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"It's not funny until someone else is laughing."

Yesterday, I totally lucked out. First, I walked across Spring Street to look at the menu of “Bread” and was NOT run over, because the driver of a van had superhuman reflexes. Then I receieved an email that I had a seat on swissmiss’ CreativeMorning in Brooklyn – with guest speaker Charlie Todd.

Waiting for CreativeMorning @ Invisible Dog Gallery

By now, 20 million people have watched his “Frozen Grand Central”, a public performance so inspiring that even the marketing department at T-Mobile felt the power and was able to steal the idea in a beautful way. Todd’s not very mussed up over this. He doesn’t like to repeat stuff, and he did it first.

The goal of Improv Everywhere isn’t even to be big on Youtube. It’s to interrupt people’s everyday life and give them something to feel good about. (Take that, haters of interruption marketing). “We just want people to do a triple take – and then laugh.” I asked him if any of his ideas ever failed. Todd says there are people who just do not react at all – even if they have just entered a subway car full of men in underwear. But the majority is just baffled and rapt.

Like any great agent provocateur, Todd’s not talking about his motivation much, but it’s obvious he’s really getting a kick out of that liminal stage of confusion: The strange place between calling the cops and smiling. And both reactions are fine with him. He recalls a a security guy at DSW absurdly yelling “No Jumping Jacks allowed!” at them, and smiles. For many people, he says, “It’s not funny until someone else is laughing.”

But more than enough people are. He has a list of 25.000 volunteers who are ready to partake in any kind of foolishness.

Being an internet success story, marketing money isn’t far. “I get approached by marketers almost every other day. But 99% of the times, their idea of what I can do for them is just wrong.” Usually the agencies’ suggestions include donning a branded T-Shirt, he grins.

Here’s the 1% exception. Trident sponsored Improv Everywhere’s Grocery Store Musical. I checked: no Trident-T-Shirts.

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