John Ward 1947 – 2010

John “Wimpy” Ward, one of Improv Everywhere’s most senior agents, passed away today. John was an incredibly kind, warm, and hilarious man, and we are all lucky to have known and worked with him. I first ran across John when he started taking classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 2003. I approached him one night and asked if he would be interested in playing a prank at a Barnes & Noble where he gave an unauthorized reading as long dead playwright Anton Chekhov. Although he had never met me and had never heard of Improv Everywhere, he instantly said, “Sure. That sounds like fun.” John was the kind of guy who said yes to life and jumped head first into new things.

Over the past six years, he has participated in nearly every Improv Everywhere mission. He danced in a window for Look Up More, stood still for Frozen Grand Central, pretended to be a Best Buy employee, and played Santa Claus in the very first Mp3 Experiment, to name just a few. In 2006, he figured out a way to sneak Improv Everywhere onto daytime television by using his position as a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? as an opportunity to play a prank.

John was adored by many Improv Everywhere fans, who were quick to celebrate his appearances in our videos in YouTube comments. He was a vital member of our group and the New York comedy community at large, and he will be missed greatly. Below are some videos and photos of some of John’s more memorable moments with IE.


John passing out candy canes on 8th Avenue for the first Mp3 Experiment


John enjoying a drink while playing Ted’s grandfather at Ted’s Birthday in 2007


John hugs and kisses a total stranger at JFK for the Welcome Back mission in 2008


John holds a sign in the subway for High Five Escalator


John Ward t-shirt

Finally, here’s a hilarious sketch John starred in that was written by IE Agent Ari Scott and staged at the UCB Theatre.

Rest In Peace, John Ward. We miss you.

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85 Responses to John Ward 1947 – 2010

  1. Cyclops says:

    Oh wow… That is some sad news. We will definitely miss you, Agent Wimpy.

  2. Daumier says:

    Say it ain’t so. I was always delighted to see him show up in videos, and he’s been a joy to watch in his IE antics. I’ll miss him! Wimpy, you’ll always be the best Anton Chekov to me.

  3. Nick says:

    He was by far one of my favorites!

    Rest in peace Wimpy. :(

  4. Jenny says:

    Wow, I’m speechless. He really was a fixture of IE and he will be missed!

  5. Ellen says:

    Oh my god. This is so upset. We’ll miss you, Anton Chekov.

  6. Arthur says:

    Wow — we were reading the Anton Chekov chapter from Causing a Scene just last night. Really sad — definitely the most recognizable agent.

  7. Bella says:

    Thats so sad to hear, my thoughts are with his family and friends during this hard time. We’ll miss you!

  8. tqe | Adam says:

    This is very sad news — I was actually rereading some of your older missions this past weekend and I have to say that the Anton Chekov reading is one of my favorites of all time.

  9. Shepard says:

    John, I didnt know your face or name 6 hours ago. I spent the time since then watching all the videos Inprov Everywhere has posted. I saw you in alot of them, and you were my favorite Agent. I finish watching the “Best Funeral Ever” and click on the website link. And I see you, and what has happened. Its absolutly unbelieveable that I only got to know you 6 hours ago, and I’m already saying goodbye. On a personal note,I would have taken the 16k too John. I wouldn’t have known what DHA was in either. Best of luck you, wherever you go my friend. My heart goes out to the fans, friends, and family. I’ll see ya when I get there John, take care for now.

  10. Jonathan says:

    IE is awesome. Love the work. John Ward made it all the more fun. Condolences to all his family, friends and fans.

  11. LafinJack says:

    Death is a bastard.

  12. Scott Beale says:

    That is very sad news. He was definitely one of the most memorable IE agents.

  13. Gary says:

    He deserves the best funeral ever.

  14. Dean says:

    Well said Gary.

  15. Rachael says:

    Godspeed, Agent Wimpy.

  16. Zak says:

    I’m very sorry to read this news.

    I’ve been following IE from Australia for a while now, and from even just reading about different pranks it was obvious that John was someone who enjoyed life and went out of his way to make sure everyone around him did too.

    My condolences to his friends and family, and to his fellow agents who he has hopefully inspired to spread the fun and laughter.

  17. Andrew says:

    That’s really sad! I’ve watched every video and I can see John Ward played a large role in IE. Now who’s going to be the next big nice guy with a beard?

  18. Sharon says:

    That’s so unfortunate :( He was in some of my favorite pranks. RIP John Ward.

  19. sabrina says:

    RIP John Ward IE missions will not be the same without you

  20. Stephen says:

    He will be very missed… He will be chatting it up with the real Anton Chekov now.

  21. Corinne says:

    I have been going to UCB for over 8 yrs now and no matter when I attend John was there in his usual seat in the front row. He ROCKED some suspenders… that is fo sho!

    RIP AGENT WIMPY AKA Anton Chekov.

  22. QueenLeilani says:

    Rest in peace John! It was great attending all the fun events with you. You will definitely be missed.

  23. Agent Minter says:

    An inspirational artist for all of us. I’ll miss his work.

  24. Jessica says:

    RIP John “Wimpy” Ward. It was always a delight to see your antics in any IE videos. Definitely one of the most recognizable agents; you’ll be missed =/.

  25. Kerstin Warner says:

    Agent Wimpy definitely embraced life – I loved seeing him on IE missions and hanging around the UCB class lobby. His “yes and” spirit will live on. I send my condolences and best regards to his family and friends.

  26. A Mohawk says:

    A very funny man leaves the world. His best pranks will keep his memory around. Thank you Agent Wimpy for the smiles you brought to my face. R.I.P.

  27. Agent Shafer says:

    I can hear Saint Peter now: “Sir, we already have a Mr. Anton Chekhov here…”

    Godspeed, John.

  28. Andrey says:

    He was great agent and funny man.
    RIP John.

  29. Lj says:

    I just watched high 5 elevator 2 days ago to relive the awesome memory, he will be missed.

  30. Moose says:

    This is a sad moment for anyone involved with IE, be it a fan or an agent. However, I want to thank IE for making me aware of John and what an incredible, funny, awesome guy. Thanks!

  31. Jeff says:

    Wimpy was the first agent I recognized immediately from mission to mission. It’ll be sad every mission from now on where I seek him out in the crowd only to realize he won’t be there. :(

    RIP Wimpy, you will be missed.

  32. Dorien says:

    My condoleances..
    That is very sad to hear.

  33. carrmah says:

    “I’ve never had anyone leave quite so quickly but he new what he wanted” M. Viera

    Is this isn’t a skit… this is very sad.
    If this is a skit… this is genius.
    The fact that I will always wonder… priceless.

  34. Suze says:

    Hats off to Agent Wimpy, a fine man and a hilarious comedian. You will be dearly missed by everyone who has participated in a mission with you, and by IE fans everywhere.

  35. Jake P. says:

    So sorry to hear about this.
    John really was a character.
    RIP good man, stay forever in heaven.

  36. Jack says:

    PLEASEEEEE tell me this another prank u IE guys r playing on ur fans.

  37. Tom M. says:

    I’ve followed Improve Everywhere for a couple of years now. I’ve always wanted to participate and really hoped to when I moved to the city 4 months ago. John was a favorite of mine and I was hoping to meet him some day. I guess I’ll just have to wait a little longer.

    Rest in Peace.

  38. meowbooks says:

    My sympathies. I didn’t know him, but watching him in Improv Everywhere missions always made me smile.

    :(

  39. This is terrible news. He leaves a legacy of joy.

  40. Joan Taber says:

    What a remarkable, talented, kind, and intelligent man. I only met him once, but he wasn’t the sort of man anyone could forget. Rest in peace, John Ward.

  41. Alex says:

    Oh no!! I fearfully recognized him right away! he seemed to be a very cool guy! he’ll be missed.

  42. Francesca says:

    I’m so very sad to hear this. R.I.P. Wimpy. :(

  43. Larry says:

    Sad to hear, he made me laugh!
    Rest in Peace Legend!!

  44. Agent Reeves says:

    He was a real top notch guy. Very sweet. Genuine. Kind. We lost an amazing person today.

  45. Jeremy says:

    Sad news indeed. He certainly added something special to everything he participated in and I’m sure he will be missed.

  46. Lord Headcheez says:

    OMG! R.I.P. John Ward. His death is a great shock to me! He seemed so active and full of energy! He will be missed.

  47. poony says:

    Mein aufrichtiges Beileid. Ich mochte John Ward, auch wenn ich ihn nicht kannte.

  48. Josh Lurie says:

    This is a huge loss for the world to lose someone as dedicated, creative, impulsive, outspoken, fun and funny as John “Wimpy” Ward. He will be missed and always remembered. Rest in peace my friend.

  49. Inkog says:

    Why such terrible things have to happen on important day? On my father’s birthday. For a guest, who knows IE just from videos on YT, it is unexpected news. He looked so fit and happy! Good luck to his soul.

  50. Rest in peace, John.

  51. Marc. Etienne Deslauriers says:

    Triste nouvelle…

    Would anyone be willing to participate, in his honor, in synchronized memorial services everywhere, and then sharing footage on the Web, for his family and friends to see how much Agent Wimpy commitment did inspire many of us to take part in something bigger than ourself.

    I believe it would be a proper way, a proper IE way, to pay our respects.

  52. IEJunkie says:

    Maybe John Ward was channeling Chekov, who wrote more than a century ago, “Try to be original in your play and as clever as possible; but don’t be afraid to show yourself foolish”

    By giving himself permission to explore comedy, let go and have fun, even though most of his colleagues were half his age, John displayed a joie de vivre that inspired millions. Thanks,IE and UCB, for sharing him with the rest of us.

  53. Andrea N says:

    My heart just sank. ):

    Rest In Peace, Agent Wimpy. I thank you for all the laughs you have given me and so many others.

  54. Chris says:

    Wimpy, a man with a heart as big as his beard. He would have made the journey to heaven with no pants on whilst holding a sign saying God wants to give you a high five. I hope that when he get’s to the pearly gates there’s a group of strangers welcoming him with open arms as he did to others so many times. The next time you hear the distant rumble of thunder it’s only God laughing as Wimpy tells the tales of Improveverywhere’s missions. Rest in Peace Wimpy may the laughter continue in our hearts for all time.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Rest in piece, Agent Wimpy, rest in peace… IE will never be quite the same. Let there be IE in heaven.

  56. Paul M says:

    Besides his life of Improv, he was also a revered member of two local dog clubs – the Bayshore Companion Dog Club where he was secretary for a couple years, and JAG. Please make sure that his dogs are properly cared for and let us know if we can help.

  57. Gene German says:

    As secretary of Bayshore Copanion Dog Club he was always available to help and participate. He was a quiet level headed individual who hid his talents and accomplishments. He will certainly be missed by we the members of Bayshore Companion Dog Club. Rest in peace John See you Christmas time evry year. Gene

  58. Chris M says:

    Thanks for all the laughs John. I send my condolences to his friends and family.

  59. Dakota Broussard says:

    Wimpy no!

    He had to be my favorite agent. I hope he rests in peace and hope his family and friends remember him forever as a good man and friend. I hope Improv Everywhere will remember him well and I think we should have a global celebration of his life.

  60. Marlo Archer says:

    I came to the website on March 31st to see what it looked like before April 1st and was stunned to find the news about Agent Wimpy. I thought, for a moment, this could be your contribution for April 1st this year, but knew you guys didn’t play that way and that the news must be true. Although I obviously never met him, I felt like I knew him through your videos and he seemed like a great guy. Rest well, Agent Wimpy!

  61. Emily says:

    I think I might actually buy an Anton Chekov shirt in memory…

  62. Please tell me this is just an early April Fools Day joke. Tell me he aint gone

  63. I can’t believe of all days I should discover this news today. For one fleeting moment I prayed that this was the sickest prank of all. But of course it’s not. It was always such fun to prank and play with Agent Wimpy. Having a senior “senior agent” was a secret weapon that heightened a bunch of our missions and his “respectable” presence in the room led more people to believe what we were doing. “Of course this is real. That old man is doing it”. I feel so fortunate that I got to escort “Grandpa” to “Ted’s” birthday party. He was so happy that “Ted” and “Lauren” were getting back together. John was always down for whatever. he will be missed.
    Thank you John. And rest in peace.

  64. Katherine says:

    Agent Wimpy, you inspired me to read The Cherry Orchard, to remember that you’re never too old to stop being spontaneous, and above all, see life’s joy in a hundred little things. God bless.

  65. Keith says:

    Being a fan of Chekov, that mission is a favorite of mine. Here’s hoping he’s still causing scenes where ever he is.

  66. Jeffrey says:

    Agent Wimpy has been one of my IE favorites and I am quite sad to learn that he has passed. My heart goes out to his family, friends and IE co-conspirators. John, you will be truly missed.

  67. Susan says:

    Just think how good he is going to be playing God in heaven he will have the angels rolling over with laughter.

  68. Denise Visco says:

    John
    We at BCDC will miss you and Spy. I hope Spy finds another forever wonderful home. I never knew about this side of your life. Wonderful work.

  69. Agent Bonkers says:

    Sorry to learn of the passing of Wimpy. We’ve watched him in missions over the years and glad to know he has brought smiles to so many. Agent Bonkers, SF Bay Area

  70. laurie seeman says:

    I saw this via the subway riders event. Noticed the name JOHN WARD.
    My dad was JOHN WARD Seeman. 1920-2010. He was a theatre man too.
    May long live improv and the absurd. Though I did not know your John Ward
    I largely appreciate who I see he is and am glad for his important part in this world stage of ours.

  71. Ari Scott says:

    Thank you for posting all of these great photos and videos of John. He was one of a kind. I wish I’d gotten to know him better but I’m so glad he touched my life briefly.

  72. Theral says:

    I saw this on April 1st .. and was hoping it was just an April Fool’s joke in bad taste.

    I live in Indiana and never met him, but he always made me laugh when I saw him in postings on here, and from what I’ve read he was a pretty cool guy. Condolences to family and friends; and may he have a hell of a time in Heaven.

  73. Carrie says:

    Oh MAN – he was a staple of IE pranks – he will be sorely missed :(

  74. Death's a Total Bastard says:

    we’re gonna miss you, john. we (as ie) will promise that we will make you proud. while we work on that, mind if you play a few pranks in heaven? say… drop some leprechaun gold, will ya?

    Missing you, even if i don’t know you!
    ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  75. Aurelien Cormier says:

    Dear John Ward,
    I’m only 12 years old but I enjoyed watching IE missons. Each time, I’d always recognize you in the crowd and very often, it made me laugh to see you. You have always been and always will be my favorite IE agent. It’ll never be the same without you.
    Rest in peace, John Ward. I will miss you very much, even though I’ve never actually met you.

  76. orrin says:

    rip….could someone briefly clarify what his prank was that he played on millionaire?

  77. deeply saddened says:

    I am stunned.THOUGH I NEVER MET HIM HE WAS LIKE THE GRANDPA I NEVER HAD.R.I.P

  78. Artur says:

    I deeply regret his death.
    Even if I did only know him from the ie vids, I had the feeling this man had a vibe, which I want to have, too, at his age.

  79. Agent Good says:

    John was one of the best. He was a class act all the way and a good friend. I’ll pour one out for you tonight buddy. We’ll all miss you.

  80. Agent Bongo says:

    Thank you John, I hope I run into you later somewhere in the cosmos.

  81. Charlie says:

    Goodbye John, you brought a ray of sunshine into my day on so many occasions, you will be greatly missed.

  82. Bridget says:

    Awh. That makes me really sad, he was great. :(
    I’ve been following IE for a while now, and I don’t think I ever really expected him to die; I mean, I knew he was old, but he’s been such a big part of all these missions that I couldn’t ever imagine him not being around.
    I hope when I’m his age, I can be like him. I obviously never knew him, personally, but he seemed like a great guy.

  83. Daisy says:

    Seriously..? He was an awesome guy..I wanted to meet him one day..Rest in Peace. ;_;

  84. He is really so cute!

  85. Randy says:

    R.I.P. Wimpy, we will ALWAYS miss you and your sense of humor.