Ted’s Birthday

Featuring: Winckler, Arnheiter, Harms, Jesster, Montague, Tyne, Scherer, Cicci, King, Spencer, Dippold, Maestro, Delfino, Morningstar, Arnheiter, Good, Shelky, Harms, Barrison, Todd, Marhekifson, Plumettaz, Rowcroft, Legion, Berman, McMurray, Rosenthal

Improv Everywhere Mission

Digital Photgraphy: Agent Winckler
Mission Inspired by: Rob Huebel

On September 19, 2003 around thirty guests celebrated Ted Hine’s birthday at Dempsy’s bar on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. This came as a total shock to NYU student “Chris”, who had no idea he was “Ted” and no idea why he was being inundated with gifts from strangers.

Here is the brief Agent Todd sent out to the participating agents a few days before the mission:

We are going to throw a birthday party for a stranger.

We will meet at the East 4th Bar at 9 PM. I will enter another bar around the corner alone and pick out a guy who looks like he’s sitting with friends and not leaving for a long time. I’ll report back to East 4th and identify him for everyone.

Then, either by yourself or in small groups, you will enter the bar, walk up to the guy I’ve picked out and act as if you know him personally and he has invited you to his birthday party that night at that bar. You will then give him an envelope with his present, a $10 gift certificate to a popular store [I will purchase the gift certificates myself and you will give me $10 at the meeting place in exchange for one.]

Here is a fictional biography of the guy we are going to target. Memorize these details so that we will all be on the same page.

Name: Ted Hine
Age: 25
College: UNC-Chapel Hill
Works at: Oppenheimer Funds
Status: Single
Interests: Dave Matthews Band, Monty Python, Rock Climbing

Pick a relationship you have to Ted. Perhaps you work with him at Oppenheimer or went to school with him at UNC. Maybe you met him at a rock climbing gym. However you know him, you are there because Ted sent you an “evite” to his party.

Obviously, the guy we target will, at least at first, claim not to be Ted. Just laugh whenever he says this and say something like, “You’re too funny, Ted” or “Don’t be shy, Ted.” There are 25 of us participating, so Ted will be getting $250 worth of gift certificates. It should ultimately be a very fun night for him, and us. After you’ve said hello to Ted and given him his present, just act natural and have fun at the bar for the rest of the night. Try not to bother Ted too much, but don’t ignore him either. Make sure you tell him goodbye if you leave.

We will never break character. Never say what group we are from, and never say anything to indicate to Ted that there is anything unusual going on. Also, please don’t discuss this event publicly before it happens.

**Remember to bring a ten dollar bill**

See you then!

Agent Todd

Improv Everywhere Mission

Improv Everywhere Mission

Improv Everywhere Mission

Improv Everywhere Mission
IE Agents with their gifts at the East 4th Bar

As the team assembled at East 4th Bar, Agent Todd outfitted everyone with his $10 gift certificate. Most agents brought their own personally addressed birthday card and placed the certificates inside. Earlier in the day Agent Todd had bought $150 in Best Buy gift cards and $100 in Barnes and Noble gift cards.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Agent Barrison with Ted’s cake

Around 9:30, Agent Todd left East 4th Bar alone and walked around the corner to Dempsey’s on 2nd Avenue. Dempsey’s was our chosen locale due to its cheap drinks, large amount of space, and the fact that it is usually not crowded. The bar was pretty dead when Agent Todd arrived. The selection of who would be “Ted” turned out to be quite easy as there was hardly anyone to chose from. It was key to pick someone who looked like he would be staying for a long while. Two young college kids were sitting in the back corner of the bar with a full pitcher of beer. Agent Todd chose one of them and returned to East 4th to give out the description. “He’s a young white guy with shaggy reddish blonde hair. He looks sort of like a hipster and is wearing a striped shirt with a white jacket and sitting with one friend at the back of the bar.”

Improv Everywhere Mission
Agent Todd sits with Ted

Agent Todd and Harms were the first to head over. Birthday cards in hand, they went straight to the back of the bar and pulled up to chairs to Ted’s table. The two told Ted happy birthday and met his friend, Harry. Ted was absolutely bewildered and tried to clear up the confusion. “You’ve got the wrong guy,” he kept insisting. Harry chimed in, “Any minute now someone who looks just like you is going to show up.” Todd and Harms laughed and said things like, “Ted, I didn’t live with you for our entire senior year at UNC for you to act like you don’t know me!” Ted became frustrated.

Ted: If it’s my birthday, then buy me a shot.
Agent Todd: You bet. What would you like?
Ted: A Kamikaze. You have to get Harry one too.
Agent Harms: Ok. 4 Kamikazes coming up!

Todd and Harms returned from the bar moments later and the foursome did their shots. Todd ordered a pitcher of beer from the waitress for the table. Ted and Harry were visibly uncomfortable with what was going on and at this point still convinced that it was a mere case of mistaken identity.

Improv Everywhere Mission
More guests arrive to greet Ted

At this point a steady stream of party guests began to enter. Ted began to insist more vehemently that he was not who everyone thought he was, and made clear that he would not accept any gifts. “These are for someone else,” he kept saying.

Ted and Harry got up from their table and went outside to smoke on the street. While outside, Ted was greeted by the second wave of party guests who fortunately were able to recognize him by Agent Todd’s description. Ted was curt with the second wave of guests, tossing his gifts aside and not engaging in small talk.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Ted sits by his cake and presents

When Ted returned to his table, Agent Barrison presented him with a chocolate birthday cake and the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” heartily. Harry looked at Ted and with great urgency told him, “We need to get out of here. Now. Let’s get the check.” Several agents attempted to pick up Ted’s check, but he insisted on paying himself. He and Harry exited the bar quickly after paying, leaving behind a stack of gifts and cards.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Harry pays the check as Ted shows waitress Courtney one of his gifts

At this point it seemed as though Ted was gone for good. Agent Todd told everyone to prepare for the possibility of having to reload and attempt the mission at a new bar with a new Ted.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Ted and Harry smoke outside as agents Todd, Good,
Spencer, and Delfino talk with them

While Ted did leave the bar, he didn’t go far. He and Harry hung out on the street chain-smoking for a good ten minutes while several agents talked with him. Agent Spencer was able to slowly calm him down (while staying in character), and Agent Good was able to get him back in the bar with a promise of another Kamikaze shot and a round of pool.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Ted plays pool

Ted re-entered Dempsey’s with a new attitude. His denials were gone, and he was ready to agree with everything that came his way. He began answering to Ted and corroborating everyone’s personal stories. His outlook had done a complete 180.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Ted’s stash of presents

From this point on Ted’s party was an absolute blast for everyone involved. Ted and Harry downed countless shots and beers, all paid for by his IE friends. They played several rounds of pool and began flirting with the female agents. By the end of the night, the duo had bought Agent Delfino 6 shots and were trying to get her to come to their apartment to hang out.

Improv Everywhere Mission
One slice of cake left

Ted also started hugging. He became sad when folks started to leave around midnight, and he administered hearty bear hugs to everyone on their way out. Only a handful of agents outlasted Ted. Agent Todd put all of Ted’s presents in a grocery bag for him, and he left the bar with $250 in gifts and a great story to tell.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Ted poses with Agent Winckler

AGENT REPORTS

Agent Montague
What surprised me the most was Ted’s 180. After 10 minutes, he was paying the check and out the door. After an hour, he was back in the bar and playing the part. After 2 hours, I think he’d convinced himself he really was Ted. I remember him saying to me, “Why is everyone leaving my party. It’s still so early.”

When I first encountered Ted one on one, he was just starting to get into the idea. I was playing the part of Ted’s frat brother from UNC. I sat outside on a bench, as Ted exited the bar. I said, “Hey Ted! What’s up!” “It’s Ted, not Todd,” he responded. “Ted, what are you talking about? Kappa Sig man!” I exclaimed.

Ted gave me a confused look. Then, in a moment of pure Ted genius, he brought his fist to his heart. “Brothers for life,” he replied casually. “I’m going to get some smokes, I’ll be right back.”

Sure enough, he came back. He would leave time and time again. Every time I wondered, “Is he coming back?” That crazy Ted, he had us all the way. He always came back when he said he would.

To top it all off, I had the chance to play Ted in pool. I felt bad for him, because everyone was watching him, and he really wasn’t very good at pool. Whenever anyone played him, you could kind of tell they were missing on purpose. It was never easily done, but Ted usually came out on top. In my case, Agent Shafeek and myself lost to Ted and his buddy. 3 cheers for Ted!

Agent McMurray
The boy seemed a bit skittish at first. He’d probably never gotten that much attention in his life…and not because he wasn’t a upstanding fellow…but probably because he had avoided it. But as the night went on he seemed to talk things out with his friend and started to get more comfortable. I offered to play a round of pool with him even though I was a self-proclaimed “sucky pool player” and he agreed to it. But, alas, a friend who I had not hung with in a long time was out and about and I had to leave the party early. I left Ted and wished him a happy birthday. I think he had a good night.

The next day I was out running on 2nd avenue, huffing and puffing my way back home, and who did I see? Ted!! So I winked and smiled at him hoping he’d recognize me from the night before but I guess we’ll never know because I just kept on running.

Agent Delfino
I spent a good portion of the evening kicking ass on the pool table, and beat Ted senseless on one or two occasions. Ted and Harry tried to convince me to come to their apartment. They ended up buying me like 6 shots, and I wasn’t even asking for them. They were just like, hey, Jessica, come take this shot. I didn’t end up going wiht them, and it was probably for the better. I was so pooped after the party I just went home and crashed out.

Agent Rowcroft
Right as two of my former “college friends” were about to go into the bar to meet Ted we noticed him outside smoking a cigarette with his friend. He didn’t notice us, and I over heard him say something along the lines of “…what the hell is going on in there, this is so weird…”, and as he was saying that me and my “friend” yelled “Ted what’s up! Happy Birthday buddy!” And he just stood there thanked us all wearily and took our gifts. It was hilarious. I also overheard him say to his friend later on that everything he got he would split evenly with him.

Agent Morningstar
I was in one of the last groups to head over to the site of Ted’s birthday shindig. We intercepted by another guest to Ted’s party and informed that Ted was now smoking/on his cell phone outside. Agent Plumettaz dove in and chatted it up with “Ted”. Agent Marhekifson and I chilled outside awaiting Ted to head back in. Ted seemed a bit perturbed and confused, while his buddy appeared to find the whole thing pretty amusing (smiling, and snickering under his breath when Ted was not looking.) When Ted went inside, Agent Marhekifson and I entered as well.

Once Ted re-entered and approached the back of the bar where everyone was camped out, a cake was brought in and he was treated to a festive rendition of Happy Birthday. Ted still looked very confused. He posed for pictures with the birthday cake. At this point a number of people congratulated him and showered him with gift certificates and cards. Then Ted made an attempt to pay his check and leave. A number of birthday well wishers leaped at the opportunity to settle his tab since it was his birthday. One or two of them were especially convincing, refusing to let the birthday boy pay. Alas, Ted politely declined. I then overheard Ted trying to explain to the waitress what was going on, that he had arrived at the bar and he had been approached by strangers giving him gifts. He didn’t know what to do with the gifts, and he didn’t know who we were. After the check was settled, Ted exited. We weren’t sure if he was coming back.

After an extended smoke break, Ted re-entered the bar. He seemed to have warmed up to what was going on at this point (I don’t know if his buddy convinced him to roll with it or what). Around this time, I remember the waitress informing us that this was her first night. Kripes!

It was then that I approached Ted to give him his birthday card. I just kind of shyly told him it was really great to see him, that it had been a long time. He played along, telling me he was happy to see me too, coming over to me and giving me a hug. I motioned toward the stack of cards/gifts and mentioned that I was impressed by what a haul he had raked in for his birthday. He shook his head, and said he did not know what to do with it. I told him, “Enjoy it, it’s your birthday man!” At that point he turned to me and asked me, “Seriously, do you know what’s going on here?” I told him, “People love you man. All of your friends and co-workers just want you to have a good time on your birthday.” Ted, apparently having heard this kind of response before just shook his head and said, “Okay.” Then Ted introduced me to his friend Harry and asked me not to refer to him as Indian, because he is in fact from Pakistan. Some more birthday well wishers showed up, so I trotted off and hung out elsewhere in the bar. Later on he asked me to take a shot for him in the pool game he was playing. I screwed up the shot, apologized for screwing up his game on his birthday, and excused myself from the game.

Later on, someone toasted Ted’s birthday. Alas I forget what was said in the toast, but everyone in that corner of the bar raised his glass for Ted.

Agent Tyne
We were probably in the third wave of people to go in, and as we get to the bar a red-haired guy is coming out, so a moment of fear and “Is that him?” cross my mind.

Luckily, he’s saying, “I must be losing my mind.”

Taking that as my cue, my friend and I yell, “TED! Happy Birthday!”

He looks confused and says “Um…thanks…the others are inside…”

“Oh great! Is it the rest of the college crew?”

“I don’t know who they are, but they’re inside.”

“Awesome…Janice couldn’t make it, but she pitched in on this.” I say handing over the card.

“Thanks,” says he not taking it.

“Here, Happy birthday!”

He just stares at the card, continuing to not take it. “Take it. Take it! TAKE IT!” and he takes it with a polite nod and a smile as we duck in the bar.

Later on after the party has been going on for a while, the illusion still seems to be holding. Just before we leave “Janice” calls on my phone to say sorry for missing the party (it’s my friend Caitlin). I tell her what’s going on and pass the phone over to Ted, “Hey, Ted…it’s Janice on the phone. She’s stuck in the hurricane, but wanted to call and say “Happy Birthday!”

I pass the phone and from my end I hear, “Wait…listen. Do I sound like Ted?”

Agent Shelky
When we got to Dempsey’s, Ted was already outside smoking so we doubled back around so we could walk up and make an entrance. He was going back inside. Initially, Ted did not seem too pleased with his party. In fact, it seemed like he was going to leave. I went up and gave him my gift and said how it was really good to see him outside of work.

There was a moment where it seemed like Ted was going to leave and we all started to gather up our presents in case we had to pick another Ted. But luckily Ted came back. He got very used to receiving lots of cards and gifts and getting lots of free drinks.

Eventually, even Ted’s real friend starting calling him Ted. Ted went to call up one of his best friends who wasn’t there, and Agent Spencer acted all pissed that “Ben” wasn’t coming to Ted’s b-day party. Ted suggested she leave a message so she did.

Ted got over $250 in gift certificates.

I wish I was Ted. I think we all do.

Agent Jesster
The only idea I had come up with for my relationship with Ted was that he had dated my sister until fairly recently, and so I made use of that idea by putting my name and my sister “Tanya’s” name on my card as well – and in my head I planned on making it a point to tell Ted that “Tanya” wanted to come out, but she felt it was “too soon.” So I walked to Dempsey’s a while after everyone else and once I got inside I realized that Ted was actually smoking a cigarette, meaning I had just walked by the guy I’m supposed to know. I quickly walked back outside and gave Ted a big apology for walking right by him without seeing him. Ted was clearly not enjoying himself at the moment. He sat on a bench in front of the bar smoking his cigarette, avoiding eye contact with all of us. Sitting next to him was a large pile of cards and gift certificates. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Agent Jesster: Teddddd….buddy! Ah, man sorry I missed you – Happy Birthday! Here’s a little something for ya!
Ted: Yeah…ok…thanks. (He tosses the card into the pile without ever looking at me or at the gift)
Agent Jesster: So listen…Tanya says hello, and she sends her regards, but she couldn’t make it out tonight…
Ted: Uh, ok…whatever.
Agent Jesster: So how’s Oppenheimer treatin’ ya?
Ted: (with extreme disdain) You know, I HONESTLY don’t know.”

I left him alone for a while after that. He came back inside, we all sung him happy birthday, and gave him a cake, and he didn’t seem to enjoy that much either. At this point I thought the whole night was a total bust. Our Ted wasn’t having any fun at all. Then, the strangest thing happened. He went outside for another cigarette break, and he came back, had a shot with Agent Good, and then suddenly, he was completely accepting of the situation. He became “Ted” and started having fun with all of us. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the realization that while the situation was kind of crazy, everyone was just trying to have fun, or maybe he finally noticed the $200+ dollars in gift certificates he was getting, but whatever it was, Ted was finally coming around.

A short time later, I tried talking to him again – the conversation went a lot better this time: (paraphrasing to the best of my memory)

Agent Jesster: Ted, uh, about Tanya…you know, she really wanted to be here tonight. But she just felt like it was too soon.
Ted: Yeah well, I would have liked to see her too…
Agent Jesster: You guys had a pretty rough breakup, though, you know?
Ted: Yeah, yeah…we certainly did. There was a lot of emotion there. She was really something.
Agent Jesster: You went out for like what? A year?
Ted: Nah, more like a year and a half.

By the end, Ted was totally embracing my history with him, and it was awesome. His friend, Harry was cool too. I think in the end it turned out to be a big success.

Agent Good
I was the first one to approach Ted and all I had time to get out was a “there he is!” before he interrupted and said, “dude, I’m not Ted.” I passed it off as Ted being a kidder, like always, and then I introduced him to Pam, my girlfriend. He shook her hand. After that a couple of other people came up to say hi, and Pam and I went to the bar. Apparently all the attention was too much for Ted as he went outside shortly after we arrived for the first of his many chain-smoking breaks.

After a while I went outside to see if he was ok. He seemed a little frazzled and was asking what the hell was going on. At one point I think he asked us if he had won some sort of prize. After standing outside for a little while, I told him that I would buy him a shot.

Me: C’mon back in, we need to do a shot.
Agent Todd: Nah we just did a Kamikaze a little while ago.
Ted: I’ll do another Kamikaze.

Sweet! He was hooked and came back after a little while longer. I bought both Ted and his friend Harry a shot. And we all headed back toward the party.

Next time I stopped to see how Ted was doing he was talking to waitress Courtney, who was working her first night at Dempsey’s.

Ted: I don’t know what I should do.
Courtney: Open one of the cards.
Ted: What happens when the real Ted shows up?
Courtney: Do you think there is a real Ted?
Ted: I don’t know.
Courtney: Maybe they just picked you. I’ll read on of the cards maybe they’ll say it’s joke or something.

Courtney opens one of the cards with a Best Buy gift certificate in it and she reads it.

Courtney: Ok this looks like its serious.

When Courtney asked me what was going on I kept telling her that Ted did the same thing on his 21st birthday too.

After a while though, Ted started to lighten up and even started answering to the name Ted. We played pool together and I after I lost the game for us by sinking the 8 ball in the pocket and then scratching, he told me not to worry about it and gave me a hug. I had to leave shortly there after and Ted was very accommodating.

Me: Well, I think Pam and I are taking off.
Ted: You’re leaving already? Well, thanks for coming.

Ted gave me another hug good-bye. I had my cell phone out and asked him if he had the same cell number. He told me he had actually gotten a new number and gave it to me. It actually was his real number, as I found out the next day after dialing *67 and the 206 area code number, he picked up.

Ted: Hello?
Me: Ted?
Ted: Yeah.

Awesome.

Agent Berman
That cat hasn’t changed since college. Still the same fiery red head I’ve always loved. Ted asked me, “Hey, do I get to keep the presents for real.” I answered, “Umm,Ted. It is YOUR birthday.” He responded, “Cool!”

Agent Maestro
I overheard Ted saying to his friend, “We are going to get laid tonight”.

Agent Legion
I was proud to be among the first wave of operatives that entered Dempsey’s that evening, as this was my first mission with IE. I had some previous experience with similar outfits in my past, but nothing could have prepared me for the overpowering wave of absolute disbelief that came from our birthday boy himself, Mr. Ted Hine. Ted, a young man in his 20’s, tall, thin, and red haired was fast approaching sheer panic by the fifth or sixth birthday greeting that was offered to him, having left frantic denial that he was not Ted behind him.

I took the tack of being a friend form work, namely, Oppenheimer Funds, although Ted was quick to point out that he never worked there, and showed me his student ID. NYU. Very nice. Oh that wily Ted. Hanging onto his old ID just to get into movies cheaper.

Interestingly enough, the greater “Ted’s” discomfort, the more amused and interested his friend – who’s name, I believe was Harry, became. Several times Ted seemed on the verge of leaving, but as it turns out, the tension of receiving happy birthday greetings, gifts and free drinks offered by a host of friendly people was only fueling his desperate need for a smoke or ten.

As the evening wore on, and Ted grew accustomed to the situation, his once ringing denials of being Ted Hine grew faint, and his mood elevated. A few games of pool, and a few rounds later, Ted seemed to be absolutely at ease. I think he must have realized that somehow he was at the center of something very strange, but if he just rode it out, he would leave a winner, and maybe, just maybe, score with the cute waitress.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances I had to exit rather early from the evening, although, Ted was quick to respond with an, “I’ll see you at work on Monday,” upon my exit. Ted, I might never see you again, but happy birthday man, happy birthday.

Agent Plumettaz
I had fun at Ted’s B-day bash although I must admit I was a little worried in the beginning. His hand was shaking when he tried to give me his birthday card back and he seemed so distraught (I kept laughing at him as if he were being funny but I felt a little bad doing so). Once he decided to go along he was quite the charmer but I still felt a little more reticent than I might have otherwise. I talked to him a few times outside about his “inability to quit smoking although he’s been trying” and his favorite Monty Python episode with the “Killer Joke” which I finally saw etc…

Even though I think the B-day cards were part of his decision to come back into the bar I also felt that once in swing he was enjoying himself. He actually seemed upset when I was leaving. In any case he has quite a story to tell.

Agent Marhekifson
Agent Morningstar and I headed down to Dempsey’s together, one of the last groups to leave, and even before we reached the bar it seemed like the mission would have to be aborted. Word was that Ted had been thrown out of the bar and was sitting, dejectedly and under some form of chemical influence, on a bench outside the bar. Well, Ted WAS on the bench and WAS somewhat dazed/hammered/both, but he was just out smoking a cigarette.

Dude was definitely a bit perplexed (who wouldn’t be?). Soon after he re-entered the bar, with the birthday party following behind, he slipped out again and we feared he was gone for the night, leaving behind all his hundreds of dollars worth of gifts. I guess some people are just weird about their birthdays. But he returned in time, and by the time the cake was served (by a very confused first-time waitress), Ted was starting to get into the birthday spirit.

Happy birthday, Ted, and I hope you weren’t too hung over at Oppenheimer Funds the next day!

Agent King
I was late to Ted’s party – but when I got there, I walked up and said, “Ted! Hey! I told you I’d make it!” and Ted said, “Yeah you did!” and gave me a big hug. He may have been skeptical at first, but by the time I got there he was fully Ted.

Mission Accomplished.

Comments

comments

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165 Responses to Ted’s Birthday

  1. Corion says:

    Wow! What a lucky lucky, poor guy. You might have permanently brainwashed him with this one … I wonder if he showed up for “work” on Monday at Oppenheimer … ?

  2. Jestrada says:

    Brilliant! This has to be one of the best ever! Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, minus Bill. What an awesome story!
    -Jestrada

  3. Jilly says:

    I wish I was Ted! Shortly after I read this mission I was at a bar here in Texas and saw a wirey kid with red hair and a white jacket. I couldn’t resist. Without missing a beat I went up to him and said “Ted! Dude! Awsome party.” At which point he replied; “Uh, yea. The party.” Sweet.

  4. Ted says:

    you missed my birthday last year.

  5. Jesse says:

    Oh man I could not stop laughing when I read over this mission! I’m so happy that Ted warmed up to the idea and had a great time! A night he will likely never forget. Please consider doing this mission again for someone else – and next time bring Ted along!

  6. Rae says:

    I wouldn’t mind being an agent. . . too bad I live in WI. This one takes the cake. It’s close to the bathroom attendant, but better. I wish I could have been at Ted’s birthday.

  7. steve says:

    I heard the profile of your “missions” on this american life; such bullshit, fucking with other people’s lives all for your own little fun. I’m glad “ted” warned you all off for his next birthday… It’s one thing to create situations that help people examine the personna of groups, but doing things that are bewildering and hurtful to others just crosses the line.

  8. Kate says:

    If anyone reading these posts hasn’t heard the unpropagandized reporting of this “mission” go to “This American Life” website.

    This mission is a remorseful failure for many reasons, one being that this kid (only 21 but look at him-he looks like an adolescent) was traumatized at someone’s lame idea for publicity (sell outs).

    You are hurting people, people who may be vulnerable and unable to process your incredibly thoughtless idiocy. Exploiting others for your own gain is the highest crime second only to physical violence or murder.

    QUIT fucking people up…

  9. o.t. says:

    You’re about as mean as they come. Bad enough you feel free to diddle for your own amusment and self-seeking people who’ve never done you any harm. But the pretense that you think it is (or ought to be) something positive is straight out of the ‘just kidding’ follow up people use to cover dissemble about their motives in in junior high.

  10. andrine says:

    oh, come on, lighten up people. it’s a shame that the person they chose to be be ‘ted’ was confused and disturbed, but it’s still a great idea. it’s not as if they went in and hurled abuse, insulted or degraded him in some way. i hope someday he finds his inner ‘ted’ and has a good laugh about it. you too.

  11. Becca says:

    Kate, o.t., Steve … you guys need to chill. It really is too bad that “Ted” decided six months after the fact that the night was somehow traumatizing to him. That is a real bummer and not one that IE probably foresaw. But at the time, it seemed like “Ted” had no problem ultimately accepting free drinks, games of pool and gifts from his “friends” and getting into the spirit of the party. It wasn’t like he was being held hostage. He could’ve left anytime he wanted, but he didn’t. He stayed and played along and it’s too bad he now regrets that choice.
    Do you guys have TV? Have you ever seen “Boiling Points,” or “Damage Control,” or ANY prank show? With those shows, the whole purpose is to put people in stressful situations and see how angry and upset they can make them. With IE and the Ted/Pasha missions, the purpose going in was to give a person/band a really fun, unforgettable night, not to make them angry or sad. The idea that doing something really cool and nice to someone who’s totally not expecting it is “mean-spirited” or “hurtful” is ridiculous. Direct your hostility to the programming department at MTV and the real villains of the world, not towards a bunch of actors who are trying to make the world a funner place.

    Keeep up the good work, IE.

  12. kt says:

    I abhor reality tv and any show that does those targeted pranks, they are wretched, exploitive and destructive.
    However, I do appreciate some of the other work that IE is doing. Some of the missions are really fun.
    Simple request, think before you act, be kind, play safe, don’t mess with people.
    I’m chilling, I’m chilling, already!

  13. Paul, Los Angeles says:

    Only Chris can say whether this was not stressful or traumatic (but given that he tried to leave several times, I doubt that he was having a good time). I believe that targeting individuals for “missions” is exploitative. The IE actors/agents are clearly using Chris for their amusement. From reading IE’s other missions, it seems that you have a good deal of grand creative ideas. Let’s not mess with people.

  14. Richard says:

    Life is filled with suprises and disturbances. This so called “prank” is nothing more than a fun suprise. The kid should have just gone along with it from the start. There is nothing that should have disturbed him, unless he WAS crazy. Pranks are a part of life. And laughter is the spice of life.

  15. Reb says:

    I haven’t heard the TAL show, yet, but I think this prank is distinguishable from some of IE’s more positive work, in that it targeted an individual, who turned out to be somewhat vulnerable.

    While I’m not entirely comfortable with the poster who likened this prank to physical violence, in some ways, as actors, you ought to recognize that you’re dealing with something more sacred, when you mess with an individual’s mind.

    Perhaps more appreciation for your “targets” would make an event like this, ultimately, more fun.

    Picking less vulnerable targets, like rocking G.O.P. can help. But even that prank, I think, had the potential to be ugly. As performers, themselves, G.O.P. were likely to have thicker skins. But even there, I think IE was wise to tread carefully, and to look to like the band for who they really were.

    I wouldn’t want to castrate IE – or expect every prank to be child-proofed. Sometimes comedy will push boundaries and sometimes it will cross lines. But sometimes a joke that was intended to be perfectly harmless is not taken in the spirit in which it was intended.

    While I don’t wish to condemn IE for the lack of success of this caper, I think it should be acknowledged that this wasn’t one of its shining moments.

  16. Arnold says:

    Made me laugh like crazy. Also made me wonder about human psychology. Hopefully and luckily ‘Ted’ is someone with a strong sound mind or else it could have turned ugly or have negative effects on ‘Ted’.

  17. John says:

    The commentator on the This American Life episode nailed it with his observations about Charlie’s motivation, and his reaction to learning that “Ted” didn’t appreciate the “fun” evening arranged for him.

    Picking an individual more or less at random, and having a large group of actors systematically mess with his mind, is fairly irresponsible. I love the idea of what IE does, but I think you guys need to give more thought in the future to the potential downside of a mission like this.

  18. Etabetapi says:

    Please people! My god how traumatic could it have been to receive $250 in gifts, a fun party in your honor, and cake! More traumatic things happen to me everyday and I think it’s safe to say, I am not emotionally scarred by them. If this “Ted” didn’t appreciate the joke, he should’ve walked off and not come back. If he’s suffering any post-party guilt for accepting other peoples gifts and well-wishes, that’s HIS OWN FAULT. Franky, if I had been in his situation I would’ve left myself, because I would’ve felt bad for the person the party was originally intended for. But he’s made his bed, and now he’ll lie in it. Kudos to Improv Everywhere, they think up the best stunts. :D

  19. Christian says:

    There are always tradeoffs to action we engage in. I think that the downside of this mission is merely a tradeoff. That being, those who have experience this mission indirectly by reading about it have more fun than Ted who experience the mission directly. Part of me wishes I could have a random birthday party thrown for me. The best way around this is “disclosure” or in sociological terms “subject debreifing”. It might be better in the future to disclose what happened to the next Ted after the party is over or the next day. Before he finds out on his own.

  20. Hamilton Chang says:

    OMG! I know harry! i’m going to rag him on this!

  21. Ruby McBoobeh says:

    I discovered Improv Everywhere on This Amercian Life. I was impressed and excited by your antics, even inspired, until hearing about “Ted’s” birthday party. Then I felt really sad. I wondered if you lacked a feeling of impact on others in your formative years, and so with the “Ted” stunt did not realize (or even consider, it seems) just how impactful you could be, and were (and not in a good way, from the way it was presented on the radio). I hope for you all that you recognize your fundamental influence on those around you, and use your powers for good, for inspiration, for joyful perplexity. You hurt Chris, and I hope you will recognize the harmful impact this stunt had, not try to defensively play it off.

  22. Ryan says:

    Hilarious, I can’t believe all the nuts who think this was hurtful.

  23. ryan says:

    For this to be cool, you would have had to give credit to Ted for catching on.

    Instead, your mission descriptions treat him like an asshole, making snide comments about his wanting the gifts and the free booze. The only way for him to play along is to get the free stuff. It’s the only role you’ve allowed him, and then you criticize him for it after the fact.

    The other thing is that you guys have taken almost no risk. There are 15 of you, whereas for Ted, the situation is not only confusing, it’s potentially threatening – this drunken mob of people who seem to be my friends may turn on me if they realized I’m not Ted, but they may turn on me now if I don’t say I am.

    You gave the guy no out. This is completely the opposite of some of your other pranks, where you’re the ones taking the risk and making a spectacle not of someone, but of yourselves (the bathroom scene or the subway no-pants thing.)

    This mission was ugly.

  24. Murun says:

    “Ted” could honestly have thought that, had he left, you would have followed him. How did he know you weren’t setting him up for a mugging – “HEY! HERE’S THAT GUY PRETENDED TO BE OUR MATE TED!”.

    Give the guy some credit for having feelings and please don’t steamroller his view becuase, in your view, this was “A Good Thing”.

    I can’t find the “Ted” report on TAL, but it would have worried me.

    Your other missions are often pure genius (Mobius, Look Up and the Listening Booth especially). Stick to these and leave individuals out of your fun.

    The whole point is, surely, that a group of strangers can be “in” on the joke – even if only knowing somethign wierd is going on. With Ted, the only people whom knew something “wierd” was going on were Ted, his friend, the waitress and you lot.

    A good idea doesn’t mean it should be done.

  25. Matt says:

    Murun, I found the TAL story, go to thislife.org and search for episode 286. I haven’t listened to it though since I don’t want to install Real Player.

    I think that with the proper individual, this would have had a better ending. But there are inherent difficulties in finding a suitable individual in a reasonable time.

    A better mission would have been to locate an existing birthday party already in progress, in a bar, park, or other semi public place, and then shower the unsuspecting individual with free drinks and gifts.

  26. Alex says:

    I think the free gifts and an awesome story to tell his mates would make up for any discomfort in the beginning. I just wish I’d been there, since sep 19 is MY birthday. IE is great!

  27. Sue says:

    This might just be how folks with Alzheimer’s Disease feel and react when they don’t recognize friends, family, or a reason for celebration.

  28. Peck says:

    Late, but…

    I completely agree with all of you. That whole set-up was one of the most horrific things I’ve EVER seen. Ted got a WHOLE party!??! AND HIS OWN CAKE?!? 250 DOLLARS WORTH OF GIFT CERTIFICATES!!!!!1!>? THAT’S AWFUL! MY HEART IS BLEEDING FOR TED!!!!

    Seriously, though, Ted has to share the blame. If he didn’t want to hear from these people again, he didn’t have to give out his phone number. "But oh wait!" You say, "Those hooligans at IE GOT him drunk! They forced him!" Um, no. IE agents offered him drinks, which he accepted.

    And he thought that the presents all along were meant for someone else? After a year, there won’t be an ad in the paper. "LOST: 25 gift certificates. Call Ted at ……."
    If Ted thinks that thirty people could confuse a close friend for a complete stranger, then there is something wrong there.

    Calm down.

  29. Red says:

    I must admit what sympathy I might have for these people’s undoubtably deep mind scars is somewhat alleviated by the fact that it took them several years to decide that they were messed with.

    It reminds me a bit of this woman at a fast food joint who was hit by a styrofoam sign. Styrofoam, please remember. At the time she smilled, said it was no big deal and that she accepted the place’s apologies. A few months later she sued the company for physical and mental damages that the sign in question caused her. (They settled.)

  30. AB says:

    OMG, this is so funny! I love it! *rolls eyes at some of the above comments* C’mon, guys… what’s so traumatizing about getting 250 dollars worth of Gift Certificates and some free drinks? :) I wish someone would do that for me!!!

  31. Pyrrhus says:

    Wow, here I am reading about IE’s "missions" giggling along, and then come across this entry…which I heard about months ago on This American Life…one of my favorite shows. I jumped into the story thinking that maybe it was copycat or a different group arriving at the same idea, but it became clear it was the same story.

    I have mixed feelings about the manipulation involved and "Ted’s" long-term reaction to the trick, but I’m not really sure it crossed the line. It’s probably best to let folks escape the pressure if they feel uncomfortable, but as with any involved practical joke, social engineering is a vital component. Put folks under a little contrived pressure or a strange circumstance and see how they react!

    That’s what this sort of informal improv (and practical jokes in general) are all about– involving the audience in a show where they don’t even realize they’re an audience or participants.

  32. Kat says:

    Why in the world hasn’t "Ted" commented here? Surely he’s read this. C’mon, man, tell us why you did the 180 and came back inside to "celebrate."

  33. Fred Green says:

    You took a chance on playing this prank on a stranger, who was clearly mentally unstable. I feel for him, because obviously he has problems if he can’t force himself to walk out of a bar (and stay out) where a bunch of strangers are treating him weirdly. Worst case, this should have caused him confusion and mild consternation. And according to this description here, that’s what happened. I haven’t listened to "This American Life," but I’ll go into it with an open mind. But like I said, IE took a risk and got burned by someone who couldn’t cope with a little confusion.

  34. W had a mission accomplished, too says:

    Isn’t it a little dishonest to call this a "mission accomplished," when this guy didn’t enjoy it, as he revealed later on This American LIfe. Or perhaps you should admit that you’re doing this for your own narcissistic amusement, instead of for the enjoyment of others. Which is fine. Just don’t think that your "ideals" of joy and chaos put you above your average pranksters.

  35. Gary says:

    Nobody likes being ganged up on. Just judging by "Ted’s" appearance, there is no way that he could have been initially mistaken for a "brash college student." It’s not that you’d have to be "mentally unstable" to feel violated by this prank, you’d only have to be a shy person. This guy didn’t want to be a celebrity, he didn’t want random people who read this website mocking him when they recognize him in public for years after the fact. It just sucks that now because of this thoughtless stunt for the rest of this guys life he’s gotta be "Ted, the a$$hole that got drunk, took gifts that weren’t his, and drunkenly tried to get a female intoxicated and take her back to his place." Clearly Chris was a guy that liked to blend in and enjoy low key social affairs. But he was bumrushed by 2 dozen people out of nowhere offering free drinks, next thing you know he’s a laughing stock on the internet. With the insistence of the agents he really wasn’t given any choice but to be the jerk that they wanted him to be. They wrote the story before it even occurred. This gag is like the classic high school trick where the cool kids pretend to like a misfit and build them up just long enough that they can pull the rug out from under them for their own amusement. It’s just sad that an organization that is normally amusing could be so careless.

  36. shinyplum says:

    I like what I have read here on IE. The Ted mission reminded me of something my older sister and her friends pulled on me while we were on a camping trip. I was 8 and she and her friends were 19, 20 years old. Suddenly and for no apparent reason the entire group of people I was camping with began to chant "rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb…" They would not "break character" and would not stop even when I became panicked and frightened. Maybe my reaction added to their amusement?

  37. Ben Dover says:

    You could have gotten Ted laid. I mean, you did spend $250 bucks and all.

  38. jarret says:

    i dont know how kate could say that youll hear "unpropagandized reporting of this ‘mission’" on the "this american life" clip. i heard the show. yes it did take a different view, as some of you have. but for anyone to say that that show wasnt trying to spread this information for the purpose of promoting some cause is rediculous.

  39. Travelnwander says:

    What a huge weenie! People like him and those decrying the party are the reason political correctness has overwhelmed our culture.

  40. denise says:

    What a GREAT Mission! Too bad "Ted" was such a cry-baby weenie about it all. Having to deal with a presents, free drinks and and overall FUN evening! I don’t think he’ll be remembered as "Ted, the a$$hole that got drunk, took gifts that weren’t his, and drunkenly tried to get a female intoxicated and take her back to his place", but as "Ted, the cry-baby who made much ado about nothing". Life is too short to cry-baby!

  41. Toxie says:

    you know…i bet if you checked on those gift cards, they were spent…so really how bad did Ted feel? $250 dollars bad? Ted had plenty of chances to walk out, he didn’t, he had chances to not take free drinks, he didn’t, he had chances to not spned the gift cards, he didn’t…so it sounds like he WILLINGLY went along with it.

  42. IE Webmaster says:

    For the record, Ted spent the gift cards. He told the TAL producers as much, but they leave it ambiguous in their story.

  43. g says:

    The responsible thing to do would be to check the target out carefully ahead of time and debrief them afterwards.

    I don’t think you guys get Derren Brown’s "Trick of the Mind" show in the states, but when he’s planning huge scams he talks about carefully picking people who can take a joke and will not be really upset by the whole thing.

    I don’t think this prank intended to be mean, and – not having listened to the TAL story – I don’t know how traumatic it actually was. I can see how something like this targeting a random individual COULD go down badly, though.

  44. Virginia says:

    I’m not sure which is more interesting: The mission itself, That "Ted" later felt it was a negative experience, or all of the feelings expressed on this comment page.
    In the end, I think the entire thing is a fascinating experiement on people and society. I also agree with those who think everyone needs to chill out for a minute and not take things quite so seriously.

    Keep doing this important, fascinating, interesting, and just plain fun work IE =)

  45. Jack says:

    To whomever said that this made him the "laughing stock of the internet." That is simply not true. I doubt anybody reading this mission was laughing *at* "Ted."

    The entire time I was reading it, I was rooting for him to come around and have a good time, which he seemingly did. That he’d come out a year and a half later to say he was "scarred" by it is simply not true.

    Also, on the TAL show, they claimed that G.O.P. did not enjoy the Best Gig Ever. However, G.O.P. specifically stated that they *did* have a good time that night, and appreciated the show.

  46. Jeff says:

    No good deed goes unpunished.

  47. Myles says:

    The reaction to this mission, and others, really does a lot to throw into harsh light the culture of fear most of the American public seems to be living in. The fact that an unexpected display of positive attention or eccentric behavior causes fear and panic, I consider to be one of the greatest tragedies of our country.

  48. Travis says:

    As I read these comments and listen to the TAL interview, I have to wonder what it is about "Ted" that caused this to be such a heated event. Now, I don’t think that it is fair to blame "Ted" because everyone is different and have the right to like or dislike anything that they wish. However, I think most people would love to receive free gift cards and free drinks and a night of new friends. I would think that, as someone earlier said, it would be obvious that a couple dozen people would not have mistaken you as the real "Ted".That with the fact that the real "Ted" never showed up seem like it would be obvious that this was a joke that you have the privilege to be part of.
    I would have had a great time being "Ted" and I think that most people would have. At the same time I respect that "Chris" did not enjoy it. It is his right to not enjoy this.
    One last thing. Every time that we open our mouth; every time that we say hi to a stranger on the subway; anytime we act at all, we risk offending someone. That is a risk that we take by living in a society with other people.

  49. Klawzie says:

    I join in with the comments about, "Wow, reading peoples’ reactions to this is interesting." Chill out. Smile.

    I think from just looking at the photos he looks like a shy individual and I probably would not have chosen him as the target. However, at no point do I think he was selected with ill-intent (ie: not chosen to be made fun of/humiliated). It was just a choice that (apparently) was not the correct one. Amazingly enough, sometimes people don’t react well to positive attention. Weird!

    I don’t feel sorry for "Ted" at all. If he felt at all threatened, on any number of his smoke breaks he could have cut and run. He could have asked the bar’s management to help him in some way. He could have asked his friend to get a cab and break and run if he really felt trapped.

    Sucks he was a weenie about it afterwards. I would have been supremely weirded out at first and might have left and not returned. But if I’d stayed, as he did, I couldn’t possibly complain after the fact. (Though I think it’d take me longer to get used to being called "Ted" – I’m female, after all!)

    In short:
    "Ted" = Weenie and a wanker.
    IE – Good job. More care selecting who to target should be taken if you choose to do this again, however! Wouldn’t want to choose another WEENIE.

  50. ehmilio says:

    It is understandable that a person would feel startled and confused in this kind of situation, especially if they’re shy. For me, Ted’s initial reaction seemed rather normal; he refused gifts meant for another person and walked out of the bar due to the weirdness of the situation. He could have sneaked away to another bar with his friend, had he felt frightened enough by the situation. Instead, he chose to go back into the bar and play the role of Ted. Even if he did this reluctantly at first, it was evident in his behavior later that night that he made the best out of the situation by socializing with the strangers, accepting their gifts, and even hugging them. It is a pity if he decided to interpret this, possibly one of the most interesting experiences in his life, as an offense later on. This mission was never intended as a joke or a prank, it was an attempt to bring joy and wonder to an ordinary evening in a stranger’s life. One should never feel worry or fear when presenting a gift to a stranger.

  51. cje says:

    I listened to the "This American Life" segment about Ted’s B-Day party. Gotta say, I totally dig the whole Twilight Zone/Outer Limits aspect to ImprovEverywhere.

    To all you folks out there who are so uptight over IE’s antics, I say- Jeez lighten up! Doesn’t anybody remember being a kid? Doesn’t anybody remember watching a cool-ass sci-fi TV show or movie & fantasise that YOU could be the hero in this spooky haunted castle we call life? Now that we are all adults why do we have to turn into such big babies!?! Maybe if we weren’t all running around trying to think of who to sue next we could actually start to enjoy our short little lives & make them the fullest they can possibly be.

    Improvers, hey listen up, MY BIRTHDAY is Jan. 12. You can come on down here to florida & stand me as many drinks as you want, give me all the gifts (I LOVE bookstore certificates- hint hint!!!) & you can call me whatever name you like- just keep the free drinks & pool games coming!

    Kisses!

  52. mjl says:

    I just listened to the "This American Life" segment too, and honestly don’t see what all the naysayers are talking about. Nowhere does he (Chris) say that he was "traumatized" or that it was "hurtful." If anything, it’s the segment writer’s spin on it, and Chris was merely offering his own thoughts on it looking back on the event.

    That said, I also don’t understand people who are now calling him names, and trying to make him the bad guy. He really was innocent, and simply trying to cope with what he couldn’t understand was happening. Cut him some slack, ok? He didn’t ask for any of it.

    As for IE, I’ll join the chorus extolling their genius and spirit, but I agree with those who said that, in the future, missions should focus on either themselves, or hapless store clerks, and not on individuals (whose responses are completely unpredictable anyway).

  53. Jonathan, Cape Town says:

    Wow, I have just scoured the comments above and I honestly did not expect such a mixed reaction from people.

    I would have thought that IE followers would marvel at the sheer logistical genius of this group and in particular this mission.

    While ‘Ted’ may have appeared upset and confused at first I hardly think that it has damaged him in any way, psychologically or other.

    I’m sure there are many people out there who would have reacted in very different ways to this ‘Ted’, and I for one would be interested in seeing some of those reactions.

    It is only by looking at how people deal with situations like these that we can try understand ourselves…

    Well done IE… Every mission I read makes me wish that you had a faction down here in South Africa.

  54. Matt says:

    I’ve done a lot of thinking about whether something is meaningful regardless of your memories of it. Does it still matter, even if you don’t remember it? I ultimately decided it was; perhaps Chris disagrees. He certainly enjoyed himself in the latter part of the evening. I don’t think he was too angry about the experience, considering he spent the gift cards. If people are concerned about forcible mind play, they should look at the Subway Series. Ted could have walked out any time (unlike the subway riders confronted with pantless men). The fact that he didn’t shows he is NOT a weenie. It seems he felt uncomfortable after, but this was exacerbated by Ira’s Mind Games theme for the program; TAL was not unbiased, but did present a useful angle. All in all, though, I think group-on-group missions are better because no one ever has to feel alone in the strange and new experience.

  55. Trevor says:

    206? He’s a seattlite. CHEERS

  56. Gael says:

    I think that dude was drunk. I mean, you guys gave him like a billion shots and stuff! And by the end he was going along with it so much! It was still funny though. I wish I got 200and something $$$ in gift cards from total strangers when it’s not even my b-day! Haha. ^.^

    P.S. I just want to put out there that smoking is VERY BAD!!!! Think about it this way, all it is, is paying for cancer! And there are faster cooler ways to die… just letting all u people who read this know that. Oh, and drinking isnt excactly good eather…

    ^.^

  57. Harry (Callahan) says:

    "You are hurting people, people who may be vulnerable and unable to process your incredibly thoughtless idiocy. Exploiting others for your own gain is the highest crime second only to physical violence or murder.

    QUIT fucking people up…"

    I’m sorry, the face absurdity of that comment just has me in stitches.

    "Officer, we’ve found the victim! He was… given a party and $250 worth of gifts."
    "Oh my God… it never ends."

    The exploitation bit is lulz too. I wonder how Marx would’ve reacted if the working class of his time had been given surprise parties?

  58. Aphex says:

    As for the comments about the agents depicting "Ted" in a negative light, that’s complete bullshit.

    They were simply reporting what happened and giving their opinion of the guy.

    Obviously the only reason he stayed was because he felt he could get something out of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. He used IE for free drinks, IE used him for a gag. If he felt bad about it later then that’s really too bad since there was no reason to.

    As for the comment about mugging.. holy fuck what kind of retard would think 27 people would hatch an elaborate plot to mug a single guy. I’m pretty sure we don’t have roving gangs of theives. Just actors with too much time on their hands.

    The whole fucking point of a prank is to mess with people’s minds. Every single mission has confused or suprised someone.

    Why aren’t you bitching about the slo-mo prank. Those other shoppers could have been thinking they were trapped in a space-time rip and start to panic?! That’s about as fucking ridiculous as a 27 person mugging.

    I should start my own missions except make them darker and about exposing how pathetic and full of shit we all are. Fucking cry babies bitching about giving cake and presents to a stranger.

    Wahhhhhhh :(

  59. Clark says:

    IE, you should celebrate "Ted"’s birthday every year. Just add one more year to his age and continue on the stories about the past parties.

  60. David says:

    Heard the "This American Life". You guys are totally self-centered.

    Getting on a train without pants is one thing but toying with an individuals mentality and overwhelming them with a fictional social scene is dangerous.

    Next time you pull a stunt like this let’s hope you don’t pick some completely mentally unstable who goes off and jumps off a bridge. Call me a spoil-sport but there are people who are unable to cope with such reality fucking.

    Good thing you didn’t choose me because I would have smashed a bottle in your face and told you to get the hell away from me. Those pictures would look great on this website.

  61. Stewie says:

    Yes, David. You smashing a bottle into the faces of a bunch of improvisors WOULD look great on this website.

    But I think that the pictures of you being raped in a medium security prison, while serving time for aggrivated assault would look way better up here.

    Get a life you pathetic paranoid freak. Or, even better, make like the "mental unstable" you are, and go jump off that bridge.

  62. Ian says:

    Had this happened to me, it would’ve made my evening.

  63. ULM says:

    I haven’t heard the TAL story yet, but it’s a bummer that Chris didn’t seem to take it as a positive experience- it seemd to me to be a whimsicla and good-hearted attempt to injetc a little fun, and though I might havelet him in on it at some point afterwards (so as not to completely freak the guy out), it was still not a mean spirited prank, and was a pretty cool experience, you would think.

  64. Jasmine says:

    I think it’s genius. At any point "Ted" could have removed himself from the situation (IE was ready to find another "Ted," they were not forcing him to stay!). Every prank show on TV does all it can to humiliate, shock, and disgust people, and IE is simply trying to bring a little joy into lives of endless monotony. It’s too bad that "Ted" didn’t enjoy it as much as he could have, but when it comes down to it he DID accept the gifts, drinks, and attention, so it’s nobody’s fault but his own if he has some kind of problem. After they wouldn’t stop badgering him about being "Ted" he could have walked out the door, but he didn’t.

  65. a fan says:

    This site has given me heartier laughs than even The Onion. But this prank was flawed in its design. For it to work out, it required the unwitting participant, from his perspective, to screw a bunch of strangers over. "Chris" had a good angel on one shoulder telling him to be honest to everybody, and an army of demons on the other shoulder constantly pushing him to take advantage of you. He kept leaving to go outside, because he was edgy that the real "Ted" might show up. He never thought he was "Ted". In his mind, he was taking everybody for a ride. The publicity he’s received since, while everybody sees it in a fun light, is really an exposure of his evil act. Which is why he publicly stated he was traumatized by the prank. He isn’t traumatized. He feels guilty. But he should take it in stride, because, we all do bad things sometimes, and it took alot of effort to break him.

  66. Ken says:

    I’d have found the whole thing great fun. I think most people would have.

    So, "Ted" didn’t. I don’t think IE can be held responsible for a reaction few people would have had.

    And by the way, I’m shy about approaching people. But that would have made me enjoy the positive attention much more.

  67. liana says:

    did you guys do this again a few weeks ago?

  68. Nick says:

    I think some of you people REALLY need to lighten up.

    Kate, o.t… anyone else who views the Improv Everywhere Agents as cruel hearted people taking advantage of others for their own pleasure… you really, REALLY need to lighten up, take a step back, turn off those stupid biased TV docu-dramas and look at things through a common sense point of view.

    In this case… we have “Ted”. Apparently, “Ted” was disturbed by this mission.

    He had no problem trying to drunken Agent Delfino and bring her back to this apartment… apparently playing “Ted” was going to work out to get him laid, as he said to his friend, overheard by Agent Maestro…

    “I overheard Ted saying to his friend, “We are going to get laid tonight”.”

    Not so innocent after all, huh? He’s PROBABLY just ashamed that his effort to score failed and happened to be broadcast on the internet. Too bad none of us knew his real name until “This American Life” outed him. I guess he really wasn’t too worried about that after all, then, since he WENT ON THE SHOW.

    Seriously. Improv Everywhere is doing nothing wrong. They’re spicing up life. They’ve not hurt ANYBODY.

    Anyone who thinks that Improv Everywhere is screwing people up… you’re probably the same people who think Teachers shouldn’t grade papers in red pen, who think that parents shouldn’t spank their misbehaven children, who think that people are these fragile beings that even the slightest disturbance can molest their mind for life.

    The only reason that people end up this way is BECAUSE of people like you, who believe that anything is cured with a law suit.

    Charlie Todd, and Improv Everywhere… keep it up. You do AMAZING work. You give people stories to tell. You do good things for people, even when they turn around and stab you in the back.

    What do people want more than a hero? To see a hero fail, die trying. Correct?

  69. Skandranon says:

    The negative reviews on here, about how Ted was “victimized” and “traumatized”, remind me of a sidewalk artist I encountered once. He was offering people $20, but they had to perform first. He had them do all sorts of embarrassing, uncomfortable things, such as rubbing their nipples, crawling around on the ground, taking their shirts off, and dumping crushed ice over their head. To get attention from the crowd when work was slow, he’d potshot bypassers with a water gun.

    Yeah, not seeing how free gifts, free beer, free cake, and free hugs measures up to “traumatizing”.

    Otherwise, I thought this scene was great, and in the true spirit of IE. “Make a memorable experience, make someone smile.” Congrats and kudos, and hope to see many more.

  70. Joe says:

    If you ask me the comments were at least as funny as the actual mission. I have just spet the last half of an hour in hysterics over people overeacting to this. Ted seems to have reacted to this as anyone might have if they were surrounded by total strangers and were under the influence of several “Kamikazes”, so there is no harm there. Additionally if he was mentally scarred by this experience, it was probably exacerbated by being widely broadcast on the radio. Anyway, if the goal of IE is to shock and amuse, both the mission and the following comments have done just that.

  71. Beth says:

    I heard about this prank on an old this american life show and had an almost visceral reaction to it. You are not giving someone “the best night of their life”, you’re exploiting people for your amusement. Both this and the band episodes, are horrible– unless someone is extroverted/self assured, memories of these nights will not be excellent ones for people, but more likely a source of embarrassment, possibly of humiliation. I don’t know the organizer of this, but he came off on the radio as an insensitive, oblivious, self-obsessed jerk.

  72. Alli says:

    All these people saying that this is “exploiting people” are nuts, and I can’t believe This American Life (which I enjoy) would cast this in a negative light. Wow, I’m sort of angry now.

  73. Jeff says:

    I find it ironic that someone who is the first one that says ‘ok buy me a kamikaze’ and then proceeds to have fun all night long, and insists people don’t leave after FOUR hours suddenly gets traumatized almost a year later. While I agree the G.o.P. was close to the line, but this was fun and 99% of all people in the world would have loved this.

    Anyone with half a brain or an IQ above -2 would have realized what was going on. He had a good time, he accepted the gifts, ate the cake, played the pool, drank the free drinks and got into the spirit of it, just as anyone should have. Now HE’S the one humiliating himself by saying all this crap about the night a while later.

    Having said that to all the idiots who have posted saying this is cruel, I certainly do agree with 2 (and ONLY 2) of the suggestions that have been made.
    1) Probably not a good idea to continue with the prank after the night ended, such as seeing him on the street and calling him Ted or calling him multiple times even out to a year afterwards, for instance being asked about the next year’s party.
    2) They should have told him after the night was over who they were. Based on him staying instead of leaving only proves one thing: He decided it had to be staged because nobody in their right mind would have stayed otherwise. Nonetheless, he should have been told just in case he is a mental patient like everyone else who posted negative remarks on this page.

  74. TaraBeara says:

    So, anyways, Chris SO needed to pull the stick out of his ass and just enjoy the fact that a bunch of really nice people gave him a chance to have a great time outside of sitting in the corner of a bar drinking and drooling over women he and his friend will never have. I just guess he was so drunk by the time he started having fun that he doesn’t really remember that part. It just goes to show how boring nyc really is and thank you for trying to put a little animation back in the robots that walk the city streets. I’ll be your target any day.

  75. Urg says:

    I think we’er missing something very important here.

    First, even though Ted had initially had a good time, overall he sees it as a negative experience. I personally would have loved to have been in his shoes that night, but I wasn’t. The reaction he had is his own, and I have to respect that. I would say, though, that the mission design created a high probability for making the experience uncomfortable in the long run for its intendee, for a few reasons which are not initially obvious.

    Ted could have responded in roughly three ways. He could have played along with it as Ted, not played along with it by letting everyone know that he wasn’t Ted, or removed himself from the situation. Two of the responses are what most people would consider to be morally right, and playing along by accepting money which he believes to be meant for someone else is in most people’s eyes morally wrong.

    Now, Ted tried to do the right thing. He told the agents that he was not Ted multiple times. He also tried to remove himself from the situation. Now, some have argued that he could have left completely, but I’ll show you why that was difficult. In the end, his attempts to do the right thing were thwarted, and he ended up following the morally wrong path.

    Ted was placed into a moral double bind by the agents. When he told them that he wasn’t Ted, they refused to accept it, and used several different methods to make it ineffective. When he tried to remove himself from the situation, the agents brought the situation out to him while he was trying to clear his head.

    Now, I do agree that he could have hailed a cab and gotten out of it, but he was still morally bound to stay there. Why? For one, he had all of those people in the bar who still thought he was Ted, and leaving without resolving the situation may have meant trouble for the real birthday boy (even though there wasnt one, Ted didn’t know it) when he finally arrived. Second, he had all those gift cards which, had he left them on the bench, would have not made it to their intended recipient. And the gifts kept coming, even while he was trying to sort all this out.

    That he agreed to go back into the bar may have been his attempt to rectify the situation. Or it may have been his decision to progress down the third and morally unjust path. The free drinks and good times eased the way. And with alcohol comes a lowering of defense mechanisms, rendering his further resistance futile.

    The fact that he used the gift cards just shows us that he’s trying to defend his sense of worth through cognitive dissonance. It obviously wasn’t enough.

    Now how many people have had a good time under the influence of alcohol, only to fell bad about what they did the next morning. Many have (for evidence, refer to the last time you made the walk of shame). How many people would feel guilty after they had stolen, even inadvertently, someone else’s birthday presents? Most would (for evidence, dig up the doll you buried in the backyard after you stole it from your sister’s birthday party and were too scared to play with it – it;s time to give it back to her, you perv). And how many people would feel initially elated but subsequently horrible when a bunch of people have plied you with good times and drink on the pretext that you’re something that you’re not? Most would (for evidence, see Alleged Cocaine vs. Lohan and most other celebrity meltdowns).

    So in this mission, the target was cajoled into doing things he would not normally do which were morally wrong in his mind. Two things would have prevented him from walking away with a negative experience. First, having the participation be completely voluntary (without guuilting him into it), as someone who starts something he knows is morally wrong in the first place is likely to be well-adjusted enough to deal with the consequences. Second, to debrief him afterward, revealing the sham, thus relieving the double bind.

    Most of IE’s missions have the voluntary participation built in, so most of the time, the results are guilt free. Those with involuntary participation, like the cell phone symphony, are ao outlandish that the target knows he is being set up. (BTW, the hypnosis missions are borderline at best and may spell trouble if repeated in the future.)

    Why do I care? Because I really love IE and would hate to see it get sued by some poor sap who felt used. Or by some enterprising attorney looking at some big-shot NBC show stars. Watch out guys, your fame will come with a price. Don’t let stuff like this shoot you down.

  76. Jess says:

    I can see everything here from everyone’s point of view. I can see that it could be a bit overwhelming to be put in that situation, sure.
    But I absolutely refuse to believe that if someone didn’t want to stay that he/she would have been somehow FORCED to stay. Those insisting that Ted was a manipulated, weak-willed, and sobbing huddled mess in a corner of the bar while people yelled, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TED!” at him are a bit naiive.
    This is SOLELY my opinion, but… a shy person recovering from the tragic insult and injury of public manipulation doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who’s going to offer himself out to TAL if he “doesn’t want or deserve to be recognized in public” as someone else commented earlier.
    I haven’t had the opportunity to hear the TAL episode, but from what I’ve heard, six months down the road Ted suddenly became “disturbed” and “traumatized”? I just can’t bring myself to believe that $250 and a birthday cake with some cheerful onlookers would TRAUMATIZE anyone.
    People, pack up your “POOR CHRIS” protest posters, and get a sense of humor.

  77. Chris says:

    Hey,

    Just started getting into IE, love this kind of stuff. I do things like this myself in Scotland, although it is usually more spur-of-the-moment and involving myself and one or two others.

    Anyways, re: the whole “trauma” issue – I think a better tweak on this mission would have been to have a friend of yours out with some drinks with his friends (people who hopefully know nothing about IE), then everyone comes in and showers your friend with gifts and calls him by a different name while he feigns bewilderment.

    This means your friend would be in on the joke and wouldn’t be “tramatized”, and his friends would be the fall-guys of the jokes in that they would be all “what the hell, Frank, why are these people calling you Ted and giving you birthday gifts”.

    I can’t personally comment on this mission as I wasn’t there, but it is something I would have personally loved being done on me. There is no way for me to form an unbiased opinion from solely your writings, but I do think a line has been crossed when you make a Civilian the centre of a Mission as opposed to an Agent. I can see why it seemed like a good idea, but I think my above suggestion is a more thoughtful one. People like being part of a joke, but not so much being the joke themselves. It’s like the old cliche – “We’re laughing with ya, not at ya” – only in reverse.

    From your writings though, it seems like after a few drinks everything turned into a nice night out with a bunch of strangers, like pretty much every night at the pub, only with one person walking home $250 the richer (or was that two people walking home with $125? :P).

    Anyway – I’ll come down off my soapbox now!

  78. Lilu says:

    Sounds like some of the people from 2005 need to get a life-apparently the kid who was targeted in this as well. He got off with $250 free, for gods sakes. Boy needs to relax.

    I’m 20 and I’d probably be partying right back with you guys if something insane like that happened.

    Loosening up is good for you. And the US needs a LOT of loosening.

  79. Nickles says:

    On comment to end them all:

    This was hilarious, stop feeling sorry for the guy who could have ended it all by pulling out his ID/Drivers’ License.

  80. Devin Bowie Brown says:

    You people all refer to this as a “Joke being played.” All the opposition comes from people who don’t like the idea of being the “butt end of a joke”.
    That mentality itself is so demeaning.

    Exactly what personal weakness is being exploited in throwing a surprise party for a stranger? How could something as definitively impersonal as this be interpreted as an attack? Sure it puts someone in a strange position, but what the hell is wrong with that? If you think its damaging to have unique experiences, even uncomfortably strange experiences, then I’d advise returning to your 9-to-5 and letting those of us with any kind of positive outlook on being alive be so.

    If you really believe that people are so inherently weak as to be disposed to crumbling and having an inexplicable emotional breakdown at the first sight of oddity, then I question just what it is you’re looking to get out of life.

  81. Sunatic says:

    I agree that it would have been nicer for “Ted” to fill him in on the joke afterwards, so it would have become clear to him that the gifts really were intended for him and that he could keep them. That way he could have laughed about the bizarreness of it all instead of being just confused, unsure and guilty.

  82. Jia says:

    “Ted”‘s reaction could be an example of Stockholm Syndrome.

  83. Nick says:

    T’would be awsome if you could track Ted down and do it AGAIN and on the same day

  84. VBatt says:

    If “Ted” felt so guilty (which honestly we’re all projecting on him) why not donate the gift certificates to charity. I can think of plenty of tutoring programs that need books or computer accessories. And really, who’s to say he didn’t?

    Leting him in on the joke at the end of the night certainly would have been a good move. Maybe he could have been a new IE recruit instead of being the butt of TAL’s crying wolf.

  85. Klaatu says:

    Why did he not leave?

    Because he needed to stay where there were witnesses.
    After all, 27 demonstrably psychotic strangers had ganged up
    on him. Who knows what they might have done to him had
    they managed to get him alone.

    If you think I’m being paranoid, google for “happy slapping”, and see how a bunch of fun-loving kids
    chose a stranger to star in their snuff film.

    Ok, so you may not be psychopaths. He didn’t know that.

    There are seriously weird people out there. If you had
    encountered any (I have), you would think twice about
    how a lame stunt like this might appear to a victim
    who might not be the kind of oblivious oaf you all
    come off as.

    Have a nice day :~|

  86. virgil says:

    I’ve never seen a “happy slapping” video that starts out with a friendly group of people buying the victim drinks, presents, and cake, and warmly wishing them a happy birthday over the course of a long, amiable evening.

    2 things:

    1- however uncomfortable he was, he could have left, and in fact did. He chose to come back, and from all appearances, had a great time.

    2-IE: Do a little more prep work, and you probably won’t have this kind of situation.

  87. Jennifer says:

    Wow.

    I read this mission a year or so ago and came back to the IE website to see the newly listed Frozen Grand Central Station Mission. I started reading the missions again and came upon this whole. Dr. Phil unlocks the secrets of the human psyche, drama-fest.

    Yeah, the guy was uncomfortable. That was clear. He wasn’t having a good time. He was uneasy. Everyone was ready to pack up and head home. Time to find someone else.

    And then he did a 180 and became a new guy (Ted?). He changed. He had fun. He laughed and drank and partied for four hours.

    And everyone well home, end of story, except not.

    Guess what? A year or so later, “Ted” changed again. Seems to me the TAL story was par for the course.This guy has a habit of doing things like that. That and chain smoking. Maybe the issue isn’t with IE, maybe it’s with a guy who has no confidence to take one path and continue with it.

    IE, keep up the great work. I’m not going to give advice as to what you should or shouldn’t do. That would be shallow and judgmental of me to look at one story, draw my own conclusion and then project my feeling onto you. I wouldn’t be considering all sides, including yours and in fact, the whole experience could leave you traumatized years later.

  88. Chris L says:

    (oh I almost posted this before remembering that I have the same name as the target. I am NOT, in fact, the “Ted” Chris.)

    It is certainly interesting how polarizing this mission became. While, yes, I understand that no physical harm ever came to “Ted,” as someone who does tend to get anxious and panicky in social situations I could empathize with his being uncomfortable and maybe even bitter afterwards about the whole situation.

    One of the most interesting things about this is the moral decision that “Ted” had to make. I think at some point would realize that these people who mistake me for someone else have no intention of leaving the bar or me alone. Sure everyone is being nice, but they’re also giving me someone else’s birthday gifts. So to stay at a bar that I have every right to be at, I have to steal hundreds of dollars worth of birthday presents?

    Okay, so I decide to stay. I mean hey I’ve always wanted lots of friends, lots of attention. Now I finally have it. But, its not really me they’re looking at and showering with affection. Its Ted they see. I know I’m not Ted. Ted, apparently, is just like me only he’s leading some wonderful alternate life that I don’t actually have. What is Ted doing right that I’m not?

    If you have a depressive personality, then yea, the internal dialog can easily snowball out of control.

    So while I do kinda feel sorry for the guy, the hypothetical psychological effects are just too damn good to make me feel bad for him for very long. Its unfortunate that sometimes you get casualties when experimenting with social and psychological interactions, but that’s just how it works out sometimes. Maybe he should have been let in on the joke at the end of the night, even though its against the rules. Since he did eventually fall into the role and enjoy it at the time, maybe he would have agreed to being Agent “Ted” in later missions rather than Traumatized Chris on TAL.

    I can’t help but wonder if the mission would have turned out differently if Harry had been singled out rather than Chris. I guess its the red hair that made him the obvious choice, since its easy to recognize.

  89. Guillaume says:

    I think it’s ridiculous for anyone to claim that “Ted” came to harm that night. Why? This one quote:

    Agent Maestro
    I overheard Ted saying to his friend, “We are going to get laid tonight”.

    It’s obvious that he warmed up to the situation and decided to try to take advantage of it. What more is there to say? He had a good time, clearly.

  90. james says:

    From all the missions I’ve read, whenever IE targets a specific random individual or a small unknown group, the results are very mixed and people writing comments here get very riled up and a few feathers get ruffled.

    I see two ways to guarantee a successful mission involving a specific target:

    1) Make sure the target knows at least one agent personally.
    OR
    2) Make sure the target is aware of Improv Everywhere’s existence.

    For the latter, it would be ideal to hand the person an Improv Everywhere business card on their way out. Then they would know they have been pranked.

  91. Lucifer says:

    It seems you are all missing the point.This is an open lab in sociology/psychology. “Ted” was only first stage. The humor, the rage, the support….everything your posting is solid gold to an observer!
    To quote Jack Higgins in his book “Drink with the Devil”, “Are you playing the game, or is the game playing you?”
    If “Ted” was victimized and traumatized, he should be counting himself lucky that there was no malice in the situation in which he found himself(like a phobia of circles, frightening but the danger is not real, only falsely perceived.).
    And lastly, I would ask why he didn’t just flash his ID? If I am told I am not who I am, it’s the first thing I would do to clear up the misunderstanding.

  92. Caitlyn says:

    LOL! I was really impressed with Ted’s ability to find his “character” and stay there all night! Maybe he’d make a good agent…? :P

  93. anonimouse says:

    nothing he could do would convince them he wasn’t ted
    leaving the situation would disappoint all these people and reflect badly on ted
    staying disappointed ted when he didn’t get the gifts or party his friends intended

    his duty to play along but keep an eye out so he could run when ted got there

    I would be utterly TERRIFIED because it’s a lose, lose, lose, situation

  94. Jenny says:

    You are all staying character~
    That’s not easy for Agents, yet quite hard for Ted.
    This is a really interesting and suprising mission.
    If I were Ted, I would feel like winning lottery or something.

  95. Rachel says:

    I know it’s much after the fact but I’ve stayed up all night on this site, I love everything you guys do. It’s almost too bad you have to do it in America, which contains some of the most fearful people on the planet. In a country where you cannot start a nice, idle conversation with someone while in an elevator, or waiting for the bus because you might whip out your genitals or stab them with a knife, I’m not surprised an event like this would get this kind of reaction.

    I can understand being outraged at shoes who work hard to make sure people are upset or annoyed – some things done are cruel. BUT this was possibly the nicest thing I’ve heard done for a stranger!

    To the people who say ‘Ted” did a 180 a year later because of guilt over taking the real Ted’s gifts, please tell me how a reasonable, intelligent person can believe that “Ted” could think NEARLY THIRTY PEOPLE all mistaken him for the same person. After the tenth one, I would have suspected something…after the twentieth, I believe the idea would come to mind that there is no Ted and this was all staged for me. I myself have social anxiety so I can understand Ted’s original reaction…but the promise of free drinks, free cake, free money (seriously), and a bunch of new people that could possibly become friends? I’d have worked through it.

    It’s unfortunate that such a warm and wonderful “prank” had to be played on such a person.

  96. Mr. Brightside says:

    After reading this list of comments and reactions I am more convinced than ever that a good amount of the population, in this case the ones that watched TAL, are being brain washed by the tube. enough said.

  97. That's Fucked Up says:

    http://thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=286

    Improv Everywhere in crowds is great. Messing with an individual’s mind is cruel.

  98. Leo says:

    I think people need to lighten up a bit. If Ted fealt he was really messed with, he probably would have left and no one would’ve stopped him.

    Unless you are being held captured, nobody can “mess with your mind” unless you let them…playing a trick on someone isn’t the same as “messing”, because “messing” implies a negative experience, while Ted obviously quite enjoyed the experience…

  99. Steve says:

    I cant believe all the people who condemn this stunt. Its hilarious. ‘Ted’ was free to leave at any time and almost did. But I bet at some point he and Harry had a chat and said ‘why not take the gifts and drinks and have a good time’. He took a conscious decision to stay having paid his bill and going outside only to return.
    My bet is that he has said it distressed him, etc, because once people found out from here that he had in the end went along with it and took the gifts he felt bad about it and had to try to make an excuse for HIS actions.
    I tell you what though – this could have been SOOOO much funnier if you were able to get an agent to play the part of Ted’s girlfriend and be quite ‘forward’ with him. lol

  100. Mr. Brown says:

    I think this mission was awesome. If someone would come up to me saying that it was my birthday I guess I’d refuse on the first few gifts and later get into it or leave. Only if I get into the thing I will not belive that I am “Ted” but that someone is pulling a prank-or better too say a joke- on me.

    Seriously these guys here did nothing harmfull. Imagine if 15 -at the moment of arrival even sober- guys/girls walked up to you cheering all happy. Yeah they belive you are someone you are not, but who cares if they don’t get it, you told them didn’t you os its time to go friendly on them. (Stress here is on the fact that they didn’t arrive all drunk, wasted, stoned or under the affect of any kind of “drug” aka safe company and you can deduct, KNOW that they KNOW what they are doing.)
    Afterwards I can’t realy imagine why would anyone turn this out to be a stressfull night if they enjoyed themselves. That’s useless and just making something positive into a negative experience. If you think about it on a night out many worse things can happen, other than getting gifts, and being called by the wrong name. (E.g.: I myself was almost stabed one time because of a heavily drunk guy and a knocked over beer)

    So at the end i think “Ted” just couldn’t cope with the change in his life… I guess it was like the Best Hypnotist joke’s most stressy moment of not knowing what to do TIMES a few hour for him, till he got used to it.

    For the people who feel hurt by any of these jokes of targeting one certain person or a relatively small group. Imagine GoP or this guy’s situ, you are a rock band and you enter to a cheering crowd, you get birthday presents from guys you don’t know, on a day when you might even be realy down. These are the things that make a life worth of happyness which you didn’t count on, surprises out of blue. (BTW:Don’t use words like brain washing, thats usualy a negative experience including long time stress, not like a birthday cake I recon)

    I say nice job IE you can pull this one on me if you are in Belgium anytime in the future :)

    BTW: Its cool you didn’t do anything like the girlfriend stuff mentioned above in the comments, that might have been embarassing.

  101. Brian says:

    I read about this mission and thought it was great, but then the comments directed me to the ATL interview and I listened to it, and changed my mind. Here’s the point: if Chris says that what happened to him upset him, the conversation stops there. No one else is allowed to say that it was right or wrong for IE to attempt something like this, or argue over the good intentions therein. Chris was traumatized. For Charlie to insist that the fact that he had a good time that night overpowers how Chris has felt about it ever since is psychotically insensitive. How creepy is it that Charlie says, “I don’t care what you say. That night rocked your world?” Y’know what a line like that sounds like out of context? Yeah you do. It sounds like something a rapist in denial would say. Way to go, Charlie. Way to go.

    I don’t exactly blame the group for doing what they did, but for not to be ashamed in its aftermath is sickening.

  102. Charlie Todd says:

    @Brian,

    What is not made clear in the TAL piece is that I had no idea how Chris felt about it. He hugged me goodbye at the end of the night and the first time I heard his voice again was two and half years later on This American Life. They hadn’t interviewed him yet when they spoke to me. The editing of the program makes it seem like I’m responding to what he says, but I’m not. I’m responding to how he reacted that night. I knew through the bartender that he didn’t want to do it a second time, but I had no idea he considered the whole thing to be a traumatic experience. All of that was news to me when I listened to TAL the first time. But that shows the power of editing and suggestion in the media. They also suggest that he didn’t spend the $300 in gift cards, but a TAL producer later told me he did, just not right away. It just worked best for their story to imply he didn’t spend them.

    Anyway, thanks for comparing me to a rapist!

  103. Joel Aarhus says:

    one guy at work called me Chuck for a few hours (he knew my real name) and i still answered to it weeks later. I would be playing along within 10 minutes even if they weren’t giving me stuff. everyone should have at least one completely wacky thing happen to them before they die.

  104. I Love ImprovEverywhere says:

    You people that think IE was messing with this guy should get lives. Seriously, they weren’t trying to hurt him. And who doesn’t want to be showered with gift cards? fo srs.

  105. Lou Sifer says:

    You know, These guys ‘Harry’ & ‘Chris’ or ‘Ted 1 & 2′ should stop whining! Harry, was just the friend – of the “guest of honor” that night and I’m sure everything was all good with the free drinks & all the ladies shooting the s**t with them. They both had a great enough time that night to accept everyones gifts, they even went along with the made up relationships, and even tried to get a 3way goin with one of the agents that night!
    Guaranteed they laughed about it for days as they ran to the store to cash in on the gifts!
    There was a comment on here made by someone who actually knew ‘Harry’… the comment stated that the guy was going to RAG on him about getting this ‘OH SO UNFORTUNATE’ prank pulled on them. I’m sure thats why the whole story came out on TAL months later…
    EMBARRASSMENT! Can’t handle your REAL friends actually making fun of you, because IE did not do that!
    There’s so many people in the world who live life saying they wish something GREAT could happen to them and I bet Chris has always been one of these guys! Well Chris, you had something great happen to you, probably something better than you will ever have in your entire life!

  106. FullCircle says:

    This would be cool if it had been done not in a “let’s find some guy and make him believe that either he’s insane or we are” way…. Like what about a “Best Day Ever” where you randomly to choose some stranger to shower with gifts, drinks, games, good company, and cheer? You couldn’t tell them who you were or why you were doing it, but just “Hey Alice! Today is YOUR best day ever!”

    BTW, there is no way knowing how Chris really feels. TAL actually holds its popularity by being controersial, which it does through very create and careful questioning and editting. Chris is probably sitting somewhere completely ticked off that they made him seem like a Trauma Queen.

    All I can say is, I loved the idea of this prank until I read the reports. It just seemed like he was sticking it out to see how it would all end.

    As for him having a choice to leave….

    “While Ted did leave the bar, he didn’t go far. He and Harry hung out on the street chain-smoking for a good ten minutes while several agents talked with him. Agent Spencer was able to slowly calm him down (while staying in character), and Agent Good was able to get him back in the bar ”

    Sounds like there wasn’t really choice because Agents followed him out to “calm him” and “get him back in the bar”. It’s called peer pressure, and all of us, even when we don’t want to, manage to cave to it.

    I think it was a good idea with a weak plan, and honestly, Charlie, I really hope to see some version of this again someday, with a better plan in place. The Best Gig Ever was okay. The Best Game Ever was just awesome. Tehy get better and better. So maybe next time you just honour a random stranger for being THEM and not for being “Ted”. It would really rock to see someone get rewarded just for being.

    …..And isn’t THAT what IE is supposed to be all about?

  107. Naomi says:

    Does anyone notice Ted looks like that nerdy kid from The Breakfast Club?

  108. PaulieB says:

    Hmrmm. This one was a little cruel. Sort of bullying this guy. Looks like Ted ended up enjoying the evening, but it could easily have gone south if he’d reacted negatively. If this happened to me…I don’t know. I can’t decide if I’d embrace it and enjoy the evening, or just leave and go somewhere else, leaving you all there open-mouthed with your dumb identical gift vouchers wondering how a “harmless prank” had left me so confused and upset. Try targeting groups in future rather than individuals, whom you can easily intimidate without meaning to (especially since you were all so unnaturally eager to buy him drinks and kick his ass at pool all evening, making everyone seem somewhat deranged, or maybe lobotomised).

    As I said, in this case it seems Ted enjoyed his night out, but I don’t think you’d have cared much about him if he’d just fled within 30 seconds.

  109. wonderland says:

    Kind of like the Joe Schmo show. And though I enjoy IE, I agree that in the end, he should’ve been told of what happened that night… whether it was the next day, same night or whatever.

    It was an awesome mission nonetheless! I just think IE should think about putting themselves in the shoes of the guy. I mean, not just think of the $250 gifts and cards but also the context. Imagine getting caught with a bad day or imagine if you were a shy person, you wouldn’t know what to do.

    Again, nice idea, nice concept. But the debriefing. :D

  110. Seni says:

    I thought this one was the best one yet! Throwing a birthday party for a stranger is absolutely genius. I really doubt receiving +100 in gift cards and an awesome night at a bar(with cake even!) could have a traumatic effect on anyone. Sure you’d be bewildered but you could laugh it off a day later and who doesn’t need a break from the everyday monotony?

  111. Johnobrow says:

    If Ted is the victim of anything it’s the media portraying him as being traumatized and what not. That makes a better story than a guy who had quite an enjoyable night but then got a little bit freaked out by it. Who wants to hear about that? He didn’t go and admit himself to some sort of mental institute. Way to blow it of proportion all those sayin that IE should be ashamed of themselves and that they’re evil heartless bastards who get a sick kick out of messing with people’s minds and find pleasure out of doing irreparable psychological damage. Yeash!

  112. simone says:

    we had a discussion about this prank in class today.

  113. Casey says:

    Honestly, “Ted” sounds like sort of a douche himself with the whole “we are so gonna get laid” tonight comment. Doesn’t sound too victimized to me.

  114. ComeonTed says:

    The guy who interviewed him on TAL was sooo melodramatic.

    The uproar about this is ridiculous. He didn’t have to have a “180” and decide to stick around for the free drinks, gift cards, and possible “lay.

    The inability to laugh at ourselves is one thing that is damaging our county.

    This guy and that band take themselves WAY too seriously.

  115. Bonnie says:

    oh my giddy aunt people, as the honourable joker would say “why so serious?” step out of the box for once in your freaking lives and just laugh when something is funny. God people are way too p.c these days.

    to me, it looked as if Ted figured it out and just played along, he was a good sport. Go ted!

  116. Lynn says:

    That is seriously awesome. I wish I could be part of this kind of thing. I love the idea of “all the world’s a stage” being put into action in real life. This is incredibly cool.
    I think anyone who says that’s mean is retarded. Ted had fun, a lot of free beer, and 250 bucks in gift cards! I doubt that he is to terribly traumatized by it. :) Especially since, hey, everybody has a surprise birthday party sometime, right? some people are just surprised that they are named Ted. and that today’s their birthday. :)

  117. Keeely Guest says:

    This is just, funny!!!!!!!!!

    I would have loved to have been Ted. I just think its brilliant.
    Can you imagine when he told people the story after?
    LOL

    goood work guys – again (Y)
    x

  118. Kirara says:

    Oh my. This is like…the nicest thing EVER. Ted will remember his unplanned birthday party and all the friends he didn’t know he had for the rest of his life. And I’m sure the memory will always make him smile =D

    That said, I wish I was Ted…LOL

  119. Tabler says:

    The people calling “Ted” negative names are responding to those who are on TAL’s side and believe that IE is playing mind games. I don’t see why you would have to say anything negative against Ted. Ted is *not* your target.

    Neither is IE, however. I don’t see how this can be traumatizing for Ted, especially after 6? months later. Also, people are saying that IE messed with someone who is mentally unstable. Where’d you get that from? Oh, from the TAL? I never watched it myself, but IE wouldn’t know if they were messing with someone who was mentally unstable, and perhaps, TAL just said that he was for publicity.

  120. Happy says:

    You know, in the ‘Hug Patrol’ mission people were calling IE deceptive and manipulative for using an agent instead of a complete individual.

  121. VanillaCreme says:

    I personally think tht “ted” had a great time. he could’ve left any time he wanted, and he chose to stay. he went with it and obviously had a good time. how traumatizing is it to get all those gift cards, free drinks, etc.? i woulda luvd it! another mission accomplished IE. great job!

  122. Aurjay says:

    I read the story on IE and think that it would have been a great time. I then see the the negative comments coming from the TAL episode. I normally love TAL and think they just got this wrong. What I dont get is how “Ted” couldn’t have realized that it was a joke. You have 30+ sober people all thinking you are someone else. You show them your ID and they still don’t beleive you. I mean come on wouldn’t that have been obvious it was some kind of joke or hidden camera. Which is why i think in the end he just went along with it. As for comparing Chris to a rapist WTF people listen to the interview he was only quoting what the lead singer of the band eventually said about their IE experience. Yes I do think IE rocked “Ted’s” world and hopefully one day he will realize it too.

  123. blogshop says:

    I would have loved to have been Ted.

  124. blogshop says:

    uy him drinks and kick his ass at pool all evening

  125. Tedder says:

    Holy mackeral–it was funny, and heartwarming. Yes it messes with people, that’s kind of the point. Just a matter of time til somebody on the comments page compared it to “murder”. Man oh man– Are there like, only a half dozen people on the internet? there’s always some guy on every website everywhere, comparing everything to murder. Any minute now, somebody will be comparing it to the Nazis.

  126. OhhDear says:

    You are all staying character~
    That’s not easy for Agents, yet quite hard for Ted.
    This is a really interesting and suprising mission.
    If I were Ted, I would feel like winning lottery or something.

  127. OhhDear says:

    Made me laugh like crazy. Also made me wonder about human psychology. Hopefully and luckily ‘Ted’ is someone with a strong sound mind or else it could have turned ugly or have negative effects on ‘Ted’.

  128. Jessica says:

    DAMN that’s funny. And awesome. I would have loved to have that happen to me (I would definitely suspect a prank after the tenth person, seriously!) it just sucks how “Ted” went about things afterwards.

    I think it’s a marvellous idea, just perhaps a poor choice of person. Mayhaps Harry would’ve been a better sport about it.

  129. Stephen says:

    “It actually was his real number, as I found out the next day after dialing *67 and the 206 area code number, he picked up.

    Ted: Hello?
    Me: Ted?
    Ted: Yeah.”

    XD

  130. Ifer says:

    Personally, I’d like to take the middle ground here. IE did not do anything hurtful or disrespectful, but Chris did indeed get hurt.

    I think that instead of bashing either side, it would be more constructive to learn from this experience.

    I know that one of the main tenets of Improv Everywhere is that they don’t tell the civilians what is happening; but I think that in cases where there is an obvious negative response, like in this mission or in the shoe department in look up more, that it might be a good idea to briefly break character to ensure that no harm is done.

  131. Priscila says:

    I think this was a great prank that got really bad publicity, plain and simple. When TAL went on about how “Charlie forces people into his world, yada yada yada”, I just felt like screaming. These pranks are designed to lift up people, and they did, until OTHER people began mocking them. When I heard about the band thing or this, I felt happy for the so-called “victims”. It was nothing to mock. It’s the people who mock the “victims” that turn them into victims.

  132. Louie says:

    Just listened to the radio show. Ted sounds weirded out by it, but not traumatized. What are you people talking about?! Even if it “haunts” him, he had a good time!

  133. wowzor says:

    the fact that they got the ‘ted’ to go 180 … was quite some nice persuasion… amazing!

  134. Fred says:

    Oh, leave off. That Ted wasn’t forced to stay. Listening to that interview, he said he “felt like we had to stay” but his reasoning was that people kept offering to buy him drinks? What a joke. No one forced him to stay after he left. All they did was a couple guys came out, just said “hey man, please stay, I’ll get a drink for you.” He could easily have said “no, I’m leaving.” No one would have followed him. He seemed to have enjoyed himself at the time. Sure he was weirded out, but its not like he really was convinced he was Ted and screwed up or something. Its a harmless joke, and unfortunate that that guy had to be so unappreciative of it. I think its great, and doing something like this again would be cool, just maybe try to make sure they pick a better person. Maybe they can set someone up, like find a regular, and ask their friend if it would be cool if they did this to them. Then they wouldn’t get idiots like this guy who pretend to have fun, and get pissed off later.

  135. Punny says:

    YOU GUYS SHOULD DO THAT AGAIN! THAT WAS SO FUNNY! HAHAHAHA! ted…..

  136. jim ted says:

    i came accross this a while back & just had to re -read it, what a fantastic ploy, i must congratulate all the agents involved,i wonder if i could pull this off in Belfast, were i live, lol, might be a bit dodgey,
    Superb, best Birthday Ted ever had, one question however ?
    Did ted get laid, lol.
    Cheers folks & keep up the good work.

  137. Yoyoyo in da hiz says:

    Oh my, some of the people in these comments are complete retards.

  138. sarah says:

    what a lucky guy! haha and still got calls even after the party!
    these are sweet ideas! they create a fun way of puting theatre into actual reality without needing a stage!. This is pure genius!

  139. Dandy Sandy says:

    This is just like any other mission. For Ted, it could only have been like being in a play where everyone else knew the script and you didn’t. Kind of bewildering, but I don’t think it should be at all traumatizing.

    I, for one, liked this mission. If it happened to me I would definitely be confused, but mostly I’d think it was an adventure!

  140. Aaron M. says:

    TED was not a traumatized victim he made himself out to be. At first sure id turn to my friend and act as he did. but 27 people? i wouldn’t have assumed anything but mistaken identity. I mean c’mon people jealous that not once in your lives you have had a tale to tell? I believe he saw an opportunity to get some more out of the experience than a cake, party, and gift cards. I would love to be able to tell my family that one day when i was 21 i had a crazy life experience in which 27 strangers threw a party for me and showered me with gifts. I was wierded out so i asked for a shot to prove that I was who they thought i was, and not just trying to fool me. They bought me one, and another, and another. I played pool, laughed, almost got laid. It was great.

    I love you IE and i hope you do more to better the mundane lives of people everywhere, and hope to one day be a participant in one of your missions.

  141. Jim says:

    Just listened to the TAL ep.

    That presenter’s a bit of a prat, isn’t he? The amount of times he tries to make people’s generally good responses sound like generally bad ones is ludicrous.

    The notion that “Ted” could actually believe there was a genuine Ted when thirty people where very obviously treating him as it and (as the evening went on) agreeing with his own “memories” that he came up with is preposterous.

    The idiocy of the TAL report is easily demonstrated: 1) the guy who said the Pasha evening was the worst thing that could EVER happen to him… to call it an overstatement would be an understatement and an injustice to overstatements. A successful gig is a horrible thing? Good job he’s not in a band… 2) It’s very obvious that the band didn’t feel that way given that they made an appearance at the IE 5th anniversary do. “SOOOOOO traumatised by that group of bastards, we’ll perform at their next big celebration JUST TO TEACH THEM A LESSON!!!!!”.

    As for Ted: He requested the first drink. He came back. He decided to play Ted. He didn’t have to. The suggestion that he did is preposterous. The TAL guy tries to make him out as a victim on three mutually exclusive counts: 1) he believed there was a genuine Ted whose gift vouchers he’d stolen, 2) he believed that the gang was out to get him and continually harassed him, 3) he started to believe he was Ted. The reporter didn’t suggest one, but ALL, and there’s no way you could believe them all, as any one naturally excludes possibility of another. And IE made sure each of these were utterly implausible throughout the evening.

    To back up Rachel from above, “It’s almost too bad you have to do it in America, which contains some of the most fearful people on the planet.”. We’re approaching a world where suing is the natural solution to everything in the day, where people can take offense to anything. Even if “Ted” was the emotional wreck traumatised by the whole evening, it was a worthwhile risk to attempt to bring a joyous and memorable event into someone’s life, and I’d father live in a world with the former than one without the latter.

    Keep up the good work.

  142. CSE says:

    Nice. I would love to do this for a friend.

  143. Dumps and Chumps says:

    Hey Punny and Fred. IE did do Ted’s Birthday again and filmed it on their last DVD.

  144. Jack says:

    Yeah, just listened to the TAL episode, and I have to say, it sounds like a guy who had a story to tell and found the people and the perfect spooky mood music to tell it with. The guitar player had me groaning with his recital of childhood trauma, but at least he came back and said that the mission turned out to be a therapeutic experience for him. As for their unwanted publicity and so on…um…hello, welcome to your chosen profession! What will you do if/when your band actually starts getting recognized and you have to deal with psychotic groupies and bad reviews? When you put yourself up on stage, how can you possibly whine about someone coming to your gig and applauding? I was in a band back in the 80s. Let’s rewind the clock and have IE come to one of our poorly attended gigs, please.

    But Ted/Chris taking the pose of the victim and saying he had no options was just too much for me. What a crock! He could have just walked away (like he almost did more than once) and these people would have let him go (as they had resigned themselves to). But he chose to hang around, to participate, to delve into this mysterious event, to satisfy his curiosity and even to fail at seducing one of the female agents. And it seems to me that he got a taste for the attention, as his little drama-queen recital of his abuse at the hands of these people is retold. He started to believe that he was Ted? Oh my God! Someone un-Ted the poor fellow! Maybe it was the retelling of his failed seduction that got to him. No guy likes it broadcasted when not even 6 shots can get the girl to sleep with him.

    And all the rest of you enablers saying that IE crosses a line – what line? Yes, people can be fragile. But fragile people can snap for whatever reason. Should we all just stay in our rooms and not look at each other for fear that someone is going to be freaked out? If the worst thing that ever happens to you is that a bunch of strangers call you by a different name and insist on buying you drinks, I name you a loser at life if your response is to then turn around and cry about how it wounded your psyche. Honestly.

    I hate practical jokes. Most of them are mean-spirited, and the “ha-ha!” comes at the expense of someone else’s dignity. I almost always cringe and feel sorry for the victim. I have to say I don’t see any victims here, except for self-made ones. I think that is more a phenomenon of people being thrust into the spotlight and trying to hold on to it for whatever reason. I hope IE keeps trying to bring unexpected joy to people, and I hope someday that I get to witness or even participate in something like this.

  145. Billy Mac says:

    My Irish grandmother once told me that some people aren’t happy unless they’re miserable. She must have read some of the comments on this board or been at Ted’s party. This mission is hysterical and generous, we should all be lucky enough to have total strangers treat you like family. Ted was surrounded by his best friends whose only goal was to make sure Ted had a good time. Mission accomplished. If he’s now convinced that he is scarred because of that night, or worse, simply wants more attention, that sucks. I’m going to throw a “Get Well Soon” party for Ted. Keep up the good work IE, I’m happy you exist.

  146. Hannah says:

    It’s unfortunate that out of all the people in the world, you guys happened to choose a guy who wouldn’t enjoy meeting friendly new people who wanted to shower him with gifts and attention.

    Thinking about it, I don’t think I know a SINGLE person who wouldn’t have enjoyed being the center of the prank. I’m a recent college grad so I’m in a very similar demographic to ‘Ted’. It’s really really strange to me that a college student wouldn’t have had fun with this. Someone younger or someone older, I can see how it might’ve bothered them. But a college student? Really? Weirder shit has happened on college campuses. A bunch of people wanting to buy you shots? Well, c’mon, that’s out of the ordinary but it’s not completely omfg bizarre.

    I would have LOVED to have been targeted for this, and I’m a pretty shy gal myself. I truly believe that IE got unlucky with this one. I mean really, what are the chances? If you pranked an entire college campus, I think the vast majority of students would have responded favorably to a fake surprise birthday party.

    But just cause you guys were unlucky doesn’t mean this wasn’t a really cool mission. All the haters really need to sit down and think for a second. Friendly people, cake, $250 in gift cards, plenty of free drinks, and hugs at the end of the night… yeah, not exactly the worst thing that could happen to a person.

  147. Jonathan says:

    Some of these comments are really ridiculous which insult “Ted”. He did absolutely nothing wrong. He was targeted by this group while he was minding his own business.

    If I had been in his situation I would have been extremely annoyed. I would have first tried to calmly explain to one of the “pranksters” that I was not into what was going on, and explain to them I’d seriously like them to stop. If for some bizarre reason they continued with their prank, I’d just leave and go elsewhere, and just have to deal with my evening being ruined.

    I am baffled by the criticism “Ted” has received from some people here. Maybe IE shouldn’t go around targeting individuals for their own amusement? Stop pretending that they’re doing some kind of noble or important work. They’re just pranking people for their own amusement and to amuse their internet audience. Sometimes their pranks are funny, sometimes they’re stupid. I tend to find the ones that are harmless pranks in which they behave in unusual ways and crowds of onlookers react to it, like walking in slow motion in a store, or dancing in windows, or walking around a Subway with minimal clothing. The ones that manipulate a specific individual or group of individuals, like this one and the band one, I find to be pretty distasteful and arrogant. It’s arrogant to think that your little comedy prank sketch is going to make somebody happy. The one with the romantic comedy in the cab even bothers me, because this guy is going around with a nice memory in his head, but that memory is a lie. It was a hoax. He thinks he really helped unite two people, but they were just actors putting on a show so that they could amuse people on the internet. This guy has no idea he was duped.

    I just wish IE would stick to the “doing weird things in public that confuse or amuse the public” rather than the “target a specific person for our amusement” thing.

  148. George H says:

    Hey April, I’m a recent college grad and if IE had pulled this obnoxious stunt on me I would have been out of that building within five minutes, at least if they refused to cease their prank after a polite request or two. Not everybody enjoys being the center of some bizarre prank and the center of unwanted attention just because free stuff is to be had. I know everyone is different, but I have to say I take a little offense to the notion that there must be something weird or wrong with someone for not wanting to be a part of this. I’m not some sort of nutcase just because I don’t want to be targeted by a bunch of strangers for their little improv project. I happen to know a lot of people who would be irritated by this sort of thing. I don’t think that attitude is as uncommon as you might think. I think IE actually was lucky that they found someone as calm as “Ted”, because “Ted” had every right to be a lot more vocal in his annoyance and he seemed to be pretty calm in the face of a bizarre and no doubt frustrating ordeal.

  149. I’m listening to the TAL episode and Ted sounds like an okay guy. It’s perfectly normal to be freaked out by a huge crowd of strangers thinking you’re someone else, especially if you’re shy. It’s the INTERVIEWER who’s an idiot – if you look at the page, they’ve got IE lined up right before a story about Elizabeth Smart (the girl who was kidnapped and brainwashed). http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1075

  150. Sam says:

    Why are people shocked that there are people who wouldn’t enjoy being targeted like this by a bunch of strangers? I would have absolutely hated it and I’d have left at once. Stop acting like Ted is some kind of jerk because he didn’t like being harassed by a bunch of improv pranksters. He didn’t do a single thing wrong, he was minding his own business and these guys just picked him at random. I think it’s commendable he didn’t react more negatively. If it were me I’d have just left. Why is everyone acting like it’s bizarre to not want to be targeted by dozens of strangers and have your image plastered all over their website for hundreds of strangers to mock you? IE owes this guy an apology, but I doubt they’d ever consider that.

  151. Levi'sGirl says:

    LOL! I love that when Agent Good called the next day he answered to ted!

  152. kevin says:

    Several of the commenters above are right that it’s pretty reprehensible to bash Ted in this, regardless of what you think about the prank. If it was for his benefit, you shouldn’t be insulting him, and that’s that.

    As for the prank, the main thing I find objectionable is the idea that he was “free” to leave at any point. As one commenter noted above, the IE members followed him outside the bar to insist that he stay. Obviously Ted wasn’t forced in any physical way to do anything, but there are plenty of social psychology experiments out there to show that peer pressure and the power of the situation are extremely potent forces (Milgram, Stanford prison, etc.). It’s rather unreasonable for commenters to read about it now with full knowledge of what’s going on and say that they’d love for this to happen to them, since Ted had no such knowledge and was put in this situation without any warning.

    I’m not sure I blame IE for the idea or the plan, anyway, but the main point is that if Ted says it bewildered and upset him, it’s indisputably arrogant and condescending to tell him he shouldn’t feel that way. It’s possible to regret the outcome even if you don’t regret the idea, and I’m disappointed that many people don’t seem to regard Ted’s opinion as important in this.

  153. fan says:

    Even though this happpened five years ago, the comments keep coming. I just wanted to say that I was really enjoying watching the hilarious missions when I read the comments on this and became depressed. Understanding that mental distress can result from being bombarded by a bunch of strangers calling you Ted, I find Chris’ story about being scarred on TAL to be exaggerated if not entirely made up. If positive attention including gifts and drinks from 25 strangers causes stress, he wouldn’t have exposed himself to an entire nation of strangers to be judged willingly. Especially since he did the interview a year and a half later, it makes more sense that he did it to gain more attention from the event beyond the “party.”

  154. Some Dummy says:

    Out of all the things in the world that can harm you, Cris (‘Ted’), chose free drinks, 250 bucks in gift cards, and attention? You’d think he’d be more worried about all the packs of cigarettes he went through. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but come on.

  155. Patrick F. says:

    I perfectly understand Chris’ reaction with this one. Thinking of my personality, I can tell you—I would be extremely uncomfortable if I were put in this situation. And, given this extreme discomfort, I would probably end up doing things I otherwise wouldn’t, and I may end up doing exactly what Chris ended up doing, even if I wouldn’t have otherwise.

    This is a somewhat cruel joke. I definitely would have hated this.

  156. mz says:

    A few points:

    1. Peer pressure on “Ted” was (intentionally) amplified by choosing the target who was there *with HIS OWN friends*, to be used as extra “leverage” on keeping the target from walking out of the bar.
    Besides, they chose an obviously young, shy-looking person, obviously not up to the par to fend off a large colluded group trained in both acting and human psychology.

    2. Several commenters wrote, “He could clarify the confusion by producing his ID” – he did, and was dismissed by the “agents” as “still keeping it to get into the movies for cheaper”.

    3. By providing as many clues to his identity as possible (his and his friend’s names, his area code, the school he attends), his personal details (such as alleged “chain-smoking”) and most of all permanently publishing his photos online, the organizers turned the guy into a public figure without his permission. Not only they messed with his mind, but now positioned and offered him as a free target for rude comments, armchair psychoanalyzing, name-calling (“weenie”, “wanker”, “crybaby” etc) by anyone who comes across this website. That’s a steep price to pay for “a night of friends and free drinks” – and again, he didn’t ask for it and was severely peer-pressured and manipulated into staying.
    Some may say that he “chose” to go public with TAL, but this is his only way to get his side of the story heard. Also, TAL reporters may be just as publicity- and sensation-hungry as you are, and the poor guy may’ve gotten manipulated for the second time to serve somebody else’s purpose- all thanks to you guys deciding to spring “an unforgettable night” on him…gee, thanks.

    4. “He got $250 free gifts” – when someone gets violated, does throwing money onto the victim afterwards justify the violation?
    You ruined his evening, you put him on the spot, made a joke out of him in front of his friend and for anyone who reads this story online, you published his photos online and opened him in all kinds of comments, including nasty ones, you made sure to involve his own friend as a permanent reminder and a witness to this bizarre night…but it all doesn’t matter as you “pre-paid” for it?

    Had it been my son or little brother, the organizers would’ve been sued to remove this story (and definitely, photos and personal details) from their website.
    It would be another day of public fun to see if your self-made “rules” would supersede the law.

  157. Jaypoc says:

    I can absolutely see the confusion that Chris went through but another poster was correct in pointing out that 20+ people believing that you’re someone else should indicate some sort of prank or joke.

    Even if he didn’t realize something was up, Chris could have taken off, or continued insisting that he was not Ted. He instead embraced the moment and took advantage of all that was happening.

    There’s many things inlife that can occur unexpected which can leave you hurt, traumatized, humiliated and embarassed, but those events don’t come with free drinks, cake, and over $250.

    If Chris really feels that he made a wrong decision to play along, or feels like these people forced him to have fun, and accept the gifts, then it should be a relief for him to find out that it was actually for him, and he did no wrong in accepting his role.

    And I don’t agree with anybody that he acted like an ass or did the wrong thing to accept the gifts, after all, everyone insisted that he take them, He never claimed to be Ted until much later on at which point most people would realize something is up and either play along or bolt.

    With anything, unforseen events may occur. Positive or Negative. Some people will see things one way and some another. No matter what IE does, someone may see a dark side, regardless if its’ group or individual related. No matter what people do or say, there’s people who will disagree.

    I encourage Charlie Todd and the affiliates of this event to continue moving foward and continue to create more great experiences. See you guys at the MP3 Experiment 6!

  158. Mark says:

    The suggestion that the This American Life story was not propaganda is…scary to me. Just because it doesn’t support the view shown here, doesn’t mean that it is free of bias. I found that it did its best to only show the opposing side of the story, which is just as bad.

    I’m not saying that this was right, or that it was wrong for that matter. I’m saying that we probably don’t have enough information from these two sources to judge it fairly. It seems that generally (yay for the Fallacy of Insufficient Statistics!) those who found this site through TAL see this experiment negatively, while those who already new the site see it just as any other mission.

    My point is that just because this site says something, it doesn’t mean that it’s all a lie to justify their actions, and just because another source says something, it doesn’t make it any truer.

  159. Kitten says:

    Wow, okay people chill! It’s not completely bad (or even remotely bad) on what they did. They gave him a great night and the best ‘birthday’ he’ll ever have! Now, it’s understandable he’d be upset from people calling him by the wrong name and suddenly giving him gifts- sometimes your selfmorals kick in and you don’t know what to do. On the otherhand, they made him really happy. It sounds like he was positively overjoyed to have so many people come to his ‘birthday’ (that and the liquor loosened him up -.o) So just stop bagging on them. It was a great mission and successful too.
    <3

  160. Allyza says:

    With IE and the Ted/Pasha missions, the purpose going in was to give a person/band a really fun, unforgettable night, not to make them angry or sad.

  161. Lawnmowers says:

    I believe that IE got unlucky with this one. I mean really, what are the chances?

  162. Ice says:

    “MZ”

    are you serious? Do you really think it’d have been BETTER if the target had been ALONE? If you knew anything about social psychology, you should know that having his own friend who’s not in on the prank would actually create LESS peer pressure, not more.
    There would’ve been no way for IE to know that the friend would react positively to the ‘prank’. Besides, the friend obviously created very little pressure (if any) on ‘Ted’ to stay in the bar, since Ted and his friend did actually remove themselves from the group multiple times. They could have just as easily have left for good,

    Frankly, I think TAL planned to twist the story from the get go. I’ve also heard that Chris had only found out what had happened through TAL. Consider this, if TAL wanted a negative reaction, do you think they would’ve broke the news to him in the most appropriate way? Before TAL, no one was making any negative comments about Chris at all, I just find it sad that they had to break the story in such a way that no one wins.

    Imo Chris’ reaction is completely understandable and should not be criticized for it. But I’m pretty sure IE would’ve removed the story if Chris had personally requested it too. It seems that Chris have not. It’s just an idea that sounded good on paper but didn’t turn out as well. It happens.

  163. PoorOldEdgarDerby says:

    See, it’s the free gifts and drinks that clinch it. Like everybody I’ve often insisted a complete stranger is an old friend, but I reckon if I had some free stuff for ‘em they might’ve bought into it a little longer.

  164. Barry says:

    Ha! This is probably one of my favorite skits ever.

    To those complete dolts who claim Chris has been emotionally scarred or any other crap you can come up with you need to find something better to do with your lives.

    He was given a party and $250 worth of gift cards. Not to mention it sounds like he had a bunch of shots payed for. He was so traumatized by this incident he was mackin on one of the agents trying to get her to go home with him.

    I only wish my life was that bad.

  165. Tiger says:

    mz lost his damn mind. Earlier on someone said Americans are the most fearful people on the planet and I think mz proves it. Threatening to sue… Yeah and get laughed out of court. “THEY BOUGHT HIM DRINKS AND CAKE”.

    The American Life people sound really crooked and Chris is a jerk, I’m sorry, he just is. Some people just wont be happy unless they’re miserable. He could have talked to Charlie, and been like hey that’s not cool man. Maybe have gotten an apology out of it. I don’t see anything that says that he ever talked to him at all actually. He just went running to a third party (that skews information) and gave his sob story about how he didn’t spend his gift cards and he had to look at them (he did spend them later on).

    Is that right? You got a problem with someone and instead of telling them you hold it in inside? It would be different if he was actually troubled, but he’s just shy. Gimmie a break.