Agent Wimpy informed me back in June that he was going to be a contestant on the syndicated, Meredith Vieira-hosted “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”. Wimpy has been involved with several of our missions, most significantly as dead playwright Anton Chekov giving a reading at Barnes and Noble
back in 2004.
Agent Wimpy as Chekov
Wimpy thought his appearance on the show would be the perfect stage for an Improv Everywhere mission. He could invite up to 3 “companions” (the show’s term for “friends in the audience”) who would be mic’d and given the opportunity to speak on camera. We wanted to come up with something ridiculous for his companions, but we had to be careful, as it was not a live broadcast. If the producers figured out that we were up to something, they could easily cut us out. Keeping with the spirit of Improv Everywhere, we wanted to give the show a great story, the perfect human-interest segment for their contestant. Also keeping with the spirit of IE, the story would be completely false.
We created a fictional barbershop quartet that Wimpy and his companions were supposedly members of. Barbershop outfits are instantly recognizable, and the idea that Wimpy would be in a quartet with three guys decades younger than him made us laugh. I rented some barbershop blazers and hats from a costume shop and recruited Agent King and Agent Ace$Thugg to be the other two barbershop guys. As a nod to the Chekov mission, we named our group “The Seagulls.”
The Seagulls in the studio
We headed up to ABC’s studio on the Upper West Side and were herded into the audience with the other contestants’ companions. The Seagulls were instantly a hit with the other audience members. Everyone wanted to say hi to the “barbershop guys”. The warm-up comic made a couple of jokes about us. An old man sitting behind us asked us if we were traveling up to Bolton Landing for the big Barbershop Jamboree taking place Labor Day weekend. “You bet we are,” we replied, “It’s always a huge weekend for us.”
We sat in the studio for six hours and watched four episodes of the show, but Wimpy never came out. A few contestants took too long answering questions, so Wimpy was bumped to the next day of taping. We did manage to get on TV several times in the background as the cameras focused on another contestant’s companions.
Here’s a video showing a montage of Seagull spottings in the crowd:
Agents King and Ace$Thugg both couldn’t take off a second day of work to return to the taping the next day, so I recruited two new guys (Agents Appel and Rodgers) to be in the quartet. We wondered if anyone would notice when two completely different guys showed up, claiming to be the same people as the day before.
The new Seagulls
I returned the next morning and the process was exactly the same. We were herded into the audience with the other companions. The same people waved hello to the “barbershop guys,” and the same warm-up comic poked fun at us. One woman whose daughter was a contestant was a little confused. She asked Agent Appel, “You weren’t wearing those glasses yesterday, were you?” “Nope. Contacts,” he quickly replied.
Agent Wimpy came out at the end of the first show.
After he got a few questions correct, Meredith said hello to The Seagulls, and we sang hello back to her.
“Hello! Hello! Hello!”
Agent Wimpy answered a few more questions, and then the episode ran out of time. They took a break and Wimpy changed his tie while Meredith changed outfits so they could come back “the next day”.
Agent Wimpy with his new tie
Agent Wimpy impressed Meredith with his quick responses and decisive actions. He got a nice kiss after he was eliminated.
“A man who knows what he wants” – Meredith Vieira
Meredith mentioned that Wimpy’s beard made him a “chick magnet” and that he could double as Santa Claus if he ever needed extra cash. We couldn’t agree more. In fact, he did just that at our very first Mp3 Experiment
After the show, the quartet celebrated outside the studio with Wimpy’s $16,000 check.
We had a great time, Millionaire got a good segment, and Wimpy is $16,000 richer.
11 p.m. Thanks for another chuckle.
Hello! Hello!! HELLO!!!
That was great, thanks IE, Agent Wimpy, and Meredith!
I love it! Way to go John and the Seagulls.
Fantastic! We’re big fans here in the UK, spreading the word :) Cheers!
This was great. IE makes my day!
Sorry, but this is pretty boring, and way out of the league of the other stunts you’ve pulled. Are you guys getting soft and boring?
I’m surprised you guys weren’t "outed" with your sung hellos — ouch! :-) Great mission on a small scale — and I’m kicking myself because I watched the show before Agent Wimpy’s appearance but missed you guys! Bad me!
I was home that day, and actually happened to watch this on TV. I thought it was a bit kooky – no wonder! great job guys, and congrats to agent Wimpy!
MamaT.. they never did claim to be a _good_ barbershop quartet. *tee hee* small mission, but amusing anyways. Congrats, Agent Wimpy!
Agent Wimpy is hot, babershop is not!
Great to see a senior agent spreading mirth and joy.
Keep it up!
Keep it up!
That was the WORST, out of tune Hello’s I’ve ever heard! I can’t believe no one realized they were phonies. In any case, I had a big laugh! Good job, guys!
I’m missing a bit the "they’re-still-talking-about-it-at-birthday-parties"-factor
What was the big joke in it for the audience beside 3 men dressed up as a barbershoptrio?
Keep the good stuff coming and i’ll keep spreading the word in the Netherlands.
Subtle, but amusing. :) Great work.
I think this was a great low-key mission just under the radar enough to get you on the air.
And who cares if the hello was a bit off? Not all barbershop quartets are good ones. Trust me.
Oh my God! You Valerie Plamed Agent Wimpy!
I love this! Great idea!!
Any idea when this episode of Millionaire will be aired? Please give us a heads up so we can watch at home.
Pretty tame as far as missions go but great work given the restrictive circumstances.
The fact that nobody really noticed two new members in the quartet is hilarious.
Please post as to when this will air as I wouldn’t want to miss it.(if I haven’t already)
I loved it guys, great work for what you had. Way to take advantage of the circumstances.
Lame, with a capital "L".
Here’s your capital A, M and E too.
Man, get this one of the front page fast! I’d hate for a newbie to wonder upon this site and think this is as good as it gets.
This one was a bit tamer than some of your missions, but amusing none the less. You guys are so cute in your red and white stripes!
Great job! That was a tricky infiltration…only IE could have pulled that off!
This is perhaps one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen! How did they not notice that the members of your barber shop quartet changed the next day?
This one seems completely boring to me!
not as great as your other missions but still good. I loved how agent wimpy just said right out that he had know idea. it probably wasnt part of the plan but it is improv, and funny. ^.^
Great job, you guys. Agent Wimpy is probably my favourite agent ever.
i definitely watched agent wimpy on millionaire before i heard about improv everywhere. i love that i stumbled across this group. it has inspired me to take the improv everywhere antics to my hometown.
I love it! I’d start ‘Improv Everywhere U.K’ if I had the time, hehe! Well done to Agent Wimpy for his winnings!
Wonderful idea! Witty as always – and cheers to the star of the show – wise enough to deny greed and know when to stop. Kudos!
Very funny!!! you got a laugh out of me!!
A small stunt but still funny. Keep up the good work. I’m spreading the word over here in the UK too!
As a member of the barbershop community (yes, there is one for men AND women), I’d read about Agent Wimpy’s appearance on our message board before I actually saw this posted on the IE site. Let me tell ya – you had SOME of our people convinced!! ;-) Thanks for representing our art form & organization in such a respectful manner. Anytime you need an ACTUAL barbershop quartet on a mission, we’d be happy to take part!
My life is improv and making scenes- how can I join you? San Francisco
I lived at West 68th Street and was in the Audience the second day. It is just now that I realized what the hell was happening. Damn GREAT MISSION!!! $ 16 K not too bad either. Bravo
I’m not saying it was the best mission, but the main factor for me is, it was an opportunity of a lifeline.. err lifetime. IE would have been hard pressed to pass it up. I was still thrilled by it. Amazing job!
All of you people saying that this was a bad mission… think about it. Agent Wimpy had the opportunity of a lifetime at stake and it certainly wouldn’t have been fair for him to have to put it at risk for IE. He was already sacrificing a lot for IE, in my opinion, to choose to share this experience with them. He could have brought his family along, but instead he took along IE agents. Would you have? Really?
Given the circumstances, I think this mission was pretty well-done. Not only could the agents have gotten in trouble, IE’s reputation could have been tarnished as well. This is live TV we’re talking about. They HAD to be subtle, and I think they made the world a more interesting place. Isn’t that the point?
Thanks, IE. Nice job.
Oh sweet they’re reairing this episode today. I’m shocked to say I recognised Whimpy when he came out.
Wow… can’t believe that many people didnt find this mission amusing. I think its amazing that they were able to get something on the show in the first place. Great mission, I love every one of them.
I have never laughed so hard. Hello, hello, hello!!!
Today I was watching and recognized the guys in bandannas. I am sooo looking forward to watching the rerun tomorrow. Impressive they kept you on the show.
Love your group!
“Hello, hello, hello!” Was that in double minor key or something? :P
Absolutely fantastic :)
Found you guys on youtube and absolutely loved the idea. My friend and I were laughing at some of the places you could do a freeze person experiment (I work at an amusement park…so the possibilities are endless..LOL)…But great job at this experiment and it worked quite well :D. Thanks guys and keep up the good work as always.
ROFL. You successfully pranked Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Classic! I’ll bet they still don’t have a clue.
amazing! for some reason this is my favorite stunt
Congrats to Agent Wimpy on his win! :)
Wonder if Millionaire ever found out what went down!
I don’t understand why people are so surprised that this one wasn’t as funny. They didn’t really have a lot of leway here–any little thing they could have done could have gotten them kicked off the show.
I saw this episode, but I never thought it was an IE stunt! :) Great job, and congratulations for not getting yourselves kicked out!
I wanna see it!
I was in the audience the first day of taping less than four seats away from the Seagulls :)
Great guys, fantastic!
Spreading the word here in France, long time fan of your stuff.
I like the way he answered so quickly when he didn’t know. Not that I watch the show, but when I watch any game show, I always hate it when people take ages over a luck based challenge, or an answer they don’t know. Well done agent Wimpy!
When I first heard about IE and the ‘causing scenes’ behind it, no where did it say they had to be big. You were remembered, and notice… though not understood completely, by lots of people.
what i really want to know is: who were the two guys in shades? :-?
I watched the show, and never knew that you guys were fake. Amazing. My mom and I laughed when you started the ‘hellos’. Thanks for the laugh.
i want to jion improv everywhere but im only 12 but can i still jion. i REALLY WANT TO.
I saw this on TV and totally fell for it! I thought Agent Wimpy was just some weirdo! Hahaha you guys are amazing.