Celebrity Trash

Featuring: Todd, Winckler, King, Keech, Kula, DeJong
DV Cam: Agent Winckler
Digital Photography: Agent Kula
Graphics: Agent DeJong

On March 12, 2004, a piece of French toast half-eaten by pop star Justin Timberlake was sold on eBay for $3,154 by Radio Station Z100.

On June 19, Improv Everywhere decided to get a piece of that action. We set up a table on 44th Street just a few steps East of Times Square and held up a large sign that advertised “Celebrity Trash For Sale”. On the table, we had a delightful assortment of trash that we claimed was taken directly from the trashcans of New York celebrities.

Matthew Broderick’s Hot Sauce
Each item had a “Certificate of Authenticity” on it, which gave the celebrity’s name and the date that the trash was “rescued”. We set the prices at our whim and they were always negotiable. Trash with actual saliva remnants (and therefore DNA!) was usually priced higher. We can’t just give away Jerry Seinfeld’s toothbrush. You have to pay the big bucks. ($6).

Jerry Seinfeld’s discarded tooth brush

Mayor Bloomberg’s Goya beans

Paris Hilton’s water jug
As folks walked by (mostly tourists in the Times Square area for a Broadway matinee), we shouted at them, shilling for our trash. Most people laughed and kept walking.

Some folks stopped and took advantage of the opportunity to touch items once used by the rich and famous. (Whether or not they believed it to be the real deal.)

A man inspects Tom Brokaw’s Bud Light bottle

Agent Todd quotes a $3 price for David Letterman’s saline solution
Going through celebrity trashcans and dumpsters night after night is not an easy job, but sometimes the trash comes to you.

A large group passed our table and seemed to take particular enjoyment to our operation. A young guy from the group started to shout:

Guy: Do y’all want my trash?
Agent Todd: Are you a celebrity?
Guy’s Friend: He’s Donald Faison!!
Agent Todd: (not knowing who that is, goes along with it anyway) Sure, dude!
Donald Faison: Here you go! (takes out used napkin and places on table)

Donald Faison
You may know Donald Faison from his work on NBC’s Scrubs or one of the many films he’s been in, including Clueless.

Agents Keech and King proudly show off Donald Faison’s napkin

Donald Faison’s used napkin ($2)
Lucky for us, Faison wasn’t the only celeb to drop by the Trash Table.

Out in Times Square selling photos to tourists (presumably promoting Spider-Man 2?), Spidey was kind enough to give us a bit of his own trash!

Spider-Man’s discarded unsold photo ($4)
Most of our day, however, was spent with everyday folks who were excited to take a look at actual celebrity trash.

It was hard to get some people to stop, even with our “Free to look; Free to touch.” policy. (Which we thought was quite generous.)

The young people above stopped by the table and enjoyed talking to us about our goods. Things got a little awkward when we tried to sell them Sarah Jessica Parker’s doorknob to the young boy in the striped shirt.

Agent Keech: We got this doorknob out of Sara Jessica Parker’s trash just last week. Since it’s a doorknob, you know she must have touched it a million times.
10 Year Old Boy: Who?
Agent Keech: Sarah Jessica Parker.
10 Year Old Boy: …You mean… the whore?
Agent Keech: Whoa.

Pretty early in the day a man came by and kind of acted like a prick.

Agent Todd: Would you like to touch anything, sir?
Man: Who was it that went through Dylan’s trash?
Agent Todd: I’m not sure.
Man: (said in a pricky way) Well, if you’re going to do this, you should really know your history.

“You should really know your history”
The man took a look at a few of our items as Agent Winckler filmed him. He had a young guy with him who appeared to be his son. He continued to scold us for not knowing the name of the person who went through Dylan’s trash (he didn’t know it either). For those of you keeping score, it was AJ Weberman, but we really don’t see how that knowledge affects our ability to vend celebrity trash in Times Square.

About 20 minutes later, the man returned, this time alone.

Man: You’re going to have to stop doing this.
Agent Todd: What?
Man: You have to stop. You can’t film people without release forms.
Agent Todd: Yes, we can.
Man: Who is this for?
Agent Todd: It’s for the three of us.
Man: No. Who are you shooting this for? What is it?
Agent Todd: It’s for our own personal use.
Man: You can’t do this without release forms.
Agent Todd: What authority are you?


Man: I’m going to have to take your camera.

“I’m going to have to take your camera.”
The man then walked over to Agent Winckler and tried to take his video camera. Yes. That’s right. He tried to take our video camera by physically grabbing for it. Agent Winckler yanked the camera above his head and yelled, “Don’t touch me!” and, “Are you a cop?” The man backed away and returned to the table.

“I’m going to have to see all three of your driver’s licenses.”
Man: Ok. I’m going to have to see all three of your driver’s licenses.
Agent Todd: Are you a police officer?
Man: That doesn’t matter. You have to tell me who you are.
Agent Todd: My name is Charlie Todd. What is yours?
Man: It’s against the law not to have release forms.
Agent Todd: Do you think every tourist with a camera in Times Square is getting release forms from everyone they film?
Man: Why don’t I go get a police officer and have him come over here?
Agent Todd: You do that.

By this point around 10 police officers had already walked by our table, smiled, laughed, and kept walking. The man went off to find a police officer and sadly never returned. In the mean time, Agent Todd made a release form in case he came back.

Release: “I allow these dudes to film me and watch it at home”
The rest of the day went without a hitch. Folks walked by and smiled. Some stopped for a chat. Some believed us and laughed. Some didn’t believe us and laughed even more.

Jerry Seinfeld’s microwave popcorn box ($5)
The economy is bad and times are tough, but we did manage to sell Sarah Jessica Parker’s doorknob to a nice fellow for $0.50. He drove a hard bargain.

A customer!
To make a good day great, on our way home we ran into Spider-Man again! This time his suit looked a little different, and he was much taller, but he was still up to his photo selling tricks!

Agent Winckler:

We chose a good spot for our celebrity junk table — photo and tchotchke vendors on one side and a long empty approach on the other side because of the metal police barricades that were left there.

As described above, one gentleman approached us very early on in the mission and condescendingly urged us to ‘check our history’, speaking of the guy who went through Bob Dylan’s trash. I thought he said ‘Grossman’ — turns out it was ‘Weberman’.

He departed, saying ‘good luck’. About 20 minutes later he returned, agitated, and told us that we weren’t allowed to take pictures of people. He said he would take away our camera. I had removed myself to the street to get a better angle. He broke away from arguing with Agent Todd and came towards me — he actually put his hands on me, trying to get my camera while I held it away from him over the barricade. He said, ‘You aren’t
allowed to take pictures.’ I said, ‘I think I am.’ He kept blustering. I said, ‘Are you a police officer?’ He said, ‘No, but I’m going to go get one’ and left. He did not return, to our disappointment.

Agent Kula:
My favorite photo was of this one lady walking by, making this kind of “I just can’t believe it!” face and slapping her forehead. You know that the story she brings back to all the folks in Tulsa, or Naperville, or wherever, is gonna end with “(sigh, shakes head) I tell you, ONLY in New York…”

Agent Todd:

My theory on the prick dude is that he realized 10 minutes after the fact that he behaved like a huge condescending prick to us about the Dylan guy and that we had it on tape. Fearing we would air his prickishness on television, he returned thinking he could stop us. Then he acted like even more of a prick by trying to take (steal?) our camera. Good thing we have it all on tape. What a prick!

Otherwise, it was a lovely day in the sun full of laughs and good people.

Mission Accomplished.


  1. i cant believe nobody commented on this it is really funny / idont know how i got to this sght but what a fruitfull waste of time/ and no popups and other feces just a good fun web sight bravo!!!

  2. I bought the doorknob. I would have paid 75 cents for it but I don’t like that actress. Your marketing is so-so

  3. Can we still buy things or what? I’ve been waiting for your table in Reno for months. Sheesh.

  4. I can’t believe you got Donald Faison’s NAPKIN!! Will you mail it to me? I’ve got such a crush on him!

  5. You should re-do this one, but (somehow) get a celebrity of some note to play along. (Apologies to Woody Allen):
    "Dude, this is Joe Franklin’s shoe horn."
    "No, it is not."
    "Well I happen to have Joe Franklin right here."
    (Pulls Joe Franklin from behind barrier)
    "Mmmm, yes, that is my shoe horn, my friend."

  6. Question: is the camera guy possibly the same man as the one in a (very similar!) white shirt, shown in the foreground of the last photo on the ‘Amazing Mime’ writeup?

  7. Hey, I have a question and no offense to you or anything, but what is the "official" New York City policy on filming people and posting their pictures on websites? I don’t mean to offend you, I’m just curious as to what the policy is.

  8. I think, if they’re not already publicly known, they can claim their "publicity rights" were violated and sue. But who’s going to?

  9. I honestly think the prick guy was down on his luck and wanted to steal your camera to pawn it off somewhere else. Next time just to avoid pricks like that you could just hide the camera.lol.

  10. That would stink so much if someone sued u for haveing pics of them on here! I would so sell/give u "celebraty" trash if you ever came here/i went there! It would be form….ummm….. (hmm.. dont realy know who i could be)uuuhh… yeah. haha! And i think its a good idea to hide ur camara for ur missions (and i know u do for someof them) cause i know i would kinda get freaked out if some randome strangers on the streat where vidioing me or taking pictures of me and get mad at them….


  11. I’ve seen people have seriously insane reactions to things, but the prick guy absolutely takes the cake.

    yeah you can’t do this or that leagally with cameras but… the main point was already stated, think of how many accidental people are filmed and shot in photos by tourists etc in NY.

    I guess the real point would be, if you don’t want to be filmed or have your photo taken, you shouldn’t aproach 3 guys selling celebrity trash who have a video camera and are filming people, nor should you return 20 min later.

  12. I’m thinking maybe the "price guy" was wanted by police or some other organization, after he realized he was dumb enough to walk right up and make conversation about who got the trash he realized he was on tape and there was a potential it could be on tv or the internet! SUCKER!!!!!!

  13. Perhaps I remember things a bit differently, but from my old photog days, I beleive you can take pictures of anyone or anything in public. You have no expectation of privacy in a public place. I’m sure someone knows the real deal but I think that pretty much sums it up. Think poporatzy and Paris Hilton and this guy ain’t no Hilton.

  14. The post above is correct, filming in a public place is perfectly legal as long as its for personal use -ie. you’re not making money off it. Just because its on a website doesn’t change that its for personal use. So they were not doing anything illegal.

    Also, having worked in TV and needed to use impromptu release forms before, I have to say I love yours!!!

  15. for future reference – you don’t have to have a release form if the photos aren’t for commercial use and they’re taken on public property.
    no one has the right to take your film/camera unless they have a warrant.
    (i keep a list of photographer’s rights and suggest it for anyone)

  16. oh my god that’s like the best idea ever. god i hate that prick so much now grrr. i got on here from a pic of donald faison that i needed for school and im glad i did this sounds bloody hilarious.

  17. Wow. Donald Faison.

    And double-wow – guy claims you are breaking some non-existant laws and then tries to mug you for your driving license AND camera, and even claims he’s going to get a cop to witness him doing this. World’s worst mugger, perhaps? God, I wish they still showed America’s Dumbest Criminals – he would be on it for sure.

  18. You can do whatever the hell you want with the footage…


    Also, if he tried to take your camera, teach him a lesson by filing charges for attempted robbery, larceny, whatever… you have it on tape.

    If people don’t want to be filmed they can leave the public area, as long as you are being obvious about filming and not surveilling or hiding cameras.

  19. I’m sorry, but you guys need a release form to post this stuff on the web. I’m gonna have to take your domain name . . .

  20. I know who that “prick” is I laughed hard when i saw what he did to you guys. I would say his name but i dont think i need to go there.

  21. This has o be the funniest thing i’ve ever seen…bravo to my stumble button (there’s not much to do at 4:22 a.m. on a Thursday morning in the Big town of St. Joseph, IL)…good work guys…n don’t worry i had no idea who that scrubs guy was either n i’ve watched it before in my boredom!!!

  22. You should get the guy who tried to take your camera arrested on the grounds of forcibly attempting to steal it.


    Or just air the video on every video website and news agency in the world.

  23. I don’t pay much attention to celebs, but I have to say Faison is a class act for playing along. Major props, buddy!

    As for Pretentious Wannabe Camsnortcher Guy, I think you just got some great material for agents to use in future IE performances.

    “Don’t you guys know who the first subway performance artist was? You must be idiots if you don’t know. He performed for Bob Dylan himself at GCS! Gaaaaawd. You’re soooo unoriginal. [walks away, returns even more irate] O HAI, R U filming me? My rights are being violated! This is TOTALLY illegal and stuff! You’re going to have to give me your MasterCards, expensive cameras and driver’s licences NAO.”

    Then he can sing the chorus from WDDD. :)

  24. Loved that Charlie didn’t know who Donald Faison is. That just makes it all the more believable to the tourists, though.

  25. I’m lovin’ the napkin. Damn, that’s just freakin’ awesome–you got an actual celeb to give you stuff XD I hope he sees this and laughs his head off, cos I sure am! He looks cute in that picture, too! *snickers* I’m stunned no one bought the napkin, it was the only legit object! XD

  26. You guys are awesome. I’ve wasted an entire week where I should have been doing homework digging through your archives and reading up on all of your AWESOME missions. So far, either this one or the freezing in Grand Central Station take the cake. This had me busting a gut for fifteen minutes and I have to fight to keep a straight face in class and places when memories of this randomly float to the surface of my brain.

    I totally wish I could join up with you guys, but I’m stuck here in Utah, far from any of the excellent IE missions going on in New York. Maybe I’ll join in for No Pants 2K9 – apparently No Pants 2K8 had a Salt Lake City branch? Any idea how many people attended that one? Maybe I’ll go to that one too. That would be cool.

    Keep up the good work!

  27. Actually, the only time you legally need a release form is if you plan to use the photograph for advertising, if I remember correctly. By being in a public place, you kind of have to expect that you might be filmed/photographed. An artist can come to a public place and paint you/take your picture, and doesn’t have to give you a release or pay you.

  28. hey, what do you have against people living in tulsa? we’re not all cattle raising hicks, lol. ((jk, we all live in tipis xD..))

  29. Darn! I’m gonna have to get that DVD. If it is on the DVD does that mean its unedited? (Full blown thing prick included)

    That would be swweeeett

  30. this group is amazing! i want to join so bad but i live a bagillion miles away!! sad!!!
    anyway-this stuff is pure gold and hilarious!

  31. A quick vistit to ‘kapedia will tell you: The prick guy went through Dylan’s trash. He’s written multipule books of how Bob Dylan is a…. well, a prick. Now THAT is irony!