The Moebius

Featuring: Barrison, Dippold, Keech, King, Kula, Mason, Todd, Winckler

Digital Photography: Agent Winckler

DV Cam: Agent Winckler

Mission Inspired by: Mark Hoffman and Kevin O’Bryan



“There is the theory of the moebius. A twist in the fabric of space where time becomes a loop, from which there is no escape. When we reach that point, whatever happened will happen again.”
-Lieutenant Commander Worf, Star Trek: TNG, “Time Squared”

On Saturday, March 22, 2003 Improv Everywhere agents created a living moebius strip in the Astor Place Starbucks. Seven undercover agents meticulously repeated a five-minute slice of time for twelve consecutive repetitions. Starbucks employees and patrons were frightened, confused, and ultimately entertained as they found themselves stuck, without escape, in the middle of a time loop.

There were six major components to our scene:

1. Agent Todd and Agent Dippold enter the Starbucks holding hands. They stand in line, debating over what to order. Agent Dippold reaches in her purse for her cell phone, revealing a pack of cigarettes.

Todd: You can’t smoke in here, Katie.
Dippold: I’m not smoking. I’m just getting my phone.
Todd: Give me those (tries to snatch the pack)
Dippold: Stop!
Todd: You promised you would never smoke around me.
Dippold: I’m not!
Todd: You promised you wouldn’t let me see these. (tries to snatch them again.)

Agent Dippold becomes frustrated and begins to walk towards the door.

Dippold: I can’t believe you’re doing this!
Todd: (yelling) Come back!… Come back here!… Katie!

Dippold exits and Todd chases out after her.

Agents Dippold and Todd begin to argue

Todd attempts to take cigarettes

“Katie… Come back!”
2. Agent Mason sits and writes at a table. Shortly after Todd and Dippold enter and stand in line, he spills his coffee. He trots across the Starbucks, grabs napkins, and returns to clean up his mess.

Agent Mason (right) sits with Agent Kula
3. Agent Barrison sits and reads at a table. Directly after Agent Todd and Dippold exit, he receives a cell phone call (the ringer is set to loud and to “The Entertainer”). He gets up and walks to the window for better reception. He finishes the call and returns to his seat.

Agent Barrison takes his call
4. Agent King sits at a table and writes. Shortly after Barrison takes the phone call, King rises and heads to the bathroom line, stumbling and bumping in to Agent Mason on the way. He apologizes to Mason, asks the patron at the back of the bathroom line, “Is this the line for the bathroom?”, briefly waits in line, and then returns to his seat. After sitting he remarks to Agent Barrison (who is sitting at his table) that the line to the bathroom is “long”.

Agent King bumps in to Agent Mason
5. Agent Keech enters from outside with a boombox playing “Shiny Happy People” by R.E.M. The song is approximately 15 seconds underway when he enters. Keech dances through the Starbucks and exits out the door on the opposite side.

Agent Keech with boombox
6. Agent Kula sits and reads a copy of ESPN The Magazine. After Keech exits he sneezes loudly, waits two beats, and then clears his throat. Moments after his sneeze, Agents Todd and Dippold enter and the loop starts again. Agent Kula is also responsible for placing the cell phone call that makes Agent Barrison’s phone ring.

This sequence of events was repeated seamlessly for one hour.


Agent Mason
Agent King, Agent Barrison and I come in to look for tables. There is an open table right near the door; I throw my book bag on it. We look around for other tables, but only find one. Me at the one by the door, and Agent King and Agent Barrison on the one a level above us.

I get a grande regular coffee and a water. The girl behind the counter is REALLY nice to me.

I sit down at the table and Agent Kula asks to sit at my table. I decide I am a student working on a philosophy paper, and wait for Agent Todd and Dippold to start the loop.


Loop begins. Agent Todd and Dippold enter. One minute later, I decide to try and spill coffee. I let the cup fall over, and as I planned, just a bit of coffee leaks out. I say, “God…dammit.” Run across the Starbucks to get napkins, run back, clean up the mess, run to throw the napkins out, trot back. The coffee spilled correctly, so I decide I’m going to go with that. The rest of the loop goes as planned.


First repeated loop. I try to spill coffee as before but the entire top pops off and 75% of a grande coffee goes over the table and floor around us. “GOD DAMMIT.” I run to get a ton of napkins, wipe off the table, apologize to Agent Kula, run back for more napkins, clean up, more napkins to clean the floor some, throw them out, then I give up. Agent Todd and Dippold exit through my puddle of coffee. In the middle of this loop, the Starbucks guy comes with a mop to clean up the mess. I say, “Thanks.” He says, “No problem.” When Agent Keech walks through, there is no more coffee. A large man, a large woman, and another greasy looking older man sit at the table opposite the door from Agent Kula and I.


Loop repeats. From here on out my loop actually is the same each time mostly: I decide to spill water now. I take the top off the clear cup, drink it, spill some down my shirt, say “God damn it”, put the cap back on, run to get napkins, run back, as I crumble the napkin and place it on the pile of napkins on my table, I laugh to Agent Kula as though to say, “Heh, what a day!”, get back to studying, Agent King hits me, I glare at him, put my hands on my face, recenter, glare a little at Agent King on his way back, get back to work, Agent Kula sneezes, I bless him, I finish a page of writing as Agent Todd and Dippold appear to start the loop over, and get to the end of a paragraph to take a sip of water, which starts my loop over.


Loop repeats. After Agent Todd says, “Katie!” I hear a woman at a table above us: “We seen that the third time. The same direction, the same face. How many times do you see the same thing like that?”


Loop repeats. After Agent Todd and Dippold leave, the old man says, “Katie has gone out of here three times.”


Loop repeats. When Agent Todd and Dippold enter, the old people: “They always come back holding hands.” “Wouldn’t you give up after the second time?” “If I were him, I’d say, ‘Fine! Leave! I’ll just be here!'” Another table comments on Agent Keech: “Look. This guy with the boombox, he keeps coming in that side.” “Here he comes! Here he comes!!”


Loop repeats. Agent Todd and Katie come in, the old people say, “She’s just gonna run out on him.” When Agent Keech enters, the other table says: “And it all begins again.” The old people: “He just makes a circle.” “They should have a video of this.” The other table is chatting, looking for what else is repeating.


Loop repeats. The old couple pay no attention to Agent Todd and Katie. Have they lost interest? No, they notice other things, but like Agent Todd/Katie: “The loud yelling ‘Katie!’, that’s the funny one.” Regarding Agent Barrison: “This happened before, too, the 9pm.” Regarding Agent King hitting me: “Look! He hit him again!” “You could just stay here all day, and they’d keep doing it. They should charge admissions, to just sit here all day and watch.” The old people now notice almost everything, even Agent Kula’s sneeze (as it happens right in front of them). Best line of the day from the old people: “You know, there’s another Starbucks right over there, I bet this is all happening there, too.”


Loop repeats. Overheard someone else: “It’s the same sequence.” Table behind Agent Barrison, Agent King: “You think Starbucks always has people in here doing stuff like this?”


Loop repeats. Old people haven’t said much in a while, then: “Hey, where’s Katie? Oh! There she goes, there she goes!” The table behind Agent Barrison and Agent King get up to leave, the woman seems to be stressed by the whole thing, like we’ve made her feel like she’s been here longer than she really has, she overhears the old people exclaim about Katie: “Yeah, they’ll go around maybe like five more times after you leave.” Young Asian girl passes Agent Keech as she leaves: “What is up with that guy, man?” Girl behind me (excitedly): “The SAME THING’S happening over and over.”


Loop repeats. Another guy: “That’s scary. They shouldn’t do that.” When Agent King comes back from restroom: “See? That just happened. That … scene. It all just happened.”


Loop repeats. The past two times I’ve gotten napkins, the Starbucks guy is by them, I say, “I’m sorry,” he says, “No problem.” A guy leaving the Starbucks bumps into me, a la Agent King, and says, “I’m sorry.”

End of final loop.

I clean up the now fairly large pile of napkins. I pack up my stuff. Agent King, Agent Barrison are also leaving, as I return from throwing out the napkins, they are in my way, so I bump into Agent King hard and say, “I’m sorry” sarcastically, and glare a little. I leave, and meet up with other agents at the B&N.

Agent Todd
We met up at our usual coordinates, the Starbucks Caf� in the Astor Place Barnes and Noble (a corporation inside a corporation!). We took a group photo, synchronized our watches/cell phones/iPods and headed to the Starbucks across the street (there are three Starbucks within spitting distance in this area).

Agents Dippold, Keech and I stayed outside while the others entered and found their tables. Dippold and I gave them a good five minutes to get settled before we made our entrance. This particular Starbucks is one of the largest in the city. It’s always filled with NYU types who camp out at tables for hours at a time, reading and studying. We essentially had a captive audience, and our stage played like Theatre in the Round; there were eyes on us coming from all sides.

I held the door open for three ladies as I entered (I repeated holding the door for the same length of time at every subsequent loop, despite their being no one to hold it for). A few steps inside the door, Agent Dippold and I joined hands. We slowly made our way to the register area, carefully memorizing every step we would have to repeat eleven times.

Once Agent Mason had returned to his table with napkins and had commenced cleaning up, Agent Dippold and I began our argument. Our exit was quite loud with me yelling, “Come back!” in an exasperated tone. We walked around the corner, passed Agent Keech coolly leaning against the wall with his boombox, ready to enter. We waited about two minutes before it was time to re-enter.

We were largely unnoticed on our second entrance. By the third loop, it was clear that we were being watched by nearly everyone in the room. Two men sitting a table near us even switched seats so they could get a different view of the action. On our third exit, I noticed that Agent Barrison’s cell phone was ringing right as we walked out the door. This continued to happen at the exact same moment every subsequent loop. Agent Kula’s timing on the phone call was dead on.

On the sixth loop, a Starbucks employee, obviously hip to our antics, approached me and asked for the time. I looked at my watch and replied “5:25”. He smiled and said, “Thanks. I hope everything is going ok.” For the remaining five loops, I looked at my watch and said “5:25” at the exact same moment; it was now part of our sequence.

On the twelfth and final loop, we switched shirts and roles. The same employee approached us again:

Employee: Hello. I just want to make sure that everything is ok with you guys.
Agent Todd: Yeah…
Agent Dippold: We were going to get something to drink if that’s ok.
Employee: (timidly) Yes. Yes. I’m so sorry to bother you…
Agent Todd: No problem.
Employee: I’m so sorry…it’s just…all these people back there…(pointing to the other agents)…I feel like this is some kind of “instant replay”. Anyway, I’m so sorry to bother you.

We completed the loop, circled the block, and met up with the rest of the team back at our starting point. Being outside for two of the five minutes of the loop, much of what had happened was unknown to us. Even after repeating our sequence twelve times, we really had no idea how the mission as a whole had gone.

Agent Dippold
To our audience, it seemed as though the first couple of times Agent Todd and I repeated our loop we were fighting then making up and coming back. Each time we returned, I felt more heads turn to watch. When I stormed out we would walk around the corner and while waiting I would fix my hair in the GAP window … So I wonder if the GAP had its own deja vu thing going with this girl who kept appearing in the window every five minutes fixing her hair.

Agent Kula
Agent Mason’s “Goddammit!” was definitely a hook: customers in the area around us would turn around each time to see what had just happened, and then they’d watch Mason’s sad dash from the table to the napkins dispenser all the way across the room.

It was the perfect blend of hilarious and pitiful, like these people (myself included) wanted to laugh but at the same time felt so bad for this poor guy whose shirt kept getting more and more soaked.

Every single time after Mason brought back the napkins and toweled himself off, I’d look up from my magazine and we’d share one of those half-smile/half-shrug looks like, “Yep, it’s just one of those days…”

At first I was nervous that someone was going to spot me using my phone and would put it together that I was the one calling Agent Barrison, so I hid the phone in my lap, underneath my copy of ESPN The Magazine.

I realized halfway through the mission that the way I was fiddling with this hidden phone, it must have looked like I was playing with myself — while reading ESPN The Magazine.

I came awfully close to breaking the first time Agent Keech walked in. Not so much because, you know, here’s a dude in Starbucks with a boombox kicking out the jams, as it was here’s a dude in Starbucks with a boombox kicking out “Shiny Happy People.”

When Agents Dippold and Todd enter for the fifth or sixth time. A table of older customers seated by the door is watching them:

Old Guy 1: Uh oh, look … here comes “Katie” again! Watch, they’re holding hands now, but she’s gonna storm out soon.
(Dippold and Todd begin arguing at the counter)
Old Guy 2: Here it comes, here it comes!
Dippold (rushing out): I can’t believe you’re doing this.
Todd: Come back … come back! Katie! (exits)
Old Guy 1: See, I told you! “Come back, Katie!” Ha ha haa, s’like that every time… (whole table cracks up)
Old Guy 2: What are we, in a time warp?

Agent Barrison
At minute two, Agent Kula would call my cell phone. I would let it ring for about 20 seconds, answer it, and move near the door to get better reception. After about 20 more seconds I’d make my plans to meet at a bar at 9 and resume sitting and reading.

By the third of fourth iteration, people started noticing. At one point, a patron was seated at the table near the door where I took my call. He was sitting with an older couple, and all three of them were on to what was occurring. This huge mass of human saw me coming at perhaps the fifth loop and said, “Look at this dork.” Look at this dork, indeed.

Sitting in front of me and behind Agent King was a couple. It seems the romance had gone out of their relationship. After seeing Agent Todd chase after Agent Dippold, the woman asked her companion, “Would you chase after me life that?” Her companion replied, “Hell no! You can chase your own damn self around the block!” Love was certainly in the air. Over and over again.

A student was sitting at a table behind me. She caught on pretty quickly, and by the tenth time had the entire loop memorized. She was talking to all the people sitting around her, pointing out each piece of the cycle. She called her friends and begged them to come down to see it. She thought we might have been making a movie. How right she was, thanks to Agent Winckler and his custom camera bag.

Agent King
There was a young girl sitting up beside Agent Barrison and me. She first noticed Agents Todd and Dippold on the third time through and noticed me repeating, “The line for the bathroom is really long” as well. She was mostly just watching it all. Then as things continued to progress, she started rubbing her face and shaking her head and stuff – just looking really confused.

Her confusion was eased when she discovered someone else who was noticing what was going on. She and the guy down near Agent Winckler started talking and pointing out the series of events, saying stuff like, “Here comes radio guy again!”

She started laughing then and watching it all happen, kind of cueing it. Then she and the Starbucks employee talked and he said he had noticed it too. They were all kind of giggling and not sure what to say.

Her phone rang and she said, “You’ve got to come down here! The same thing keeps happening over and over again. No! The same exact thing. The same people keep doing the same things. I’m freaking out. It’s like the Twilight Zone!”

She was still there when we left.

Agent Winckler
I took the opportunity to modify my courier bag into a hidden camera rig by cutting away fabric behind an existing transparent ID card pocket. Once I packed a few precision T-shirts around my camera, it was ready to go.

After grabbing some wretched Starbucks tea, I situated myself at a table where I could tape the time warped action of the other I.E. agents. I set my bag on the table and hit the RECORD button. To cover my pans, I fiddled with the junk in my bag and called my voicemail, pretending to make notes on my PDA as I shoved the bag back and forth.

A nice Amerasian guy at the table next to me saw the camera. At one point about halfway through the mission, thinking to throw off suspicion, I inquired of him, ‘is there something weird going on?’ He said, ‘well, you’re filming it.’ I was at a bit of a loss. He pressed me for information and I told him I’d let him know what we were doing after it was over–‘mum’s the word, eh?’ He was the first to notice something weird, I think. It was awesome to see him close his textbook, smiling eagerly, as he waited to see what would happen next.

After I spoke to him, he went over to another table of onlookers to compare notes. They clapped and laughed as Agent Keech walked through with his boombox again and again. When I left, I gave the guy and his new friend–another ecstatic observer who had memorized the sequence of events in the time warp–a note with our website address. Then, setting camera to shoulder, I strode out of Starbucks and into legend.

Agent Winckler

All photos taken with this hidden camera bag

Strangers laugh and share their experience

Employee and customer

Strangers point and predict the next move in the loop
Mission Accomplished.


  1. I think this is the best piece of improv you guys have done. Probably the most technically complex as well, but wonderful.

    I was wondering if the video could be made available to interested parties (its probably much too large for posting).?

    Please feel free to email

  2. Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!

    Yo guys.. it’s just… AWESOME! I gotta do this with my friends too!


  3. The repeating loop is a brilliant idea. Congratulations, and well done. Thanks for the excellent report as usual.

  4. This, more than any of the other improvs, DEFINITELY needs to be made available for download! If not the entire 11 loops, then just the first one and one of the later ones. I NEED TO SEE IT!

  5. Just discovered this site and have spent way too long procrastinating from a paper here. Anyway this is the tops of everything you’ve done so far (I also love pantless and the hypnotizer guy).

  6. I bet for the rest of the day everyone was watching very carefuly for reocurences…now it would have been awesome if strangers got involved. Muaha!

  7. This is a brilliant idea. In Minneapolis, a couple years ago, CONvergence (a local SF convention) had their theme being “Time Travel.” One thing we wanted to do, but couldn’t get volunteers and planning sufficient to pull it off, was EXACTLY what you did at Starbucks!


    This is amazing and I’m simply saddened that I missed it!

  8. You guys rock :)
    I’d also love to see a downloadable clip of one of the loops.
    Funny to read about the girl who thought she was losing it!

  9. I love the site and all the missions, but this one is definitely my favourite. Keep up the good work!

  10. I keep wondering what my reaction would’ve been if I’d seen it. Would I have caught on? Would I have been overcome with panic thinking I’d finally gone over the edge completely? Who knows…

  11. I heard about your mission on This American Life and found your website. The Starbucks missing was great! Thanks.

  12. I heard about your mission on this American Life and found your website. The Starbucks … wait a minute.

  13. Simply brilliant. A friend of mine saw the hypnotist thing when she was in NYC in the fall of 2003. Then this morning another friend heard about Improv Everywhere on This American Life. Now I’ve been looking at various missions for the past half-hour; this one is definitely my favorite. You guys rock! Keep it up, I can’t wait to see what you do next!

  14. I loved hearing about your mission and this loop on TAL.

    You’re probably aware of this — maybe the inspiration? — a short movie titled “Tango” by Zbigniew Rybcynski, which is an amazing loop with a dozen or more players — won an Oscar in 1983. Saw it at an animation festival years ago.

  15. You are great. I would be very interested in buying videos of your missions. Please consider selling them on your web site.

  16. I think my hometown (Miami) could use a little of this – ever think about going other places?
    Simply hilarious!

  17. I also heard about you on TAL, and I also would be interested in videos of your missions. I’ve spent over an hour reading about and watching your missions and wish that you could come perform in Utah.

  18. I just came across your site from a friends LiveJournal. He linked to the LOOK UP MORE mission, but I think this one is the best I’ve read so far. I agree with others, I would REALLY like to see a video clip of this one!

  19. I heard about this skit as well as a few others on “This American Life”. I find this to be brilliant and hilarious. I think what you’re doing is great, so keep it up!

    p.s. You should start another branch here in southern California.

  20. I was driving down the freeway when a police officer pointed a radar detector towards me, my left eye started “vibrating/burning”. Is this normal?

  21. This is amazing! Would you guys come to Boston/Cambridge to do this? Please??? I want to see this live…..

  22. I always use to do my comments in english… but if you are interested of what a Mexican guy can say about you….

    Primero que nada felicidades… Hace ya bastante tiempo que estoy interesado en happenings y todas las formas de arte no-objetual. Yo estoy por arrancar algo similar a lo de ustedes aqui en Cancun, Mexico. Han sido una gran inspiracion para lo que pretendo hacer en los proximos dias.

    Su trabajo es genial…

    Hacer reir a la gente es lo mas hermoso que hay en el mundo… El arte mas grande


  23. Y’all need to watch Run Lola Run. It’s a German movie with Franke Potente reliving the same ten minutes three times over, each time very slightly different. Similarly brilliant. Wonderful job, guys!

  24. Great stuff guys, some of my friends and I recently just performed a watered-down version of this (not enough people) at our Starbucks after seeing this. Thanks for the inspiration, we hope to do it in full form soon!

  25. This is the most fabulous prank by far. It has to be repeated again! and again.. and again…

  26. My favorite missions to read about are the ones that make friends out of strangers. I think there are few things in this world as beautiful as that.

  27. It strikes me that no one tried to help the couple or the guy who spoils his drink. I mean, how often do you wish you could go back in time and make words unsaid or change what happened? And now you see other people and don’t help them… if I remember correctly, in most of the moebius / time warp stories the heros had to change something in order to end the moebius (or to prevent it from starting!) or to clean up time.

  28. You should do this in a street as well – perhaps near those caricaturists! See if they notice. You could have a guy trip up, a girl piggyback by, someone could peer at the caricatures but not say anything unless pressed…

  29. You guys are Gods… GODS!!! I am a highschooler and you have inspired me to re-create this mission with a few of my friends… excellent. The world salutes you all.

  30. It’s amusing that TV/The Twilight Zone has become this comparative alternate reality, which apparently can only be comprehended with humor for the customers and robotic self-awareness/aversion of at least one worker. It’s as if becoming the part of the TV show, in part, allowed the customers to fulfill some sort of uninhibited state of child-like fascination.

  31. This one is great! While looking at the site I began to think you should do a time loop, and here you have! I only hope sometime I can see "Katie come back!"

  32. Brilliant!! A friend recommended this after I had them read "sure Thing" by David Ives, which is similar, but it must have been much better in real life. I can tell that I will be spending a lot of time at this site when I should be doing other things… but it’s worth it!

  33. this is among the best missions i’ve seen on this site.

    i think you guys should seriously consider doing some of your stunts/missions outside of New York City, at least every once in a while. and always remember to keep your missions low-key, and not to become too known to the outside world, especially not to any news media anywhere in the world(so that the surprise factor remains for all your future missions). but i’ll remain a loyal reader regardless of where you choose to do your missions(i still strongly hope though you do a mission outside of NYC someday, though!).

  34. i think you should put some of the video clips on your website.

    try to avoid too much media, because that could ruin future missions

  35. I love what you guys do. Time Warp is your best ever! I wish I lived in NYC so I could join your venture. BTW. Time Warp can be successfully re-done hundreds of times in a city like NY.

  36. this is probably the most innovative and most fun thing that i have ever seen, and i love that you guys are just doing it to show everyone a good time, please keep doing what you do, its the best stuff that ive ever seen!

  37. Totally superific…good clean fun – literally….as you did have some cleanup to do ! thanks you perked my day ! If I was 30 yrs younger …would try to join or start a group instead of watching !! Hope I see you somewhere !! Keep on truckin’and have fun!!!

  38. You guys are freakin Geniuses!!!!!

    I always loved the concept of flash mobbing. Same kind of planned, unexpected, controlle chaos. You guys freakin rock!

  39. Like many others, I wish I could have seen this one live. Totally trippy and absolutely fun.

    Keep up the good work!

  40. "Another guy: ‘That’s scary. They shouldn’t do that.’"

    That’s the most fun overheard comment for this prank.

    I love this!

  41. so i guess the two guys that had witnessed the whole thing and then gotten the url for this site had nothing to add on here…

  42. What an absolutely brilliant mission under the umbrella of a brilliantly creative group of people. Thank God for people like yourselves who throw a wrench into the mundane routine of others in a positive, humorous fashion. I only wish I could be there to participate in these activities. A time loop, at Starbucks, HA! You made my week. Thanks for making me laugh and smile!

  43. Well-executed. Now, what you have to do to really manipulate the victim(s) is make it a completely closed system with only a handful (or just 1!) person not in on it. If you could somehow close off the location after it started (difficult, it would have to be only semi-public), then each actor would not necessarily be a part of the loop, but would play aloof, or become part of the loop with the victim (eg, if they asked you if you noticed something strange going on, you would always give the same answer..) Like a Deja-vu Punk’d episode. You could really mess someone up I think!

  44. This mobius used the same people for each part of the loop. With a similar stunt, you could have different people repeat the loop each time, so that the employees and other customers DON’T know who is regular customer, and who is going to repeat the actions. This would be very effective if you had different ages, and races, but keep "Katie" as the same name. Meanwhile, this IS happening at other Starbucks around the area, because your participating couples are each on a "route" looping from one store to the next, to re-enact the loop.

  45. As amusing as you think this "time warp" skit you guys did is, I did not think it was at all funny. You indirectly disrupted the customers and you also broke a rule in which pictures of ANY kind (still photo, videotape or otherwise) are not allowed to be taken inside of a Starbucks, unless you are an official member of the press, with permission. If I was a customer there when that happened, I would’ve immediately complained to the manager and had him kick you out. Starbucks is known as being a "third home" environment, where people want to have coffee in peace, and you manage to ruin that for everyone. Thanks a lot, you arrogant bastards.

  46. * The above comment is Copyright © 2006 Starbucks Corporation, Marketing and PR Division.

  47. i cant speak for all, but it sounds like all the commentors…especially those that are COFFEE CUSTOMERS loved as for me. it definitely made my day reading about this. wish i was there. very new and refreshing as opposed to such a sequential cycle of our own daily lives where we are afraid of new things. i think if i want a peaceful go starbucks is more social. and to see real people doing real interesting and original things…thats genius and rare.

  48. Well, only the one person without a sense of humour it seems. Plus la change! >.>

    If you wanted to do a remake of this, maybe a spreading loop would be a good idea?

    One person/couple/group begins the loop, and as it keeps looping, more Agents are drawn into the loop, starting with the closest to the first and moving out.

    The time warp ensnares more people! Would be interesting to see the reactions of ordinary customers as it progressed.

  49. My sister listened to your interview on a radio show about this in her english class? and I had to read about it. This is by far the funniest thing EVER! Is there a video clip? I would love to see it!

  50. There is indeed a video clip. It will be an "exclusive" on the forthcoming IE DVD. Sign our mailing list so you’ll find out when it arrives.

  51. Really? People consider Starbucks a 3rd home?

    Awesome mission guys, I would’ve given up my 2nd home to have been there.

  52. Man. I’m gonna invite that Starbucks guy to my next party. That’ll really liven things up.

    EXCELLENT gag! This is my new favorite site!

  53. To Michael (who just posted above me) I was reminded so much of that episode until I looked through my collection and found "Time Squared".

    Other than that little bit of Star Trek nostalgia, I absolutely love this mission – creative, fun, and wonderful acting; I (an amateur actor) have noted with admiration how all the agents in each mission keep a straight face and play the roles marvelously despite the occasinonal lack of experience.

    As for the annonymous Starbucks Employee: I appreciate that you are concerned for the safety of the particular shop; after all, this would be a great idea for criminals to use as a diversion, but I seriously doubt a customer would be completely upset by this occurance; anyone watching with interest would see that it is a performance; not vandalism or burglary. Anyone not interested would, at worst, have their daily routine disrupted; hardly something to shed tears over – most of us need the occasional shake-up every now and then.

    Kudos to thee, IE; keep pluggin’ along! ~ Ferrard

  54. In art, as in life, it’s really all about the process, as you guys seem to recognize. Nice work.

  55. This mission was just what I needed to hear about today. Thanks for existing. You guys are great!

  56. Definitely your best so far. (Although I need to catch up on your more recent stuff. Please make a video available!)

  57. You guys… totally rock my world. And made my day a whole lot brighter. I live in a very small town (and very.. VERY boring town) and I plan on getting a group of friend together like this to brighten everyone’s day.

    Thanks a lot!
    Now I just have to learn bellydancing.. hmmm..
    D’oh, plotting aloud. Keep up the AWESOME work. ♥

  58. That was amazing. Well done guys. I wonder how I would have reacted if I noticed a loop of events occuring around me. I’m sure it must have been quite disconcerting… I definately need to attempt something like this over here in South Africa. Amazing :-)

  59. Starbucks guy is nearly as funny as the mission. I think he intended it that way, since it’s called the 3rd PLACE, not home.

  60. Dude, this is awesome. You guys just made my day. I spend my day job studying quantum physics as a graduate student, this just put a smile on the sometimes dull studies. Keep up the good work!

  61. You guys are my heroes. SERIOUSLY. If only you weren’t on the other side of the country! I have DREAMED about doing something like this for YEARS, but I never have the time or the means of conveyance. The group is genius, and I’m envious of what you folks have been able to accomplish. Keep it up!

  62. Hilarious! As everyone else said, do some of these stunts outside of NYC so the rest of us can have some fun too!

  63. this is quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen. Of course, I’ve thought that about almost all of your pranks…

  64. I would love to see this happening! Is there a video recording of this mission available online?

  65. hey just wanted to say that these are pretty sweet ideas. would you guys take any offence if i tried something like this here in Canada? if not, any tips on how to get it all started?

    Great stuff!

  66. Wow…I couldn’t help laughing and at the same time feeling moved…what a powerful idea, indeed a "mission"…we need more people like you in this world!!!!

  67. a Starbucks employee said:
    "As amusing as you think this "time warp" skit you guys did is, I did not think it was at all funny. You indirectly disrupted the customers and you also broke a rule in which pictures of ANY kind (still photo, videotape or otherwise) are not allowed to be taken inside of a Starbucks, unless you are an official member of the press, with permission. If I was a customer there when that happened, I would’ve immediately complained to the manager and had him kick you out. Starbucks is known as being a "third home" environment, where people want to have coffee in peace, and you manage to ruin that for everyone. Thanks a lot, you arrogant bastards."

    Waylan says:

    "Get a life, you gigantic loser!"

  68. Very, very funny. You guys are awesome. I think this is the best improvisation you guys have done. Perhaps even the most technically complex, but wonderful of course. It’s just awesome! I gotta do this with my friends too! The repeating loop is a brilliant idea. Congratulations on a job well done. Thanks for the excellent report, as usual. Do some more like it!

  69. Though it is hard to really make a point as to which mission is my favorite, I really love this particular one. I think it would be really amazing if you guys were to do one again. However, aside from No Pants Day, I know you usually do not repeat missions. But if you were to pick one to do over… I really love this one.

  70. This is fabulous theatre! A friend of mine just sent me this link, saying he thought it was up my alley. If only I lived in NY and could join your group!

  71. Congratulations. Heard your story today on (what must have been a repeat of) This American Life, and RAN to check out your website. Ended up having a really heated conversation with my boyfriend about whether your missions are ethical. Although The Moebius is pretty clearly OK, my bf thought the one with Ghosts of Pasha went to far. I disagree. After all, how many days of your life do you actually remember for years to come. Way to go.

  72. My guess the video isn’t up is because of some corporate law/litigation thing. I saw the video a long time ago, but starbucks, if i remember correctly has some very strict media laws.

  73. Cool! Now if someone will do that here in Shanghai at the local Starbucks, it would REALLY be funny to see the response of local Chinese patrons.

    As for photography/media rules at Starbucks, employees tolerate a certain amount of it daily especially at tourist destination Starbucks around the world. I used to host events at Starbucks and they let us shoot all the pics we wanted provided we did not offend anyone. COmmon sense is what it takes.

    Anyhow, great job guys…and now we are talking about it all the way across the globe in Shanghai. :)

  74. haha, this is an awesome idea. i love the way you guys coordinated this. i want to organize some stuff like this, maybe start an IE in Toronto.

    it’s too bad you guys didn’t have better video capabilities with better audio. oh well, the video got the idea across for sure.

    thanks for all your work, you guys sure do entertain us.

  75. Performance art, Mobeius Strip, Groundhog’s Day… it must have been delightful for the spectators.

    side note:
    Agent Winckler is adorable- just wondering if the right side of his hoodie is printed d-o ?

  76. I’ve returned to this website many times over the past few years and observed all the reports made by IEAgents. I have to say that hands down, this is the best idea. I do not say this lightly. There’s been tons of great ideas over the few years IE has been in existence. This One Is The It.

    The Moebius deserves a few repeat performances, preferably with high quality hidden cameras and mics all over the place to catch the unwitting audience’s reactions. Maybe for the tv show…?

  77. Just amazing, the world needs more laughter. It brought to mind an excellent short story by Somtow Sucharitkul entitled ‘Absent Thee from Felicity Awhile’ and, because of the hilarious social disruption, ‘Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman’ by Harlan Ellison. Long live chaos and anarchy!

  78. I heard the Moebius quote in an old Orbital song and googled it to see what it was and dropped in here. Man I wasn’t ready for this, now I’m this moebius myself and my face hurts and I can’t stop laughing! Fuck!

  79. *Standing Ovation*
    But I think the boombox should have been playing Timewarp from Rocky Horror (Picture) Show!


  80. This sounds like everyone around had fun with it once they clued in (except maybe the big rude dude who called one of y’all a dork.) That’s the best thing about this sort of stuff, when people realize it’s all in fun and it’s ok to laugh, to enjoy being silly and the random conversation of strangers. Love this one, classic!

  81. WOW! Mindblowingly!

    Seems almost perfekt.. although Dippold and Todd should have just neglected the Starbuck’s employee (12 iteration(?)), shouldn’t they? I mean, that conversation wasn’t part of their timeline.

  82. very nice , i wonder if it wend on for like 3h , would it loose all interest or would everything become total chaos?

  83. Wonderful!!! Truely hilarious! Wish I was there!!!

    My friends want to try something like that now! lol =D

  84. This is simply awesome. I wish I had been there, I truly do. I know exactly what I would’ve done. I would’ve noticed what was going on in the second loop, watched and enjoyed for a few loops…and then I would’ve joined in. It would’ve been so much fun!


    I’m beginning to feel a sense of pride every time your missions are successful. Especially hilariously nutty and dedicated ones like this!

  86. This is very creative, clever and funny = like public dance choreography. However, I don’t think there’s any need, in your report, to comment on how fat people are, or that a man is “The Fattest Man Still Able to Move On His Own”. That’s just cruel, discriminatory, disrespectful and sizist. Why on earth do you need to go there, you guys? Why?

  87. I thought this was beautifully executed for something so complex! I also noticed that Starbucks.. unlike most of the other big corporations that you used as stage, took it all in stride and relaxed with it rather than getting all freaky and calling the cops because they couldn’t understand what was going on.

  88. Zomg!
    A couple friends and I did this back in highschool… only we drove through a Tim Horton’s drivethrough about 4 times and ordered the same thing…. each time blasting the same song as we did it.

    We’d decided if we’d had more cars and more people ordering the same things over and over it woulda worked better. ^_^

    Good job!

  89. THAT’S AWESOME!!!I couldn’t stop laughing as I read it! I definitely want to try that! Wish I could’ve been there to see it!

  90. i absolutely love this! it reminds me of two nights ago, Mom was driving me home from Jujitsu and we stopped at Wendy’s to get me something to eat. since it was after 9 pm everybody else had already eaten.
    When we pulled up to pay at the drive thru, the employee goes, “Weren’t you here earlier? It’s just, I remember that LSU sweater.” Mom replied, “Well I guess we just really like Wendy’s.”
    while we do like Wendy’s we don’t like it THAT much. Mom had already been there for the rest of the family while i was at Jujitsu. What made the LSU sweater so relevant is that we recently moved to Florida.
    I think Moebius might be my favorite mission all them all!!

  91. BRILLIANT!! I live in a little city in Finland and we are going to do our first mission (Frozen) in Helsinki. I’m so looking forward to it and I hope our local group agrees that this should absolutely be done some time, too. Just an excellent idea.

  92. Brilliant!

    I performed 10 years ago a short Moebius just with 2 loops in a domestic store at the foot of a big mountain, just before climbing up. But you guys were great doing it 12 times!


  93. “Waylon” and “Starbucks” employee… Go to your nearest Proctologist. Maybe the can find your head!! Pranks always cause confusion and mayhem… Thats why they’re called PRANKS! Get a life! Then…Enjoy it!

  94. Excellent stuff. Glad I’ve been introduced to the Improv troop. As an FYI, if anyone is interested in this “mobius” act & its predictable chaos, do yourself a favour and read “The Remainder” by Tom McCarthy. Seriously. You will not regret it!

  95. Funniest thing ever? Brilliant? Creative? You guys are heroes?! I must have slipped into a parallel universe where everyone on earth is pathetically easy to amuse.

    Oh, wait, I was amused at something: the fact that you all paid so much attention to making sure you labeled every person involved correctly and respectfully, except for the OMG FAT GUY!

  96. “As amusing as you think this “time warp” skit you guys did is, I did not think it was at all funny. You indirectly disrupted the customers and you also broke a rule in which pictures of ANY kind (still photo, videotape or otherwise) are not allowed to be taken inside of a Starbucks, unless you are an official member of the press, with permission. If I was a customer there when that happened, I would’ve immediately complained to the manager and had him kick you out. Starbucks is known as being a “third home” environment, where people want to have coffee in peace, and you manage to ruin that for everyone. Thanks a lot, you arrogant bastards.”

    Ahahaha! And here we thought this person was at least pretending to be intelligent until they resorted to stupid insults. Uh, in case you hadn’t noticed, everyone pretty much enjoyed the show. Let’s face it: an ordinary Starbucks is boring. IE should be applauded for spicing up an otherwise dull scene, and I know, had I been there, that I would have joined in!
    Gosh, I wish I could do this somewhere…

  97. Awesome. I have to say this is better than the No Pants series. You guys should do another one of this in the future.

  98. Considering I convinced myself once the earth rotated backwards or something because I had clearly gone backwards in time (…in my sophomore year of COLLEGE), this would have completely freaked me out. Well done!

  99. what if you guys did this (and actually cooperated with whatever establishment this time) and had something bad happen that people would see. and then do it again and again until someone has the sense to try and stop it? it would be kind of a human experiment. I really wonder what people would do.

  100. ‘The Entertainer’ by Billy Joel??
    That tickles me.
    Plus this is a Star Trek related prank…which tickles me even more for some reason.

    Anyway, cool name and awesome song aside, this prank is awesome and should be repeated often and in various places around the world.

    Starbucks employees basically watch the same thing all day anyway, I don’t know why they think they have any good reasons to complain about this stunt.
    “How dare you amuse us at work! Work is for WORKING!”

    I work at a jail. Any time you want to come spice it up a little…


  101. just found you guys randomly online and i think london (UK) could do with some of your randomness..come over here and get in touch sometime… im off to try and organize something similar over here :) keep up the great work

  102. A classic – I just spent practically the whole afternoon watching other missions but this may still be my favorite. One of the greatest parts of this scene, and many others, is the way that others around the participants start to talk and interact — humor and bizarreness are humanizing forces. It seems like often strangers tend to only interact based on common complaints — so great to see them connect with positivity!

  103. @newcomer,

    I just wanted to say I really like what you said there. It’s true, the only time we strike up conversations with strangers in public places is to bitch about something. “Why can’t they have more than 2 windows open at the post office?” “Man, it’s hot out here.” You would never say, “Hey this is a beautiful day,” or “Wow, this line is moving quickly,” to a stranger. So yeah, I like that sometimes our missions get people to talk about something that’s awesome rather than terrible.

  104. Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

    Awesomeness. I would love to do be be involved with a stunt like this. Maybe i can get some friends and put something together. hmmm

  105. this is so so so so amazing! i love your work, and this is by far my favorite one. what a great idea. :]

    is there any way to see a full, or longer version of this scene?? please e-mail me:

    thanks so much!

  106. I loved this one. It tops everything I’ve seen so far.

    The ‘Where time becomes a loop…’ in the video got a bit annoying though.

  107. funny. you guys are great. I don’t even get to pull a simple trick and here you are doing complex pranks! KEep them scenes coming.

  108. this is the crazyest thing i have heard– freaken cool as helll- i’d trip out …. just thinking of sattilite coffee shops in alb- would scare the hell out of people- would be weird and great- when your part of the act- no probem but when your the visitor- the witness-
    you can see people shaking their heads and smiling and laughing—( just a normal state hospital..) hahahhah- nice and crazy like tagging the subway system in plain daylight… ( ummm what was i suppose to do officer –?)

  109. “By the third of fourth iteration, people started noticing. At one point, a patron known to me only as Fattest Man Still Able to Move on His Own was seated at the table near the door where I took my call. He was sitting with an older couple, and all three of them were on to what was occurring. This huge mass of human saw me coming at perhaps the fifth loop and said, “Look at this dork.” Look at this dork, indeed.”

    This is the funniest part of everything I read! I literally laughed out loud to the dismay of everyone in my very quiet workplace.

  110. This was awesome, seriously. I’d love to do something like this, but I wouldn’t have the patience to get this right. xD


  111. I’ve been looking at this website for hours. So far, this is my favorite mission by a long shot. I, like several other commenters, was extremely disappointed when I realized I couldn’t watch the actual video. If the DVD is out and it has the video, I would buy it solely to watch the performance of The Moebius – that’s how badly I want to see it. If IE chose to make the video available only on DVD as a strategy to raise funds for the group, I completely understand that reason. However, if we can’t watch the video online or possibly ever because of Starbucks and some bullshit corporate litigation, (which I fear is the case) that is really sad. And if that’s the case, I almost wish this story would receive some publicity – if Starbucks really wants to embody the mindset expressed by the “Starbucks employee” above, they should really publicize that more. Then the rest of us would know to stop going there. I, for one, would sacrifice my so-called “privacy” any day of the WEEK to experience an event so hilarious, unexpected, and fascinatingly wierd. I suppose if routine, predictability, and control are the things you look for in life, this would be a turn-off though…

    I have to indulge one more response to “Starbucks employee”: Clearly there were people in the store who appreciated and enjoyed this event. If you think that a good number of customers were put off by the event, I think you’re probably pretty out of touch with your consumer base, and you’ll eventually lose all the customers who DON’T go to Starbucks for “privacy”.

  112. I have to say that I utterly enjoyed this brilliant mission. There are a couple of reasons: first it is because ‘Time’s Arrow’ is easily one of my top favorite Next Gen episodes and It tickeld me to know that such a thing could be brought successfully into reality.
    Secondly I love anything to do with the concept of temporal physics and the like. There is just nothing else that fascinates me more, which is odd considering that I loath math and could never leard about the technical side of the theories without my head exploading.
    There is good reason to make this an annual, the same way the No Pants event is. You could even make the ending depend on a bystander. For instance one of the parts could be a woman getting her purse snatched, while surrounded by all the other participating agents doing their thing, and the loop would continue until a Good Samaritan stopped the crime. As a back up plan you could have a plant ‘bystander’ to stop the crime if the audience members are taking to long to help out.
    Anyway, Completely brilliant. Keep up the good work.

    P.S. Agent Winckler is NOT ugly!

  113. Thanks. Thanks for bringing a smile to so many faces! How do all you agents keep your straight faces during all these antics?! Creative, well thought out, great execution, all to amuse the rest of us stuck in our dull lives. Too bad about the comment regarding the overweight guy, sort of a rotten spot in an otherwise perfect piece of fruit. Maybe you could stick to remarks that continue the giddiness you all are so deliciously adept at creating.

  114. you guys are incredibly brilliant. I love it.

    “At one point, a patron known to me only as Fattest Man Still Able to Move on His Own was seated at the table near the door where I took my call. He was sitting with an older couple, and all three of them were on to what was occurring. This huge mass of human saw me coming at perhaps the fifth loop and said, “Look at this dork.” Look at this dork, indeed.”

    hahaha nice

  115. This was by far the most interesting one so far. The idea should be done in different cities in different places (a bar, during the slow times maybe?)

  116. This must have been the second best flash right after “Frozen Grand Central”. Too bad it could only be seen by few people and was recorded only partly by that hidden camera. You should do that again in a much bigger place and make films about it with more cameras hidden at fixed spots (just like Food Court Musical or Grocery Store Musical)

    My gosh, I would also love to be part of it! :D

  117. This one is probably my all-time favorite, closely followed by Frozen Grand Central. You guys should do something like this again!! On a larger scale, maybe? Or for a longer time? I’d love to witness one of these, or maybe participate! Haha! Keep it up!