For our latest mission, over 50 redheads rode the subway together and protested a Manhattan Wendy’s for their “racist logo.” Enjoy the videos first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report, photos, and more videos below.
Digital Video: Agents Shafer, Gross, Todd, PKroll
Digital Photography: Agents Fountain, AScott
Mission Inspired By: Agent McCarthy
Agent Fountain organizes the group photo
Agent McCarthy stopped me on the street a couple of months ago with an awesome suggestion. He proposed, “What would it be like if you got onto a subway car and slowly realized that everyone on the car but you had red hair?” Redheads only make up 1% of the world’s population, and with the racial diversity of the New York subway system, it’s probably an even smaller percentage. We had no idea how many redheads we could actually find. I sent an email to our New York agents list and was amazed at the response. We had tons of redheads in our ranks, and everyone else seemed to have a friend to forward it on to.
Agent Kula briefs the crowd
One of the most fun parts of the mission for me was walking to the meeting point in Central Park and trying to figure out who was a part of the group. Everyone was curiously checking out everyone else’s hair as they approached, trying to make sure they were in the right spot. About 50 redheads showed up, and Agent Kula (Improv Everywhere’s most senior redhead) briefed the crowd on the day’s activities.
The subway ride was first on our agenda. Of course, we’d be taking the 1 train, as it’s on the red line.
The redheads acted as if they didn’t know each other and went about their normal subway routine.
The youngest redheaded agent
The 1 train goes above ground for a few stops in upper Manhattan, which could have been dangerous for our redheads had a very enterprising salesmen not have arrived to hawk $1 squirts of sunscreen.
Agent Rodgers makes a sale
The vendor was played by Agent Rodgers, reprising his “subway entrepreneur” role from No Pants 2k6 when he sold dozens of pants to half-naked riders. That kid always seems to have what’s in demand.
Agent Rodgers ’07
Agent Rodgers ’06
The 30, 45, and 50 SPF squirts of sunscreen sold very well.
Folks on the train giggled and whispered to each other as riders began applying sunscreen.
At 168th street, the redheads got out and rode the train back downtown. It was fun to see the mass of red hair on the platform.
We even manged to have one Asian redhead
After the ride we met back up in the park and regrouped for our Wendy’s protest. We would be protesting Wendy’s racist mascot that was an unfair, stereotypical representation of redheaded people. It was time for the National Association for the Advancement of Redhaired People to take a stand against this offensive logo.
Several agents brought some awesome signs, and a few more brought supplies to create some on the spot.
“You want lies with that?”
We walked a few blocks to the Wendy’s on 8th and 55th and set up our peaceful protest along the sidewalk, careful not to block foot traffic.
Agent Kula led the first few chants, pumping the crowd of angry (perhaps fiery, even) redheads. Throughout the day there were some really hilarious chants. Some of my favorites:
-“Biggie Size Bigotry!”
-“Value Menu Us!”
-“Fiery Burgers Not Fiery Redheads!”
-“Give Wendy Some Pigment!”
-“Where’s Our Beef? In Your Logo!”
-“We Want Frosties, But At What Costies?!?”
We were right in front of a bus stop, which worked out well. Every few minutes a new bus would arrive and the driver would gawk at us.
We got great reactions from folks walking by. Crowds gathered on either side of us and across the street. Most folks laughed and snapped a camera phone photo; a few even called friends to tell them what was going on. Some tried to get to the bottom of it, but our agents played it straight and insisted they were legitimately upset with Wendy’s.
Some younger onlookers…
…and some older ones
Our favorite crowder member was a bald man who after exiting the Wendy’s looked confused for a few minutes trying to figure out what was going on. When he put it together, he immediately started dancing, jumping, and screaming, “Wendy’s logo has got to go” with us and shouting, “I ain’t go no hair!” He was awesome.
Our second favorite person was an older woman with red hair who emerged from the Wendy’s. She smiled and gave the crowd a fist pump, which elicited enormous cheers of solidarity.
One of our own agents got a much nastier greeting when he emerged a bit later with a Wendy’s cup in his hand. We had planned ahead that he’d be booed and called a “scab” for eating Wendy’s food.
The Wendy’s staff never came outside to address us. I went inside to capture some footage early in the mission (which you can see in the main video at the top of this page.) Most of the employees I encountered were laughing and trying to figure it all out.
An employee and two customers look out from the 2nd floor window
We got plenty of funny looks from customers as they ate as well.
The manager came to the window at one point and stared for awhile, but he opted not to come out and give Wendy’s official stance on their racist mascot.
After about a half hour we packed it up and headed out. As we got back to the meeting point we realized a guy had followed us the whole way. He had two giant bags of cheeseburgers for us. He claimed he didn’t work at Wendy’s and that he just thought we looked hungry. I guess it was just a nice guy? Anyway, once the mission was over the redheads very much enjoyed the free food.
Agent Fountain’s Flickr photoset (229 photos)
Agent Scott’s Flickr photoset (191 photos)
Also be sure to check out the comments below, many of which are from folks who hilariously think the protest was real.
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