Every year comedy bigwigs gather in Aspen, Colorado for HBO’s US Comedy Arts Festival
. Organizers curate a lineup of some of the best comedy in the country and industry types flock to Aspen to see what’s hot. This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend. In addition to being a part of a stage show where I presented videos of classic Improv Everywhere missions, I was given the task of causing new scenes on the streets of Aspen during the festival. Agent Kula was brought along to collaborate, and a few other IE Agents and friends were also in town for the festival and able to aid the cause.
On our first night in town, Agent Kula and I noticed several masses of dirty snow in the downtown area. It was a pretty disgusting site, and we figured we should do our part to get rid of it. The next morning we purchased a whiteboard and a large supply of plastic cups.
Within minutes, our “Free Snowcones” promotion was underway. I served as the sole salesperson and barker, announcing, “Free Snowcones made of 100% pure Aspen snow! Tastes just like the mountains!” We had three flavors for sale: Vanilla, Chocolate, and Swirl.
Most folks politely declined our free offer. Some claimed to be on diets. Others informed us our product wasn’t “edible”. A couple of people wanted to know if we had “lemon” flavor to which I responded, “Sure thing! Just give me some privacy, and I’ll have it ready right away.”
Believe it or not, we actually had a few sales. A couple of customers even took bites of our snowcones.
The following day we executed mission #2. The US Comedy Arts Festival is presented by HBO, so we decided it was time for Showtime to get in on the action. Right in front of the HBO Festival headquarters (The St. Regis Hotel), we set up the “Showtime Humor Festival”.
Agent King and I purchased two ridiculous “horse wigs” and using the hackiest props we could find, hosted the festival as the famous “Horsey Brothers”. We loudly proclaimed, “There is another festival in town this week! We may not have an ‘indoor’ venue, but we are just as funny as everyone else!” The Horsies’ routine included a plunger, googley eyes, silly string, a slide whistle, and of course the classic “snake in a can of peanuts” gag. The brothers performed pun-filled crowd work as the HBO festival attendees walked by. The Horsey Brothers found no shame in literally begging executives for a TV development deal, but they came up empty handed.
Later in the day we were joined by a real HBO camera crew as we set up a red carpet in front of the only fast food establishment in Aspen, McDonald’s. The festival included a number of real celebrities (Dave Chapelle, Vince Vaughn, Gary Shandling, Arli$$) so we figured it was time to meet a few. As local teenagers came in and out of the McDonald’s door, I flagged them down for an exclusive red carpet interview.
I asked the McDonald’s customers all of the burning questions the “live” audience on HBO was dying to hear: “Who are you wearing?” and “What are you eating?”
Our final mission of the festival took place right at the foot of Aspen Mountain.
Just down the stairs from where the skiers finished their trek, we found an abandoned beverage kiosk. Agent Dunn set up shop and offered Aspen residents a much-needed service.
Aspen is 0.44% Black, so we figured we’d give everyone a chance to meet and greet with a real live black person. As skiers exited the mountain, Agent Dunn shouted, “What’s up everyone, I’m a black person.”
Many folks just laughed and kept walking, but others wanted to take photos of this rare opportunity.
Many Aspen residents found time to shake hands and greet their new black friend.
The woman photographed below felt a special kindred spirit with Agent Dunn. She told him, “From a Norwegian to a Black, I’ll tell you, we’re about as ostracized as any two groups can be.” I’m not too familiar with plight of the Norwegian Americans, but I can imagine it’s pretty rough.
The man in the photo below had some kind words as well, “Congratulations for coming here and breaking the color barrier.”
Some other memorable quotes:
** “You’re not faking it?”
** “We’re from Atlanta. We’re very familiar [with black people.]”
** “I’m from Dallas, TX and I love you all.”
** “You’re the first one I’ve seen today.”
** Man: “I’ve met one before.” Agent Dunn: “Keep up the good work!”
** Woman: “Why don’t you ski?” Agent Dunn: “When they start playing music up on the mountain, I’ll start skiing.
I really appreciate the irony of "Black" being written in red.
Agent Dunn, nice to see you spreading good cheer as always.
Hahaha this one is hilarious! :)
love the meet a black person one!
This one was awesome. Free snow cones = favorite.
Someone should give you guys a lot of money.
I think you guys are great and I love the whole concept. Showtime Comedy–Classic!!
I loved the Norweigan.
Funny as always, but I had an extra giggle when looking at the photos of "Meet a Black Person". I’m pretty sure the man in the fifth photo up from the bottom (baseball cap and beard) is my father! How fantastically random.
Pretty weak, as far as the missions go. But then the others just so good/elaborate. Hope that improv didn’t "sponsor" the trip to Aspen…looks like a bad excuse to take a vacation. Except for the black guy…they don’t ski, do they??? ;)
Colton, you are a fantastic Black Person! Aspen was lucky to have you raise their percentage to 1.44% at least!
Meet a Black Guy is classic. Now that is funny stuff, the other two were good as well though.
Man: "I’ve met one before." Agent Dunn: "Keep up the good work!"
I agree. that was such a perfect answer!
The white guy in the pix is very cute. Is he single?
Tell him to email me sometime.
Free sno cones.I’ll have to remember that for next winter.One flavour you missed was yellow.
To top off the meet a black person sign one could have included the word "genuine".
Great job as always,keep it up!
Uproarius! I attracted a little too much attention to myself reading through this mission while at work. I couldn’t stop laughing. Great fun!
I agree completely with "rommel."
I’m a Norweigan American……………………….
This was hilarious though!!!!!!!
the meet a black person made me spray my birch beer! love the way you set it up on the site, too. :-)
It’s funny that you actually got a kiosk! Thanks for the laughs.
Hahaha! I heard of you all — y’all? — on NPR and really enjoyed the segment. Made me want to come here and check you all out some more. Too bad there’s not much of a living to be made as a street performer, huh?
Meet a black guy, perhaps the greatest mission ever. The responses were perfect.
Since when is making fun of Showtime to get some laughs from folks at HBO "causing a scene"?
Meet a Black Guy was fantastic. I love the last guy in the video.
"MOM! Come here! There’s a black guy down here!!"
The Showtime one was too complicit. I liked the "Alternative Comedy Fest" idea, but it was a little too "Coke vs. Pepsi" for me.
The Meet a Black Person was not novel, but very well executed and it was nice to see you all take on something that had social significance beyond "Let’s make people stop and laugh for a second".
The Sno-Cone one was simple and brilliant. Loved it!
Good job, ya’ll!
A true classic!
I live in the San Juans, and it’s becoming like Aspen fast. We could certainly use something like this up here!
I cannot believe people really ate those snow cones, but, hey, I can’t believe people go on Fear Factor either.
Meet a Black Person was priceless. Seriourly hilarious.
colton is cute! he is taken??
What a wonderful mission. I love the little set up for "Meet A Black Person." Maybe I should go find someplace nd set up a
"Meet An Asian Person"
Man: "I’ve met one before." Agent Dunn: "Keep up the good work!"
Simple, sublime and an artistic statment all in one. Beyond simple pranks indeed. You guys made my year.
How bout a blonde blue eyed person in the "Meet a Black Person" booth?
Tear-jerkingly funny!! love teh humor and the wit
This one was great!
You guy’s are nuts, I laughed so freakin hard tears were coming down my cheeks. I tried to tell my significant other about your mission and couldn’t from laughing. I gotta tell you you are not the first to do this. My brother and I dressed up in winter clothes in July (PA.) and knocked on doors to shovel walks….. And I’m 68… Rock on.
HAHAHA THIS IS AWESOME! U guys are great! U guys should come to CANADA and make FUTURESHOP a mission! IT WOULD BE HILLARIOUS! DONT STOP WHAT UR DOING>>>I WILL SURELY DONATE!
You yanks in NY sure can make us southern gents in louisiana laugh :) Keep up the great work.
Meet the Black Person was brilliant!!! The agent was awesome (cute too) with his reactions & responses to the white people.
Gotta love the plight of the Norwegian-American!!!! Still wiping the tears from my eyes!
Please come to Florida! These Q-Tips down here could stand a little stirring up!
Thanks for the laughs. You inspire me.
Meet a black person… true genius.
Where do you guys come UP with this stuff? Meet a black person?!
I LOVE IT!!
I think meet the black person was hilarious!!! Especially the last guy in the video hes like "mom!!, there’s a black person down here" he was so happy… too funny. Good job guys
I am sorry but I have to disagree with your black person choice. That guy is way to smiley and cute to be a good candidate. You should have gotten someone who looked a bit more menacing and big and scary to really get interesting reactions. You know all the chicks probably stopped in hopes of getting picked up with the current guy…
All your missions here are wonderful and hilarious–it’s bringing a smile to my face (and a couple of my friends, who I’m linking as we speak) all the way over here in CA. Good luck with all future endeavors!
(And the twenty-third picture down, with the stranger pointing at his "new black friend"–very Stephen Colbert. The ColbertNation salutes you heroes. ;)
Meet a Black person was awesome! my sides are hurting from that one and that last guy "Hey Mom, there’s a black guy down here!" Icing on the cake! Brilliant!
I would have soooo taken a free snow cone if i was there, of course, i wouldnt have eaten it…..^.^
I love it!!!!
Meet a Black person. Only works in Aspen!
this just made my day!
Will someone from your group please notify me of your next event. I would like to meet a black person. Thank you.
hahaha hahaha the meet a black guy one was great.
i go to aspen a few times a year and actually saw 2 black guys in the same trip. one was a local. the other was will smith
aspen is my hometown and you guys got everything perfect!
I want to meet a black guy!
Thanks for brightening my day :D
Any chance you could make it over to the UK for a mission any time soon?
Makes me want to meet even more black people.
(Is that wrong?)
:-) what else can i say?
lmfao i wouldve acted like i was 10 and be like “holy shit this is so cooolll!!”
heya been looking through all this stuff , iproveverywhere is really brilliant , best thing ever , but this just made me *almost* wet myself laughing ( and being half black myself , just made it that much funnier) lovin the sign saying meet a blck person in red ironically , and also the guy at the end ” hey ma! come down theres a black guy down here! ” made me double over in fits. these missions are just so simple but to such a great effect , god job guys!
p.s also great choice of song: dr. dre and snooop dog , nothing but a g thing XD real ganasta right there
I met a black person once but it was anti climactic.
Awesome. I laughed the hardest at Snoop and Dre as the background music of the “Meet a Black Person” video. Hilarious stuff.
I laughed for a solid five minutes at all of these. For some reason the red carpet at McDonald’s and the “What are you wearing/eating” made me laugh so hard I started crying. The “meet a black guy” is priceless and ingenious… LOVE IT.
“Mom, come here! There’s a black guy down here!”
Yea! go Norwegians! Lefsa for everyone!
I go to aspen all the time there are no black people ha
at 1:03 when the guy tells his mom to “come see the black guy” that wasn’t an IE plant?? haha!! that’s just hilarious
Agent Dunn, you should come visit Maine: the whitest state in the United States of America! Your presence here would greatly increase our ethnic diversity. We love black people!
ahahahahahahha!!!this was great!
lol, hey ma, theres a black person down here!
I myself am 5/16 Norwegian and very proud of it!
Keep up the good work!
they should do that in london, england with ‘meet a white english person’…..been there? you know what i mean then!
keep up the great work
Oh my, I can’t believe you guys did this. Very funny.
My favorite part is at the end of the video when that guy yells “Mom! there’s a black guy down here”
I’ve been to aspen multiple times and i recognized everything. Strangely, I’ve seen black people in Aspen, one being Seal(Heidi Klum’s husband). Lol “Hey mom, there’s a black guy down here!”
Actually, doing “meet a black guy” in New York, Oakland, or any such diverse place, would also be interesting. You could even set up a different ethnicity every few blocks.
I love the kid at the end: “Mom, c’mere; there’s a black guy!”
Is this black person single? Just wondering.
I want to go to Aspen with a shirt just like that… That would be awesome…
Purely epic. I live near Aspen, and I am asian. It’s hilarious, because I’m sure those people were serious about at least some of their responses.
haha thats great!!
its perfect with the word black wriiten in red.
haha i wish i was there.
you guys are HILARIOUS. :]
“BOB COME DOWN HERE! THERE’S A BLACK GUY HERE!!!”
Best line is at the end of the video XD
“Mom, come here! There’s a black guy down here!” ROFL
Thats so freeken fablious! ehe
This is so hilarious bc I go to Apsen twice a year and I’m usually the only black person in the whole state of Colorado…
i see me….this is awesome… i live in aspen and this is too true
Omg, I just have to say, you guys rock! I live in Scotland and I wish I lived in New York so I could participate in your missions!
I love Agent Todd <3 ;)
Ew, some people actually tried the snow.. yuuck ;p
Too funny……lol you guys always make me laugh, I almost had a spasm of laughter at work……
This is why ImprovEverywhere is great. Come on people…..We are all people and it behooves us to get along with everybody!
This is sooo funny! Loved the meet a black person one…the people were so amazed!! i guess theyve never really seen a black guy before!!! lollll
In Illinois we have lots. Thats punny how those people actually rarly see a black person!!! WOW. SO funny!
Thank you for totally cheering me up! With good humor, all is not lost in this world! I lived in Aspen, and am sending this to all my CO friends!
as a european i notice the outerworldlyness of many of the american commentaries.doesnt anyone notice that this is really apartheid exemplified in a hilarious manner?and then the postures of the so-called “meeters”.as if a leprose is approached to isolate her or him on an abandoned venetian island.some of the aspeners with their snotty/snooty attitudes.the only really deeply human “agent” here is
the black man,although with one of the commentators i agree that his cuteness compromises the concept.the blackness should be more harsh,so that the contrast with the white cartoonfaces would illuminate the dumb cartoonishness of “aspen/disneyland”.a dutchman.
rommel is an ignorant nut.
We have “four” black people in Jackson Hole! Ski towns…definitely lack, how do you say it? …um…”diversity”. Yeah! That’s what it’s called.
i think that’d be a great idea at a local resort here in PA!!!
Have a whole row of “Meet an X”
Could hit every ethnicity, every occupation, every space alien
“You’re not faking it?”
hahaha,in the meet the black person one that one guy was like look mom its a black person! ahahahahahah that was so funny!!! i love you improv everywhere, i wish i lived in new yourk!!! you should do one in dallas, i have sooooo many friends that want to do it! please!!!!!
^ really? I didn’t hear that!
I can’t believe those two guys took a bite out of the snowcone!
I love all your pranks, but that “meet a black guy” prank made me spit soda. It’s so TRUE. I’ve gotta show this to my uncle who moved out there from Brooklyn.
— melanin-deficient person
What is with the Norwegian?
Maybe she was pranking you back?
Up in Scandinavia, Norwegians have a reputation of being conquered left right and center. The 400 year night involves Denmark taking over Norway for just so damn long that the Norwegians couldn’t take it anymore. It leaves a lot of Norwegians feeling like the “black sheep” of Scandinavia, which is actually the Finnish, but you know. :)
The 0.44% of black people in Aspen is really just Oprah
When I was part of the 0.44% of the “white folk” in my otherwise all-black high school I wouldn’t have been brave enough to set up a “Meet A White guy” kiosk. But I wish I had! Once I’d gotten to know people there I realized this would’ve gone over really well – in my experience (I’m 50 now) most racial hostility is all in the imagination. We percieve that someone wont like us based on race when, in fact, most folks would like to be friends with most folks and “flush” racism where it should go – down the drain.
Thank you for doing this!!! :)
best part was the last line “hey there’s a black guy down here!” lol