

The Time Loop, where you get a group of people together to perform the same scene over and over again for 1 hour, making the onlookers think that they are in a time loop. The example in the book is to enter a
Jan 26, 2011 Kaara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While Charlie Todd's accounts of his Improv Everywhere pranks are pretty entertaining (if badly copyedited--why does the publishing world think editing is no longer a necessity? It's embarrassing), my main conclusion is that Todd is kind of an insensitive jerk. Sorry, Charlie. I suspect he even thinks this himself, given how many times he insists his pranks are "victimless." I guess it depends on how you define "victim." It seems to me the cab driver who was absolutely elated and elevated becaus ...more

"Causing a Scene" is an enjoyable inside account of some of the many innovative public performances and pranks of New York City based Improv Everywhere, known for such You-Tube sensations as Frozen Grand Central Station, Best Buy, and the ongoing No Pants Subway Ride. My favorite, though, has to be the prank involving an Anton Chekov reading at a Barnes and Noble. For over ten years now, (before even the emergence of YouTube) the group has aimed to create a little good-natured public chaos
This is one of the funniest and most inspiring books I’ve ever read. More than just mere pranksters, Improv Everywhere seeks to delight, baffle and entertain and, sometimes, give people the time of their lives and a really interesting story to tell the folks back home. Whether they’re convincing people that U2 is giving a surprise concert on a local rooftop (their most famous bit) to orchestrating a “freeze” in busy Grand Central Station, no prank is too elaborate or off the wall for them to tac ...more
David A.
This could have been so much better a book. I bought it after seeing the author present on his experience leading Improv Everywhere, a group that has blown my mind over and over. He showed us video of their missions, ranging from a group of fifty or so dressing like Best Buy staff and loitering at Best Buy, to several hundred people freezing in the middle of Grand Central Terminal, to the annual "No Pants Day" onthe New York Subway, to the very moving bell choir taking over a Salvation Army buck ...more
Jun 22, 2009 Bobby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book would have been much better if it was not a book. What do I mean? When your subject matter is intricately planned pranks executed on a large scale, why settle for print when most of these "missions" were filmed. This group peaked my interest when I saw their story of "The Best Gig Ever" on This American Life. Wouldn't it have made more sense to release all the footage as a documentary style DVD similar to the This American Life segment?

All that aside, I was impressed with the creativit
Apr 27, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Written by the guys who founded the Improv Everywhere group, this tells about some of the hilarious pranks they have pulled off, all in public places. Some are more elaborate than others but all result in (mostly) making people smile and giving them a good story to tell for the rest of their lives. My favorites are the 80 people who showed up in a Best Buy wearing blue shirts and khakis and the "Look Up More" prank, which involved improv participants dancing in store windows in a New York buildi ...more
Nov 12, 2015 Rabby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading about the rise of Improv Everywhere - and about many of their most insane stunts! This book is absolutely a fun romp that will leave you grinning, and maybe cringing a bit at some of the reactions they've gotten. The only flaw I could say is that it doesn't have a huge amount of re-readability. It's great to borrow from the library or from a friend, but to hang onto in my bookshelf may be a little bit more love than I can give it. I ended up passing it along as a gift to someone ...more
Sep 23, 2009 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those needing a break from murder, genocide, etc
Recommended to Craig by: NPR (or was it Bob Edwards?)
Shelves: read-in-2009
After recently reading books about murder, making mistakes, identity theft, genocide, corruption and torturing animals, this was a nice break. It is a VERY light, breezy book. No heavy lifting (or thinking) required. Your head (or heart) will not hurt at the end of it.

It's funny, some reviews say the book is not as good as the videos it talks about. I watched a couple of the videos when I was half-way through the book and thought they didn't live up to what I had read. So, I stuck with the book
Aug 25, 2009 Vicki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was fun to read, although I think the author could have made it a little easier. I have senn the videos online of different improvs events, such as the people who froze in a train station, or sang and danced to Doe-re-me. There's even one where an impromptu wedding reception is held for a newly married couple. Lots of fun! THis book gives you info on how to create your own scene, but it's a bit confusing. Still good info if you want to do an improv like this!!!
Feb 09, 2010 Katrina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
I've followed the antics of Improv Everywhere online since I got introduced to them via the wonders of the Best Buy trick. (That said, they're probably better known as the guys behind No Pants Day.)

I have done similar things with flashmobs in San Francisco -- whatever happened to those? -- but there's a part of me who would, if I were ten years younger, pull the freeze trick on Sproul Plaza at lunchtime. %)

Anyway, the book is charming, hilarious, and absolutely wonderful. Recommended.
Jan 30, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Todd and Sordelis' account of the genesis and continued hijinks of a loosely organized group of people willing to make all kinds of scens in public is fun and inspiring! Some of the "missions" they describe are simple, like "get a bunch of people to show up at Best Buy dressed in blue polos and khakis". Some are incredibly complex, like "recreate the same 5 minutes over and over for an hour". All of them are entertaining!
Aug 28, 2009 Patty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Loved the idea of the book and reading about all the things done. I've long wanted to be involved with something like this so it was fun to read about it.

The writing was not so great. A lot of repetition. Some of it didn't flow very well. A little too gimmicky. I would have preferred the authors just tell the stories - that would have made a much better book.
Jul 29, 2011 Janine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an excellent showcase of Improve Everywhere's most prominent and successful experiments. The stories themselves are hilarious. The book includes 'tips' to pull off similar pranks of your own, and testimonials from key persons within each notorious prank. This is fabulous and entertaining - almost as much as seeing Improv Everywhere at work.
May 22, 2011 Ebby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you're unfamiliar with Charlie Todd/ Improv everywhere, then I suggest that you get on youtube and educate yourself. Their videos are hilarious, and I really enjoyed the stories and backgrounds for the videos that I had seen far more than ones I hadn't.

As a side note: I have used ideas from this book for our church's youth group activities with great success.
I guess I expected more chuckles or inspiration from this book. The videos and such are great, and perhaps discussing them just doesn't have the same impact. Great group - if there was one in my town I'd be a regular participant. But I found this book only mildly interesting.
Sarah Jane
Very funny, rather touching. Of course you really need the website and videos for the full experience. But I still enjoyed reading extra tidbits and "agent" accounts/advice. Great for existing fans of the group, good for reeling in new fans.
This was an entertaining read. I needed a break from the heavy stuff and this fit the bill. I have seen the viral videos, so it was neat to read the behind the scene perspective. Harmless fun and a creative mind ... I can appreciate it. Not an Earth shattering story, but a worthwhile short read.
May 19, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great fun!!! Truly original!!! There's not much I can say about the book - you simply have to read it. I'd love to witness a "mission!"

P.S. Just today, we're walking around the mall and my son turns to me and remarks, "Hey, that guy looks just like Anton Chekov!" Too funny!
Jul 03, 2009 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been watching the Improv Everywhere videos on You Tube since the Frozen Grand Central event. It's great, harmless fun. Check them out for yourself.

Aug 23, 2009 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great little book that documents Improv Everywhere's pranks & performances. 80+ improv actors / actresses in khakis & blue polo shirts invade Best Buy one at a time. This book made me smile to read the behind the scenes planning and stories of the groups greatest public performances.
Oct 11, 2012 Jeroen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alias been a big fan of the improv everywhere guys And there pranks. Though i digged their site (with lost of pictures and movie clips) more than this book. Bought it more as a reference and support for the guys. Still a great read though!
Aug 28, 2009 Davezilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! If you love pranks, viral stunts, guerrilla tactics, or just admire those who can pull them off successfully, this book is for you. Written by the geniuses at Improv Everywhere, best known for getting hundreds of people to simultaneously freeze in place in Grand Central Station.
Geri Hoekzema
Jul 02, 2012 Geri Hoekzema rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am really enjoying this one so far! I picked it up because, even since I took an Improv class at Clark College 5 years ago, I read everything I can about on the subject. Check out the authors' website Improv Everywhere to read about their flash mob scenes.
Kate Davis
May 29, 2010 Kate Davis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fun read, and a great reminder to enjoy interactions and playing around - even if you're grown up and responsible. I'll admit I skimmed over parts; it's mostly great just to get the concepts so you can YouTube the videos and actually see people's reactions.
Nov 21, 2009 Chantelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are unfamiliar with ImprovEverywhere
Shelves: humour, don-t-own
I ended up skimming a lot of this book, because I remembered reading so much of it verbatim on the improveverywhere website. This would be a very nice intro book for someone who had never visited the IE website.
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Charlie Todd is the founder of Improv Everywhere, producing, directing, performing, and documenting the group's work for over seven years. He is also a teacher and performer of improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City.

Author page at Harper Collins
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