Jar Jar Subway Car: Behind The Scenes


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Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams

For April Fool’s Day this year, we uploaded a new video called Jar Jar Subway Car (a supposed sequel to last year’s mission Star Wars Subway Car.) The video made it seem like our actor playing Jar Jar Binks was assaulted by three random strangers on the train. As the behind the scenes video above will show you, it was a hoax. The three guys were all friends of ours. Everything was completely staged, and everyone on the train was told what was going on beforehand. This is the third year in a row we’ve posted a fake mission on April Fool’s Day. If you haven’t seen our previous ones, check out The No Underwear Subway Ride and Best Funeral Ever. Watch the video first, and then enjoy the full story below.

Cast and Crew
Jar Jar Binks: Alan Corey
Darth Maul: Alex Scordelis
Tough Guys: Billy Beyrer, Shaun Diston, Justin Lang
Subway Riders: Big Rich Armstead, Peter Goldstein, Gwinevere von Ludwig
Shot by: Matt Adams, Keith Haskel, Dylan Tuccillo
Photography: Katie Sokoler (photo credit for all photos on this page.)flickr set.

The last two April Fool’s videos made it look like we did a mission in very poor taste. This year, I wanted to stage a mission that seemed to go horribly wrong. I figured having someone attack one of our agents is about as bad as it could get. I thought a sequel to Star Wars Subway Car would be a plausible mission for us, and since pretty much everyone hates Jar Jar Binks, he seemed to be the best candidate for a beat down. Plus, Jar Jar Subway Car has such a great ring to it.

We would never actually stage a lame mission like this. Star Wars Subway Car was both site-specific (the white walls and the sliding doors on the train made it look like the rebel ship) and a reference to a specific scene in the movie. This was just a cheap imitation of the first mission, using random characters and lesser-quality costumes. The idea that we would follow up the original video with a sequel (or prequel!) using Jar Jar Binks, the most hated character in the whole franchise if not all of cinema, made us laugh.

Agent Ace$Thugg and Agent Scordelis were cast to play Jar Jar and Darth Maul. For the attackers, I wanted to cast people who our fans wouldn’t recognize as being a part of the group. Agent Diston and Agent Beyrer have never been in an IE video, and Agent Lang hasn’t been prominently featured in a video since No Shirts in 2007. All three guys have been involved with The UCBW, a comedy wrestling league at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, so they were already experts in fake fighting. I also cast three agents to play onlookers on the train who would be seated right in front of the fight. This would help us with continuity and would guarantee we’d get some great reaction shots. We ended up getting lots of great reactions from strangers as well.

Darth Maul boarded the train first, allowing us an opportunity to stage some silly photos.

Jar Jar waits for the train.

On a normal Improv Everywhere mission, we use the smallest cameras possible and film as discreetly as we can. Since this was a fake mission, secrecy wasn’t important. Before each take, I announced to everyone in the train, “Hey everybody, we’re shooting a student film. There’s going to be a fight between our actors. Just so you know it’s completely fake.” I thought it was important to give everyone a heads up, so no one worried about their safety or thought about alerting an MTA official. Most people just smiled and waited for the show to begin. We purposely staged this on the very back car of the train on a Saturday afternoon, so it wouldn’t be too crowded.

Agent Goldstein helps Agent Ace$Thugg up after a take.

Agent Armstead gives a great reaction as an onlooker.

A woman snaps a picture of Jar Jar.

In order to make it believable, I thought it was important to have Jar Jar pretty obviously provoke the guys on the train. If some dude just attacked our actor out of nowhere, it wouldn’t seem real. Plus, the fact that we were trying to “press charges” on these guys after Jar Jar so clearly provoked the fight, would make us look really ridiculous and add to the hoax.

Agent Beyrer gets kicked in the nuts by Jar Jar as Agent Diston holds him back.

We wanted to create the feel of chaos on the train with each fight, so it was never scripted out exactly how it would go down. The premise of our fake mission was that Jar Jar would enter the train and ask strangers if they had seen Darth Maul. Agent Ace$Thugg’s voice isn’t that easy to hear through the mask, but he’s basically saying the same three lines over and over again:

– Meesa Jar Jar Binks.
– Meesa scared!
– Yousa seen Darth Maul?

Just as Darth Vader made a surprise appearance by boarding at a later stop in Star Wars Subway Car, Darth Maul would enter this time around and hunt down Jar Jar. We timed it out so that the three attackers would be trying to leave the train right when Maul enters.

Agent Scordelis accidentally puts his mask on backwards before a take.

Agent Ace$Thugg smiles after getting fake beat up.

We probably staged the fight a dozen times on the six train, heading uptown and then back downtown. The final video mostly used a combination of two takes, both on the same car (so that the ads and people in the background would be consistent.)

We had to figure out a reason we would actually post a “mission gone wrong” on YouTube. If this had really happened, there would be no reason to upload a video of us getting beat up for the world to see. So I concocted the story of Agent Ace$Thugg wanting to press charges and that we were looking for the three men.

Hopefully we will stage a proper sequel to Star Wars Subway Car one day, but I can guarantee you that Jar Jar won’t be involved.

For reference, here is the original hoax video:


(View it larger on YouTube) | Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams


OTHER RESOURCES:

Agent Katie Sokoler’s full flickr set of photos
– Related Missions:
* Star Wars Subway Car
* The No Underwear Subway Ride
* Best Funeral Ever

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comments

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58 Responses to Jar Jar Subway Car: Behind The Scenes

  1. Jordan says:

    You sure fooled me! The only other website that came close to fooling me was the Krystal Archive, and even then I was suspicious. I always am on April 1st, but you guys did amazing with the trick here. Great job.

  2. [Gm] says:

    Other than the fact that the video was uploaded on April 1st, one thing that makes me sure it’s fake is when one of the ‘thugs’ (at around 0:35) said “Stop taping!”… if the video was real, I’m sure the team will use inconspicuous camera which the thugs will not notice. He will probably shouted “back off!” to the ‘cameraman’, but not “Stop taping!”

    Great job, though. I’m sure everyone had a great laugh in the end :-).

  3. Phil Guest says:

    Mixed emotions here, guys – pleased that the Jar Jar actor WASN’T beaten up for real but p**sed off that I was fooled so completely!

    Nice work – just don’t expect me to drop by your site on April 1 ever again. I can’t take the humiliation! :)

  4. John says:

    I figured it out fairly easily but couldn’t say this on the other entry since you disabled comments (to keep people from spoiling the joke, I guess?). Anyway, I thought the joke was hilarious, and whether it was real or not, I cracked up every time Darth Maul came in waving around his lightsaber. But do you think you went a little too far with the call out for everyone to spread it around to ID the guys and press charges? It seems like you’re squandering a big resource you guys have in the fans in case something like this ever did happen, because now people are going to be a lot less likely to help in case they look like, well, fools again when it all turns out to be a joke. I think the mission would have been just as good and spread around just as much without that (look at all the recent videos going viral and making the news of fights in IHOPs and taco shops). I’m all for stirring up controversy and even pranking your fans (I loved the April Fools mission with the fake funeral even though that got a lot of people upset), but it’s a bit different when people end up looking gullible to their friends.

  5. Ginger says:

    Yeah, I agree with John. I love Improv Everywhere, but seriously this drove me crazy. I was worried about you guys and the fact you posted it on the 31st, the day before April Fool’s, made me think, well it must be real. I even spoke with a cop on my block about it. Argh. People thought I was an idiot because I was concerned for you. Lame-o, guys.

    • Charlie says:

      We posted it at about 12:30 AM on April 1, as we always do. YouTube is in California, so the video on YouTube gets listed as March 31.

  6. Patrick says:

    While it was obvious from the very start that this video was an April Fools fake (it’s been a tradition for years after all), I think it was in bad taste. Staging violence and then asking for help is like a variation of going into a theatre and shouting fire, just instead you’re faking a violent crime and then act surprised when everybody around is upset.

    Sorry, I love Improv Everywhere, but I think this was a bad choice.

    • Julia says:

      I completely agree.

    • Rob says:

      I disagree. Physical comedy is a hallmark of the genre… and that includes ‘fake’ violence. The only issue I was concerned about when I first watched was that the general public was unaware… but they let them know beforehand so my concern was mitigated.

      Great April Fools video guys!

      • Matt says:

        When you have to explain yourself, like in this post, the joke failed. Slapstick doesn’t equal fake violence and to say so trivializes violence. To the uniformed viewer, how is this any different then thugs beating someone up on a train and then just calling it april fools? I like some of your stuff, but this went a little too far.

    • Mr. Anderson says:

      Wow, everyone who is genuinely upset for being “punk’d,” you are overlooking one thing: breaking the social contract is what Improv Everywhere has always been about. Usually the “pranks” are played for a live audience and recorded for a wider audience to enjoy over the Internet. For this mission, the Internet audience IS the “live” audience that is being misled. The joke is on us: that is the point of this mission.

      Like a magic trick, there is deception and misdirection used upon the audience. The difference is that an audience, usually, chooses to watch a magic trick and expects to be misled for the purpose of entertainment. Here, you were not expecting to be misled, hence a social contract was broken. You didn’t expect to be a part of the act. But to you I say, Lighten up! That is the whole point of IE.

      I enjoy their non-malicious “pranks” precisely because they challenge the social contract to make you re-engage with your surroundings and your fellow man. I don’t know about you, but I live in NY and the social contract tells me to avoid eye contact on the train, hurry from one place to the next, and view the people with whom I share this dense urban space as hinderances at best, threats at worst. These pranks give pause to that daily routine and re-humanize my neighbors by breaking and renegotiating the contract. If the price to be paid is that I am the butt of the joke once in a while, so be it.

      There are two options: you can choose to lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself and have a good time, or you can choose to be offended and outraged and stick with the social script. Take the red pill!

  7. Huff says:

    Duh… got fooled, 150%. I’m extremely gullible though, I guess that’s why I love your missions so much, they all have a “what-if” element that makes us think of another world, one where people would try to break up a fight for example (thumbs up to the guy from the other car!)

  8. Jon says:

    I think you guys should have a TON of Jawas get on a car with a couple of droids. And I mean like… FILL the car with Jawas. Also for some reason I feel like they should smell weird. Then, similarly to the first SW mission, some stormtroopers should get on and scare the Jawas away in a frenzy (leaving the droids behind). When the car leaves the station, they should make off-handed comments to the passengers about “dirty Jawas” and “it’s a good thing we caught up to these droids” etc etc. All this time, at least one of the droids should be asking for help from the other passengers. Then at the following stop, the stormtroopers should carry the droids off with them.

  9. It was a fun video and obviously a fake, some people are more gulible I guess. Actually a few people fell for my fake touchscreen joke on my own site and that was even more obvious than this. I do like your movie releated clips though, both the star wars clips and the ghostbuster one are my favourite so far.

  10. toffee says:

    You have to get the “star wars bar” set up in a subway car with the musicians playing away like in the movie , you wouldn’t even need any dialogue for it. The reaction of people walking in on that would funny enough alone. Keep up the great work.

  11. Andreas says:

    Ewoks. Lots of ‘em.

  12. Crrrazylegs says:

    Hell yeah, I was suspicious! I always am @ April Fools day!
    But if it wasn’t a April Fools’s, I would be extremely angry right now..
    Not @ IE, but @ the 3 big guys who attacked Jar Jar..
    Well done! Looking forward to next year’s April Fools video :P
    Greetings from Holland!!

  13. nalts says:

    You’ve out done yourself. With the exception of Food Court Musical, I’m not sure I’ve watched and rewatched a video so many times. It’s so brilliantly conceived, executed, acted and edited. Had I not realized it was April 1 before seeing it (and already fell for the tasteless funeral prank) I would most certainly have been convinced by the realistic short-fuse of your trio. I’ve played it for no fewer than 20 people. After chaos that ensues, second character’s entry is what makes everyone crack up so hard (even when they didn’t know about the original). It’s just so naive- he’s still “in character” until some desperate please to remove the mask. THAT’s comedy.

  14. You had me fooled for a moment, and then I realized what day it was. Good job, IE!

  15. Red says:

    I hate you guys. I really do. Just when I thought I was clever enough for April Fools pranks, I fell for this one. Only after I tweeted about this did I realize that it’s been a prank, LOL!

    And for the Star Wars sequel, try doing Yoda. Let me see how you’ll pull it off :-)

  16. Debbie says:

    Was totally fooled….I wonder what you would do with Jabba in a subway car!!! Keep up the great work!

    • Mr. Anderson says:

      I second this! A really big Jabba seated and taking up the space of three people + a minor character trying to squeeze into the remaining space and becoming visibly annoyed = HI-larious.

  17. Glen says:

    I’d like to see the scene just after Han gets freed from the carbonite and is helped by Luke to escape Jabba’s control.

    • Kevin P says:

      I think you’re trying to get someone to appear in a slave Leia costume, and I support you, sir.

  18. zen-mommy says:

    I generally enjoy the joyful mayhem you all create, but this joke was poorly done. It really upset me and worsened my day. Could you try for more uplifting pranks on April Fool’s? Thanks.

    • Rob says:

      But… all their other videos are ‘uplifting pranks’… how would you change it for April Fools and not just be the same?

  19. Oscar says:

    I was actually fooled with the notification Email, thinking “Really? More Star Wars so soon?” I was following along, up until I saw how your Jar Jar was all up in the guy’s faces. I realized then you’d never do a mission where you would intentionally harass on-lookers. After a quick look at the calender, I realized what was happening.

    Didn’t get me as bad as Best Funeral Ever, but I definitely fell for it for about 2 minutes. Thanks for another fun April Fools Day!

  20. David Evans says:

    My faith is shattered totally. I was wishing I could drive down to NYC and help with the search. Congratulations, not only on a great 1 Apr spoof but a great series of fantastic shows.