I love Improv Everywhere. I believe Improv Everywhere is a great example of spontaneity generating creativity and “filling the inner artist meter”. This blog post, in fact, is inspired by all the joy, creativity, and spontaneity that I experienced while on Week 7 of my Artist Way Adventure.
On June 21 I enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Battery Park in my beloved city. I met up with my best friend Sara as we got out of our daily routines and participated in what is called an MP3 Experiment.
Origin of MP3 Experiments
MP3 Experiments were created by Improv Everywhere. I have discussed Improv Everywhere in my Artist Way Adventure and briefly discussed MP3 experiments as well. Improv Everywhere is an organization that ”Cause Scenes”. The ‘scenes’ they cause bring surprise, joy, and spontaneity to the public and gives them a story to tell their friends and family for the future. This organization has done a variety of ‘scenes’, these vary from their infamous Frozen Grand Central flashmob that gave them the push to fame they needed to lesser known and smaller scenes such as making a child’s baseball game into a major league one.
While Improv Everywhere has their own team of ‘agents’ to create ‘scenes’ for people all around the world, they do love the concept of inviting outside sources to spread the love. One can sign up to be apart of their mailing list on their site so that they could get emails on upcoming casting calls for roles that they may need to fill for future ‘scenes’. An instance of this is when they needed to recruit graduates to participate in Commencement Speaker Needed.
However, Improv Everywhere also has found other ways to invite individuals outside of their organization to participate. They host events such as ‘Pant-less Subway Ride’ that is an annual event they hold every year all across the globe to make people turn their heads. They also do what are called MP3 Experiments.
What are MP3 Experiments?
MP3 Experiments are flashmob events hosted by Improv Everywhere. They use technology to easily and semi-effectively communicate with everyone participating in it. All the participant has to do is either download the application on their smart phone or download the MP3 file to play at the listed time. They also need to bring a list of items that are listed prior to the event, these items tend to be affordable and easy to find.
Once all participants are at the agreed upon location with their gear, they either turn on the application or wait until the right time to hit the ‘play’ button. There is no practice necessary prior to the event. In fact, all the participants are encouraged not to play the MP3 until the very moment the flashmob event begins. This means that the participants are just as unaware as the people outside of the flashmob as to what is going to happen.
The concept to an outsider may seem strange Hundreds, even thousands of people gather in a single location and are at the whim of an MP3 for the next hour. However, after 14 successful MP3 experiments, the results show that the organization knows their limits with their power and guide all participants in a responsible and fun manner throughout the entire time.
I got to the event early, as I always do. I like to be prompt at these events and enjoy the beauty of the location that is scouted by Improv Everywhere. I was in communication with Sara via text message and played Pokemon Go while I went to pick up the Boomwhacker that was being given away at the museum nearby Battery Park.
It was then I decided to enjoy the view of the Statue of Liberty and the coastal view. Being from the city means that I don’t have the luxury of viewing water often. Not unless it is falling from the sky. While I tend to prefer exploring a park over swimming in the water, I can appreciate the beauty of watching the ripples of the water, listening to the crashing waves, and smelling the salty ocean air. It is calming and I do my best to include moments of nature in my life so I could relax more and be in tune with my earthy Uruguayan roots.
After taking several pictures and realizing that meeting up with Sara was going to be much more of a challenge than I originally expected, I began to head back to the park. It was certainly an experience in itself trying to find her, one of my favorite exchanges with her during that afternoon were:
“What do you see?”
So you can only imagine how that made finding my friend who was in a park full of “plants”. However, I’m sure I would have given the same answer if she had asked me that as well, this is why we are such great friends. We have the same level of common sense sometimes and it makes simple tasks into adrenaline pumping adventures.
The MP3 Experiment #14
Now would be an excellent time to play the video of the MP3 experiment that I participated in. While I do not show up at any time during the footage, I was involved in the experiment and had a blast.
Okay, I’m assuming that you have watched the video.
If you haven’t then you can always watch it later.
The loved the beginning of the MP3 experiment, we did a lot of the popular MP3 tasks such as giving away dollar bills and following the leader (the leader being an oblivious pedestrian). These tasks while not ‘new’ to the Improv Everywhere MP3 experiments are always satisfying to do thanks to the responses of our ‘audience’. One of the best parts was when we gradually began to drop to the ground and lay there, I got to hear several of people whispering to one another about what they thought was going on. The grins from strangers as they were bombarded with high-fives, followed by dollars were excellent as well.
The other tasks that were unique to this MP3 experiment were also fun. Setting up our own ‘shops’ was a creative use of a bandana and a cheap-o item and some people even managed to make sales. I certainly did not.
When it came time to use our Boomwhackers, the sounds of everyone smacking their noise-making sticks were really awesome. To hear all of us kinda hitting our weapons of musical destruction in unison was pretty awesome and we were still turning heads wherever we went. We got to play games such as ‘Freeze Tag’ which reminded me of my childhood days and ‘Sword Fighting’. Though admittedly, sword fighting was a bit awkward, I mean dueling a strange you don’t want to accidently hit them so we were all being pretty cautious and held back our swings.
The mini-games afterward were good to meet and team up with people, but admittedly the Boomwhackers weren’t the best vessels for passing a ping-pong ball. In fact the Boomwhacker wasn’t a good vessel for war either, I couldn’t really throw any ping-pong ball far at all, though that might say more about my coordination than Improv Everywhere’s choice of prop.
Obviously I would do this again. I have participated in every MP3 Experiment that I could and will continue to do so. Not only is the MP3 Experiment a great and safe event to pariticpate in that is cost-effective, but it also makes you feel ‘special’ to be apart of such a spontaneously made community. Once the event is over, you are able to openly talk to strangers about your experience and everyone is usually open about chatting about their own experience after the event.
I know that during my subway ride home, I chatted with fellow paritcipants easily since we all carried our Boomwhackers proudly and it was a bright and colorful prop that stood out. While the concept of talking to strangers is a dangerous one, I appreciate how MP3 Experiments and the community of Improv Everywhere allows us the ability to interact with strangers in such a safe manner.
After all, getting out of one’s comfort zone makes for great stories and great art.
Have you done anything spontaneous such as an MP3 Experiment? If so you should Tweet your experiences at me at Carprincessii