64 thoughts on “This American Life Episode to Rerun

  1. Hello!

    If you’re visiting our site for the first time upon hearing our This American Life piece (which reran this weekend – original airdate was April ’05), welcome! The TAL segment mentions four of the approximately 60 missions we’ve executed over the last five years. We invite you to spend some time viewing them all on our Missions page. You can also see video clips of many missions on our YouTube page.

    I see in the comments below that, like last year when the it first aired, the TAL piece has given some folks a negative reaction towards us. Constructive criticism is always welcome here, but I would ask that you poke around the site and check out the other 55 things we’ve done before making up your mind. If you’re interested in debating our “Best Gig Ever” or “Ted’s Birthday” missions and/or calling us names, check out the massive discussion that took place last April complete with responses from Ghosts of Pasha themselves: Reaction to This American Life, April 2005

    Also, don’t forget to visit Ghosts of Pasha’s website as well. They have tons of free mp3’s online for your downloading pleasure.

    Thanks again for visiting, and we hope you enjoy our site.

  2. Just got back from Breckenridge myself. Upon arriving back in NYC, I said to my friend, “You’re the first black guy I’ve seen in a week!”

  3. Awesome! I want to do this too. In the radio item, less fortunate missions were mentioned, but the good ones are like pearls.

  4. Hello,

    I am sorry but I think some of the actions by this ‘stunt group’ are particularily cruel. Say, for example, if the ‘victim’ in the bar for whom they decided to hold an inpromptu ‘birthday party’ actually suffered from low self esteem or a psychiatric disorder…the ‘prank’ could potentially have horrific results. It also seems rather malicious and actionable… what if ‘Ted’ after having a few drinks suddenly went out, got in his car and killed someone… how ‘funny’ would the ‘prank’ seem then?

    Also, as to the ‘Pasha’ hoax… I have a few friends who are musicians and have had to struggle for years to get recognition… the ‘improv’ group’s actions in pretended that the band was ‘cool’ even though they didn’t even know or have a clue in terms of what they might have been about… strikes me as incredibly mean spirtied and rather narcistic. Why don’t those folks do some community service or something to benefit the community rather than something for their own personal amusement?

  5. I agree completely with Dave. You may claim that you’re causing scenes of “chaos and joy” but it seems to me that beneath your projects is a really meanspirited “let’sbuild people up so we can bring them down” attitude. And when you post it all online, it seems like you’re very self-congratulatory about it.

  6. I wonder what I would have done if I had been Ted?

    The band stunt was more community directed, a “mission” directed at a group of folks in a band – personal, sure, but not individually directed.

    But finding a guy sitting alone in a bar … a bunch of people casting a spell of illusion onto someone – I dunno. Though you might have hit upon a new agent for your improv missions, you might as easily have collectively stepped onto fragile, crystaline structures of a person trying to maintain a sense of self in world that inundates us with faked interest in our personal well being. Or this imposition could have triggered anything in between – maybe ‘Ted’ walks out or maybe he starts to throw punces.

    Who’s to know. But I agree with the previous writer about this group’s narcissitic mentality here.

  7. Just listened to the show. My thoughts: Your group approaches (the Starbucks, the subway, etc) are pure improv/street art genius, and do indeed bring some needed magic and fun into life. But your approach to picking random people to approach and mess with – because that is what you’re doing – crosses a line. Causing effects in social life is one thing, but causing effect in personal lives is something very different.

  8. Yep, the mean spirited comment comes closest to my feeling, too. Wow; I absolutely LOVED the Starbuck’s stunt and the other group “missions” but the Ghost of Pasha and Ted trips. . .no. They’re just plain cruel. Yes, performance art is very cool if conceptualized and done well. But this–even though I get what you’re doing and even understand that you’re inviting comments to add to the effect and to study it further, it’s still mean. You are like a particularly ugly sort of high school bully who never grew up but only got more intricate in the ways he uses to humiliate those whom he probably in truth fears most.

  9. Andy and Deb add good points, IMO.

    There must be a way for the improv group to filter your creative plans in a way that reasonably excludes picking out individuals “to mess with,” and refraining from doing missions that could result in individual humiliation.

    But maybe you have all already reflected on those PAST missions, and have consciously put in place a method for filtering out the missions that ‘should be done’ from all the brainstormed ones that you ‘could’ do.

    If you have 35 or more agents as willing participants, then you’ve clearly created a strong force for creating unexpected fun, or unexpected…

  10. I heard about Improv Everywhere about an hour ago on NPR. “How cool!” was my first response. I couldn’t help but think back to my days as a communication arts student in college and recall all the zany stunts we pulled on people in the name of “pushing social boundaries” and other hilarious-yet-serious motivations.

    I’ll never forget approaching an older woman in a grocery store, crying out, “Mrs. Tanner!” and attempting to give her a hug. Then, when she resisted, I explained how we had been neighbors when I was litttle. I’d go over to her house and bake cookies, she taught me to crochet, and I just had the fondest memories of her. She insisted she wasn’t her, but by the end of our encounter she patted my hand.

    I never told her it wasn’t “real.” Was I “mean spirited”, as some here have accused IE of being? Nope. Could she have been scarred for life? Potentially. She could have actually had a neighbor girl who was brutally murdered, or she might have been going through a rough time in her life.

    All I know is, I helped break up the everydayness and brought a smile to her face.

    Narcissistic? Only as much as Candid Camera, which was my “second response.” They actually make money off of their gags, and AFAIK, IE doesn’t.

  11. I heard the “Mind Games” episode on This American Life today. I am thoroughly delighted and horrified simultaneously! It almost makes me wish I lived in New York…Kudos!

  12. I think most of these “missions” are hilarious. The only problem is that in a lot of cases, the objects of your pranks aren’t given the option of not participating. Some people’s time is very precious, and they would rather not waste it by dealing with one of your pranks.

    However, I think there’s some middle ground. Just giving Ted $250 isn’t enough. You just assume that is fair compensation, but that’s *your* decision, not his. If I had been you all, I would have still done the prank, but then offered to let him take part in a future one, or allowed to write his own reactions to it on the website.

    You basically assume that his evening out with his friends is only worth $250…and his “performance” is free. You can’t make that assessment.

  13. I feel like I should add that I still think what you all are doing is fantasic and brilliant. I hope you continue far into the future.

  14. interesting thought… all of the people who have posted comments here as of yet… what if they didn’t hear the TAL presentation? what if they only read what was posted on this website? TAL seemed to cast IE in a negative light, IE seems to cast most of its missions in a positive light…

    the question of whether the glass is half-empty or half-full seems to depend on whether you’re drinking or pouring.

  15. Yes, I think you guys are cruel (in a sort of trans-ironic postmodern way), but what bugs me the most is that you guys are mediocre (even more so than that band you mocked). This kind of stuff has been done for years (dadists…situationists…fluxus..& so on).Frankly…you art is trite. Also you sounded so coy & phoney on the radio show. You must know that the band prank was mockery; it was like making the cheerleader ask out the dork & then confessing that it was all a joke. Your art is already played out; it’s like a sort of postmodern empty irony that has lost the true irony! Please go work at StarBucks…and maybe when you are a wage slave some improve group will visit you and made your little life a little better.

  16. Wow, you people are intellectual bullies who pick on your average bloke who’s just trying to exist in this fucked-up world. Someone who is culturally and artistically aware would just consider your group lite-weights. If you geezers invaded a true punk, mod, garage, or hip hop club acting like bourgoise twats like you did with that band, you would’ve left your teeth behind!

  17. i love the whole idea of your ensemble
    guerilla art is what we are left with, after the art world has corrupted everything else.
    go team.

  18. I don’t understand why This American Life put so much negative spin on their Improv Everywhere segment. When this show first aired last year, I wrote to them and expressed disappointment about what they did and asked them why they did it. They didn’t respond, so I still don’t understand why they decided to tilt the whole IE segment toward the moon instead of the sun!

    IE is not a mean-spirited group. I had read about the two missions TAL spun negatively prior to hearing the radio show, and the TAL spin came as a complete surprise. Although I have no connection with IE, I know someone who participated in the Ghost of Pasha event. The first hand account I heard–months before the radio show aired–was a positive one that backed up the old belief that if you expend energy to become a better audience, you will get a better show. It’s like Newton’s third law– action/reaction. Television producers use this behavior principle by hiring audience warm-up guys to work the crowd and get them pumped up before taping a show.

    What I heard at the time was that the audience energy pushed Pasha to perform their best, and everyone enjoyed the concert. Nobody made fun of anybody, even though their attendance was planned to surprise the band. What might have been a deadly dull Sunday night concert with a handful of attendees turned into a happening and resulted in a lot of publicity for the band. The TAL reported “trauma” suffered by a band member? I just don’t get it. Pasha and IE seem to be on good terms now, and I can’t imagine a performer being traumatized by a good gig.

    TAL primed their audience for the IE segment with dark, ominous music. One of TAL’s classic comical segments is a story about a burning squirrel, so they fully understand that we can either laugh or be outraged at just about anything if they cue us with sound effects and then tell us what they want to tell us in the style they want us to hear.

    Who knows why TAL made the choice they did, but it shows that reporters and producers can serve up a story any way they want to manipulate our reactions. Listeners believe what they hear. TAL is an entertainment program and their objective is to manipulate listeners’ feelings. I just don’t understand why they didn’t have more fun with this segment.

    Rather than jump on the “shame on you” bandwagon, people should read the original accounts on this site. They’re very funny and are clearly not mean spirited.

  19. Somerset, who led you to believe that the things IE does are intended to be postmodern trans-ironic art? You found your way to the website after listening to the radio show, and I wonder if you were looking for more information, or just looking for a place to rant. Check out the FAQ (http://improveverywhere.com/faq.php), especially the “Why do you do this?” question and you’ll get a better idea of what IE is about.

    To other readers/TAL listeners who think that IE has been cruel: I’ve taken part in several of IE’s more recent missions, and though I wasn’t there for the ones that are being so heavily debated here, I can tell you that I’m fairly positive that there was no intention to bully anyone. Every participant I’ve ever encountered in an IE event has been solely focused on creating as interesting, unique and enjoyable an experience as possible. There’s always the possibility that some people (observers) will be offended just because they weren’t “in” on the joke, but most people just go with it and they end up having a great time and a great story to tell.

    If this website seems self-congratualtory, well, it IS a website designed to promote and document the things IE does. Why shouldn’t they express the fact that they’re excited and proud about these things? If you read the FAQ, you’ll also know that they make no money off of this, and they pay for it themselves. The ONLY reason they do it is because they love to do it.

    Other than that, I just want to back up what Jacey wrote – take a look at the writeups of some of the other events.

  20. i listened to this segment today.
    i was so excited by it.
    its such an amazing idea.
    and hilarious.
    and i want to be an agent.

    …its such a nice thought that weird things can happen. and people can make them happen and plan it. its real cool.

    so yeah.
    basically i love you.

  21. So, um… Who was it that said “Never take offense where none is meant?” Sounds like a smart piece of advice to me…

  22. I’ve heard it said:

    – “Regardless of intent, there is always an impact you’re responsible for causing.”

    – “Good intentions are fraught with flaws.”

    The statements above seem to generally acknowledge that, and ask “Improv Everywhere” to just be conscious of how what they do effects those who they target. The intention may not have been to “target” anyone – and they seem to try to be cognizant of how their fun comes across. But it’s easy to step over a line I think.

  23. I’ve been a professional musician for many years and one important trait I needed to develop was an ability to handle an obnoxious bar crowd…Hey… pretend to be into it or ridicule me directly…who cares!!!….rock ’em up you kids!

  24. wow FUCKING WOW MAN ! what Genius!
    I love you guys!
    dam i wish i lived in NY city bro id definitely hook into your gig.

    ever think of franchising?

    lol rock on man i love this stuff!

    you guys just tapped into the farce that life is.

    just routines.

    awesome! just jaw drop awesome!

    i heard the radio show .

    more power to you guys you captured lightning in a bottle you did it!

    Thanks, Slippster

  25. I loved the act on TAL. I simply have to disagree with the consistency of negative opinions toward what you’re doing. What best stands out in my mind as memorable, is when the speaker representing your group defined the goals of the project as accessing the world in a fashion that moves beyond television and movies, to create stories for people to tell.

    Calling your missions mean-spirited is naive. They simply aren’t. Mean-spirited implies that your group is working with a premeditated tendency toward meanness, which you clearly are not.

    What you do as a project eliminates mundanity from the world, and that’s commendable by itself.

    The starbucks mission was a wonderful idea. It’s hearing about things such as that that make hearing TAL every weekend neccesary for me.

    Good luck in the future and keep up the good work.

    If any of you are willing, my e-mail is Wracky272@gmail.com. I’d love to strike up some conversation about what you do.

  26. I too just heard about IE on NPR this morning.

    I would not call IE mean-spirited, because I honestly did not get the impression that IE missions are planned with any malice.
    What I do think is that IE does not full think about the consequences of the missions it does plan. On the surface the mission seems like it may enhance someone’s evening, but any benefits are very superficial and short lived, like what happen with the band.

    Not allowing “Ted” to leave the bar when he was unable to convince anyone who he really was just cruel, intended or not. According to what Ted said, it sounded as though he felt disempowered… which is not a good feeling at all and very scary for someone new to the city who already feels a sense of isolation. In his own words, he is not the strongest of personalities, and his weakness allowed IE to keep him at the bar against his wishes.

    IE may think about putting guidelines in affect to avoid putting unwitting participants into situations that may be detrimental to their state of mind after the mission is completed, something like a “3 time rule” for a mission such as the birthday mission. Try 3 times to keep the “victim” of the mission at the bar or other public space and if the “victim” makes a 4th attempt to remove him or herself from the situation, they should be allowed to do so unimpeded. And if you acquired the “victim’s” email or phone number during the mission, let them in on the mission within 24 hours of the completion of the mission. Don’t call them a full year later to continue the mission; you don’t know what has happen in that year.

    There must be a balance between IE’s artist expression and individual’s rights to or not to participate in IE’s art.

  27. I just caught the TAL segment. Bottom line…..Did the IE guys ever hear of Karma? When you create bad Karma, it will only come back to haunt you. In listening the the reaction of the subjects to your “experiments” I clearly heard pain and anguish. Well, the pain and anguish you created will come back to you one day in some way. We’re all just trying to get along in this life, why are you going out of your way to screw with people? Good luck to you. Have a nice life.

  28. I think you’re great. Being surprised can be a great feeling, and now that I’ve looked through your missions and people’s reactions to them, I can see that everyone you surprised ended up feeling pretty happy and special after they got over the initial shock. Hope to see you on a subway car near me!

  29. Alright, I think this is awesome. Mean spirited? what’s with that. So it’s ok for a comedian to make fun of someone and bring em down but not some harmless improv? That’s loco. When I read the first posts about it being mean spirited I thought it was a joke, I thought you guys were just being hysterical!!! but it turned out you weren’t…and then all at the same time it was hysterical again. All I have to say is I’m glad I’m not sheltered. I love improv people. I did improv in high school, the kind where you draw characters and situations and places and had 30 minutes to prepare a 7 minute skit, it was some cool shit…can I say shit? ok, I’m going now. peace in the middle east vatos! (no I don’t know what vato means)

  30. I actually enjoyed hearing the story on TAL and I hope the group messes with more common people. Those people sounded like losers and derserved to be messed with. I just think it is funny to make people feel bad. You guys rock! I am going to start my own group that catches people off their guard and gets them all excited and feeling like they are really connecting with someone and then laughs in their face. Just kidding. You all are actually just a bunch of D*cks. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. You are actually insignificant and meaningless. If any of you think you are actually important you are deluding yourselves. Just kidding, you guys are great. You are shaking things up, and breaking people out of their complacent little eggshells. Kudos. Nevermind. You all just suck.

  31. Absolutely Brilliant….. Please….can you come to Birmingham Alabama?….surely you could have some fun here. I have a flat downtown and I could host as many as 7 people….take a road trip…plan a mission here!
    Write back
    redheadchik420@hotmail.com
    Sarah

  32. Jesse, I couldn’t figure out exactly what that means… But I have heard it myself as well… Apparently, “Pato” means “duck” and “Bato” means “I beat” …? Maybe we can just call each other “I beat ducks” from now on.
    woooooah there mister spooky karma guy, lay off the hookah for a while. Maybe when you can come up with a specific crime against karma we can intelligently discuss it, eh?
    I think the main point of the whole “offense” argument is that the only reason this whole thing COULD be offensive is if the IE people had malice in their hearts, or if they were insincere, like if they actually wanted to hurt feelings. I can tell they weren’t insincere like how high school drama club people are a lot of times (at least in my old high school), because on all levels they actually DID care about the person/people they involved in their performance.
    It is a good point that people could get offended even if IE didn’t mean it… But seriously, all the reasons to take offense just aren’t there (unless one happens to be a hermit-bot that thrives on routine, buzz-BZZ-whirrr). There is only love for fellow humans and a desire to push boring boundaries and routines. Come on, robots, it’s fun! Anyway, see ya on the fourth level, karma dude.

  33. Your mail ranges from “arrest those jerks” to “give these people an Oscar.” Clearly you’ve stirred the pot and got some folks thinking. Never a bad thing.

    I’ve encountered far too many people who live their lives vicariously through others via TV, movies, books, magazines, but don’t have much of a life of their own beyond working, eating, drinking and sleeping. I interpret IE’s mission as creating a “bump” in an otherwise flat and unimagininative landscape. Excellent!

    I imagined myself on both sides of the question in the TAL broadcast performances. Scary stuff, but fun when the dust settled.

    My complaint is there aren’t enough of you to go around.

  34. Heard the piece on TAL. Can’t understand why or how you think you are doing anything is in the least bit constructive or useful. What kind of twisted mind would come up with an idea like what was told in the TAL piece? I would ask the simple question of how you would like that stunt pulled on you but these clowns seem to be too wrapped up in their twisted world to understand moral human conduct. What happened to you in your childhood? If you ever mature enough to be an adult you may be able to look back at cruel acts such as this and truly be ashamed of your conduct. Why don’t you get a job or do something constructive like volunteer work? Your begging for for money via a Paypal donation is pathetic! Who in the world would give you a donation? Just remember – what goes around comes around!

  35. toddy Boy, we TEDS (Teddy Boys) are none too’appy ’bout you messin’ about wit one of our own! I see a flick-blade in your future…oh wait..arf..uh..never mind…sorry old chappy…my mistake

  36. I haven’t read every single comment so might be repeating some things that have already been said.
    I did listen to the This Life story.

    Of course it is so easy to say this is all great… as long as you are on the side pulling the pranks. Try being on the other side where you don’t get a choice! They are messing with the REAL LIFE of random, average joes for their own VERY *selfish* entertainment needs. I think it is an extremely twisted concept.

    Make your own fun within your clique; leave the average joe out of it.

    On this Life, the worst thing was
    perhaps taunting the guy with the fake birthday *a year later.* He clearly sounded like he had enough. But the group acting in very poor taste and a bullying way needed to pick on him again?

    This won’t be considered such a great thing when it eventually goes horribly wrong to the point of a death being involved.

  37. so this comment might be a bit long. I always buy TAL off i tunes and lay in my bed each night presleep and listen to them. This night, i coherced my roomate, chrissy, to snuggle up with me in my twin bed to listen. it was “mind games”.
    before I go into anything else that happened tonight while listening to your bit on TAL I would like to add that last may i flew up to NYC from athens, ga with some friends to visit. We met up with our friend andrew who was raving about this improv group he was in. some prank with U2 and a roof and cops. that’s about all I remembered him saying, but I thought it was hysterical.
    so, needless to say, that tonight I was shocked and amazed to hear improv everywhere on my favorite radio program. congradulations and andrew- you’re a bad ass.

    much love
    diana

  38. I loved it. Glad to see that original people still exist.

    I’m also glad that folks listen to This American Life – improve and storytelling every week. What a blast.

  39. I am an avid listener of “This American Life”, and when I heard your segment, I was inspired. Granted, some of the missions were particularly detrimental to the guinea pig victim, such as “Ted” and the band, but what must also be taken into consideration is the fact that both ultimately realized that the mission was a learning experience rather than a nightmare. This is an important aspect of initially bad situations that is frequently overlooked.

    And as for the Moebius… Genius. Absolute genius.

    I hope to take part in one of your future missions. You should definitely come to Boston.

  40. Heard TAL this weekend. I loved the segment. Great and very funny. Keep it up.

  41. OMG. You guys and gals are just brilliant. I loved hearing both angles on the band mission. Wow!

    Bruce

  42. I realize that the TAL show focused on just two incidents out of however many you’ve done, so it may be one-sided, but that one side made you all look pretty much like insufferable a-holes.

    A couple responses to the more recent defenses regarding the TAL show:

    So it’s ok for a comedian to make fun of someone and bring em down but not some harmless improv? That’s loco.

    Think you might be able to figure out the difference there? Hint: There’s the purchase of tickets involved in one of your examples.

    Granted, some of the missions were particularly detrimental to the guinea pig victim, such as “Ted” and the band, but what must also be taken into consideration is the fact that both ultimately realized that the mission was a learning experience rather than a nightmare.

    Who are IE to decide for the victim – excuse me, participant – what experience that person needs to have? Shouldn’t that be up to the person?

    Here’s an example. What if Ted had been schizophrenic, subject to breaks from reality? What if Ted had crippling social phobia, had been sitting with his shrink who convinced him to leave the house for the first time in two years?

    What if “Ted” was friendless, completely friendless, and was feeling extremely depressed about it – then was overwhelmed by dozens of people who he knows don’t give a shit about him…but are gonna pretend like they do for a set amount of time?

    Give me a break. I don’t want TV preachers deciding “what’s good for me”, I don’t want Senators deciding “what’s good for me”, and I certainly don’t want an improv group deciding “what’s good for me.”

  43. You guys suck. You came off as such in the TAL rerun. What’s the point of what you do? There is none except to have fun at someone else’s expense. Art is about perpetuating truth, not falsehoods. What you do is called “teasing” and stoops to the level of an elementary grade-schooler without the prepubescent charm or innocence.

  44. This is ridiculous. Did anyone actually read through the missions? The Ted mission…the guy could have literally left anytime he wanted. He could have just walked away. And he contemplated it, but decided to stay. That was his decision. And the Pasha mission…It’s not like they picked a band they didn’t like and showed up to mock them. They picked a band they knew nothing about (except that they had an awful time slot to play in), and they showed up and gave the band somebody to play for. They had fun, the band had fun…what’s wrong with that?

    Lighten up.

  45. Unlike you guys, This American Life does not allow listeners to leave comments anywhere on their website.If they did, I’d leave a note about how unethical they were when they decided to distort information about those two missions of yours to help create their sensational “mind games” story, and how ridiculous it was to include a story about pranks performed by this funny and light- hearted group in the same category as a story about the kidnapping of a little girl. I’d tell them all this… if they allowed the democratic expression of listeners’ reactions on their site…but they don’t do feedback.
    I guess I’ll just stop writing checks every time NPR has one of their pledge drives. It probably won’t impact them very much, but it will make me feel a little better.

  46. So why the perception on “Ted’s” part that the group intimidated/coerced him into staying? Revisionism? I caught some level of revisionism from all sides during the TAL bit, but it came in spades from Charlie.

  47. Hmmmm let’s think about this… Ted is the one that kept asking for more kamikazee shots and beers all night long… Don’t you think it’s possible that he woke up the next day and had a hard time remembering what had happened? If had to choose who has the story straight, I think I’ll go with the 30 people who wrote down their account the next day and posted it on this website rather than the guy who got blackout drunk and was interviewed about it 18 months later.

  48. It’s so annoying to have to have this debate all over again.
    I cannot agree with those people who say IE sucks. Their “what if” stories about the effects the mission might have on a mentally instable person, are just that. What if they actually had a good time? Nobody considered this, just because TAL decided to air negative reactions.

    Not all IE missions have been really successful. And it is debatable whether or not GOP and “Ted” should have been told afterwards of what had taken place.

    But just take a look at all the other missions that IE had done. Who can deny the sheer brilliance of missions such as “Moebius” and “No Pants”.

    Come on people, get out of your safe corner and live a little. No risk means no fun.

    Nuff said.

  49. You are an asshole who had a couple real good ideas–time loop, pantless on the subway–and then ran out, and got too impatient to wait for some of similar caliber or better ones, and because you have the need for power-tripping and being one of the cool artists without having to work for it–which is the real lesson of your prank triumphalism, you messed up someone’s life who has a decent ethical outlook on others and a sensitive personality unlike you–You even insist on calling him “Ted” in the TAL interview. What a bloody facist! His name isn’t what your group says it is, You saw he was upset and called him up a year later! What an insensitive fucking lout! You are no artist–you’re a one-hit wonder. Have someone babysit your next mission, creep, so it doesn’t get out of hand you mission creep!

  50. Christine,

    You say IE is a one-hit wonder. Do yourself a favor and look at the other fucking 50 missions they’ve done before you go off spouting like an expert.

  51. That’s crap. Who now wants to check out what a dude like that does the rest of his life after hearing about his inane dismissive explanation for his actions, and by implication, his inane raised-on South Park friends support of his view and all his future views. If that kid he upset was my son, like I’d really wanna waste a second following this guy’s career. On his word, and my dime? No thanks. I didn’t tell your buddy he should stop–I was telling him to wake up. Personally, I could care less about wasting any time on this bullshit artist
    even if you yourself started to write scripts for him. Unless maybe he got some counseling. You’re gonna turn off some irrevocably when you do stuff like that and then can’t apologize for it. Reminds me of the asswipe in the White House a bit too much. There’s a difference between mobbing and performance art and a difference between bullying mobs of hipper-than-thous doing a bit of performance art now and then to cover up the fact that they are pretty mean at heart. And I am an expert, I listened not once but three times to the emotional consequences and the two sides presented in the IE segment, something you apparently think it’s too girly to do. Why not just get a bunch of guys to go up and kick sand in a skinny guy’s face at the beach like they did in the old days if you don’t see anything wrong with what they did to that kid?

  52. Wow, this debate is stunning. As serveral people have mentioned, if you are offended by the TWO missions described on the radio show, take a look at the missions page to see other things IE has done. Not only have they had over 50 missions, but the Best Gig Ever was a year and a half ago, and the Ted’s Birthday was 2 and half years ago!

    I haven’t read every single mission, but all of the ones I’ve read or taken part in are a lot less “personal” than either of these two, and I think that’s why you see so many people commenting that TAL didn’t give a very representative view of IE’s work.

    Auguste, to respond to your comment:

    Here’s an example. What if Ted had been schizophrenic, subject to breaks from reality? What if Ted had crippling social phobia, had been sitting with his shrink who convinced him to leave the house for the first time in two years?

    What if you walked around the corner and physically bumped into that person with crippling social phobia. Then you smiled and apologized politely, but the damage is done – he will never leave the house again!! Just in case, let’s try to avoid ever having contact or interactions with people we don’t already know. Unless, of course, they buy a ticket to the “Interact with Auguste” show.

  53. Wow mirka APOLOGIZE
    Youse just said the magic word man–that’s my point exactly. Admitting it was mean and leaving off calling the guy AGAIN a year later. And there were four missions described on TAL, IE wasn’t given short shrift by any means but the ONE I’m addressing is enough to get anyone bullshit after hearing the guy’s dismissive attitude. Any current participant like yourself who would tend to retroactively justify a mission such as that with the lame example you just gave Auguste cannot see the light and would go along with another similar mission easily in the future–except maybe if you think about what people like me say enough it will stop you. ONE lack of apology
    about that ONE mission is enough to offend people who are thinking ethically about the project and the sensibility behind it. What’s stunning is that you don’t believe in apologies
    unless you just bumped into someone but not if you possibly wrecked their psyche and life. Why call the guy back after a year? Answer me that. WHY CALL THE GUY BACK? He was buggin already. Enjoyment of the feeling of power??

  54. The mission was 2 and a half years ago but the call back to the guy was a year and a half ago–in your time frame is he over it yet then. How long do YOU think he should take to get over it? Are you a shrink on the side?

  55. Yeah, seriously. It should take at least two years to get over a night of free drinks, pool, hugs, and $250 in gift cards. And then what an insult to be offered the same deal the next year.

  56. My example was lame because Auguste’s example was lame and I was trying to point that out. Yes, it’s possible that anyone you interact with might be unstable, but the vast majority of the time that’s not going to be true. Do you go about your daily life meeting people and thinking “this person might have a crippling social phobia” or do you interact with them as if they probably don’t? I’m going to assume that you don’t, and I think the same holds true for comedians creating a public performance. And yet people on this board are trying to say that making that assumption is irresponsible. I think that’s ridiculous.

    I’m not trying to justify anyone’s past actions. I’m trying to say that I understand that IE’s intentions were never to hurt or bully anyone, as people seem to think. When I brought up the time that has passed since these two missions, I wasn’t trying to say “he should be over it by now,” I’m saying that in the past year and a half, IE has not done any missions like this.

    What really bothers me about all this is the underlying implication that no one should do anything unexpected or out of the ordinary in public because SOMEONE might get offended or upset.

    People who only know about IE through TAL have the impression that GoP was a victim because Ira Glass introduces the mission by saying it went “terribly, terribly wrong.” But the interviews that follow that don’t support that judgement. The band members say things like “We got Punk’d” and “It was really odd” and “we answered it back with something real and at that point everybody in the room was on the same page.” The person who was the most upset by it was Chris, the guitarist, and even he later says that it was A GIFT that helped him get over his childhood insecurities. That sounds like a good step for someone who aspires to be a rockstar.

    Does Ira Glass admit that it didn’t go terribly, terribly wrong afterall? No, he goes on to introduce the Ted’s Birthday mission by saying “But not everybody’s ready to make themselves at home in Charlie’s world. Some people prefer their life just the way it is.” This makes it sound a lot more sinister than it was ever meant to be. Later, after interviewing Charlie and Christopher (aka “Ted”), Ira Glass makes the claim that Christopher only pretended to enjoy the experience (if that’s true, why didn’t Chris say it himself?) and then he goes on to say that IE is DANGEROUS because it want’s people to leave their reality and join Charlie’s. That conclusion is completely absurd.

    Please keep in mind: TAL is entertainment, too. Listen critically. Don’t believe everything that radio hosts say. Some of the “facts” have been manipulated to give the story greater impact.

  57. Amen.

    One point though, IE actually HAS done a mission where the singled out someone recently– see last summer’s beautiful Romantic Comedy Cab. That one turned out really well, and the guy hasn’t discovered it was a prank yet, as far as I can tell. That was the point with Ted and GOP as well. In fact, Ted didn’t discover it was a prank until TAL called him. He had never been to this site! GOP found the site very quickly, but you can read in the mission report that they were figuring it would take months for GOP to find it… just so happens that the mission was very popular and forwarded around the internet very quickly.

  58. I would love to be a part of this organization.

    Of course the highest aim would be to do pranks that have purely wondrous and brilliant positive effects on the lives of everyone involved, while still being absolutely humorous, and I think that’s where yr headed.
    Keep on!

  59. I’ve read every write up and watched all the videos on the site. The entire organization is just out to enjoy them selves, have fun, and create scenes where others can have fun too. I’m going to link you to the actual reactions of the Ghosts of Pasha: http://www.improveverywhere.com/mission_view.php?mission_id=43 and you can clearly see that they enjoyed it and it was a fun time for all. You can’t go around in life assuming that everyone in is a state of debility because then society wouldn’t function. Your average person assumes that most people around him are also average, and that is all IE did during the Ted mission. If you read that missions write-up (http://www.improveverywhere.com/mission_view.php?mission_id=34) you’ll notice how ‘Ted’ was scouted out – he was sitting in the back of the bar with his FRIEND, and a pitcher of beer. You should also notice that he got lots of free beer and shots, and went out to smoke more than once, and played lots of pool too. Not the actions of someone in the process of being traumatized by any means.

  60. I can understand why the Pasha one was mean-spirited but I don’t even get the Ted debate. The only reasons I’ve seen so far is that “What if he was a mass murderer, and killed 20 people because of you.” They gave him free booze, a cake, and 250 dollars. What reason, besides lame, “What if”s do you have for saying it was mean spirited.

  61. I can’t believe most of the comments I have just read. I obviously live in a world of babies, who are so insecure that, rather than actually look at the facts, they have to wage an internet war against an "enemy" that they plainly have no idea about. But I guess if it’s good enough for G.W. Bush to do it in real life…

    Perhaps you people need to get out and take a look around. That’s right. Get off your lazy butt, get out the door, and have a look around.

    What I see is *not* good reasoning, but emotional hyperbol, based on half-truths gleaned from an entertainment-oriented show. It is clear that these are not real concerns for the people you mention, but your reaction to hide your own insecurities. Because YOU don’t have the guts to get out and have some clean fun, you seem to think that it’s your place to stop everyone else.

    I can’t comment on the case about Ted specifically, but I have read virtually all the mission reports. Did you bother to look at GoPs reaction and comments? I doubt it. You know why I doubt it? Because they POSTED POSITIVE COMMENTS!! THEY ENJOYED IT!

    DAMN!

    People aren’t ALL as fragile as you. Are you familiar with the way your immune system works? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s true. Every time you recover from an illness, your immune system becomes stronger. You keep telling people to stop doing things because of "what ifs" and society becomes weaker, as people become less able to handle the unusual in the environment around them. Eventually you’ll have to ban all human interaction, in case you inadvertedly pass on a bacteria they may not be immune to, or offend them unknowingly and cause long-term damage. In the end, you get a society not unlike in the movie "Equilibrium" – entirely sterile.

    What fun.

    So, I’m sorry, but "I’d be offended, so you shouldn’t be allowed to do that" just doesn’t work. You don’t like what’s going on around you? Do what a NORMAL person does. What? Oh yes, you aren’t familiar with that, are you? They walk away. Easily solved.

    Grow up, and find a cause that NEEDS your support. Don’t waste your time here by complaining. Constructive criticism is fine, but your time is better spent flaming PETA for "denying animals the right to die to become food if they wish" than flaming people here.

    No, I’m not a part of this group. Not being able to be in this group is probably the only reason I would ever wish that I lived in the USA…

    IE: Rock on! If I get any new ideas, I shall send them your way!

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