Human Mirror

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Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams / music by Tyler Walker

For our latest mission, we filled a subway car with identical twins, creating a human mirror. Enjoy the video first and then see below for our report with tons of photos.

Featuring: Twin Agents Barrett, Barry, Bell, Brown, Clyne, Doro, Drinkwater, Kruger, Kruth, Le Boeuf, Port, Rosenblum, Scanlon, Stone, Tattenbaum, Vieyra
Digital Video: Agents Adams, Carlisle, Cobalt, Shafer, Todd
Digital Photography: Agents Fountain, Nicholson, Sokoler

Our mailing list has grown so large that we’ve started brainstorming different ways to narrow it down. Last summer, we found out how many redheads we could recruit, and this time around we sent out a request for identical twins. Within a day we heard from over 50 pairs. Most of the twins could not make the day and time of the mission, but we were delighted to have 8 pairs turn out, nearly all of whom had never participated in one of our missions before.

We actually did this mission a second time a few weeks later. The first attempt was a total success in terms of how it unfolded live, but our video footage wasn’t as good as we knew it could be. It’s very difficult to capture audience reaction to a mission like this in the subway while still keeping our cameras hidden. We invested in some wireless microphones and a new button camera and gave it a second shot.

The second set of twins

Only two of the original sets of twins (the Vieyra and Port sisters) could make the second mission. They were joined by 8 new sets who couldn’t make the first date. It was nice to involve more people. We even had some high school twins this time around. The Krueger brothers weren’t present for the group photo above, but did make it on the train.

The Kruger twins, age 16

We had some fun taking posed photos

I instructed the twins via email to do everything they could to look identical. They did an awesome job dressing exactly alike and matching accessories. It really was impossible to tell them apart, especially when meeting 8 pairs at the same time.

The Barrett twins both had iPhones

The Drinkwater twins matched several accessories

The Port twins

The Doro twins

The Rosenblum twins

I explained the mission to everyone. We would get on the 6 train at the start of the line at Brooklyn Bridge and the twins would sit on either side of the car, directly across from their sibling. Once in place, their job would be to mirror each other as closely as possible. If one scratches his head, so should the other. If anyone asked them what was going on, they should claim not to notice anything unusual and not to even be able to see their sibling.

Even before the mission started, we were attracting tons of attention. People were running up to us and snapping photos of the twins at the meeting point. Several folks stopped to gawk as we walked to the subway. The hot dog vendor above couldn’t stop laughing.

The start of the first mission was particularly funny to watch because our agents weren’t able to get every seat in a row. There was a man quietly reading on the bench, and our agents surrounded him.

He sat and read his entire journey and exited not knowing what had gone on around him. To be fair, there were several people seated on train who didn’t notice at first what was happening. If you were only looking at one side of the car it seemed perfectly normal. It was easy to see if you were standing, but those seated had to look to their sides to get what was going on.

A woman quietly smiles

This couple was from Sweden. They were among the first the notice the mirror, and immediately started laughing and taking photographs. The woman theorized that there must be some sort of twin conference happening in town.

A man looks back one last time as he exits the train

The twins exit the train at 96th street

People coming down the stairs realize an army of twins is passing by

As with most of our missions, we got all sorts of reactions from all sorts of people. Most folks laughed quietly to themselves. A few got really excited and started asking others on the train if they knew what it was. Some were bold enough to try to talk to the twins. Some pretended not to notice and kept to themselves. Some genuinely didn’t notice.

Agent Cobalt recalled one particularly good reaction:

One of the best reactions I saw unfortunately was not captured on video to my knowledge- I think it was on the first time around and a tanned middle aged woman with permed hair and a rough makeup job was sitting on the train completely surrounded by twins. She sat there for quite awhile without noticing. Then she looked up and must have seen it in the reflection of the window across from her because she did a startled quadruple take to the left and right. At first she let out an uncomfortable laugh but at that early stage nearly everyone on the train was either a hidden camera person or a twin and no one reacted to her confusion. This made her noticeably more uncomfortable so she got up and moved to another part of the car and stared at the floor till her stop. She certainly had the look of someone questioning their sanity- an awkward testament to the stellar job all the twins did in coordinating their outfits, accessories, hair, and actions- the Rosenblum twins had the same song queued on their iPods- that’s the level of dedication these agents had.

The freaked out woman

The second time around was just as much fun.

This woman and her husband were really excited. “I thought it was a mirror,” she told me. The both decided to get to the bottom of it and talk to the twins, but our agents stayed in character and acted like they were crazy. It was fun to watch people like them get on the train and slowly notice the twins. At first they might just see one or two pairs, but then they’d look to the other side of the car and see seven more pairs.

A man snaps a photo as he leaves the train

This woman saw the mirror as soon as she stepped on the train

You may recognize the Stone twins from their appearances on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. They’re a stand up comedy duo.

Of all of the people we encountered, the women pictured above were our favorites. They could not stop laughing and talking to everyone about what was going on. The woman on the left did a literal double take when she first saw the mirror (which you can see in the video.) I sat across from them with my button camera recording as they tried to figure it all out.

One of the Stone brothers makes the other pick his nose

As we were waiting to board a downtown train after the mission was over, two guys were going crazy across the platform, waving and laughing.

Mission Accomplished


– Check out our archive of pranks we’ve been pulling off since 2001

-More photos:
Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set
Agent Nicholson’s Flickr Set

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211 thoughts on “Human Mirror

  1. One of the best parts of the day was walking around the streets of NY with my twin and the other sets of twins all dressed a like – from the giggles to the doublemint comments and even twin convention theories, anywhere twins go dressed a like people sure get amused!

  2. wow, this is amazing! you are awesome.
    i wish i could do something like that here ):

    take care!

  3. Very cool! Somehow, the Duane Reade bag is an awesome detail for a set of twins to have on the train.

  4. that was awesome, everytime I think you guys cant top a past mission you come up with another!!!!

    Well done!!!

  5. Aw, now I wish I had one of those twin people. A mission would have so been worth having to share my toys growing up. Great job!

  6. Love it.

    Anything that invokes a sense of delight and wonder in people is really terrific.

  7. Oh man! This is so fantastic! I’m so sad I missed seeing it in action… I was hoping to participate in and/or witness an IE prank while I’m in New York for the summer.

  8. Wait, stop everything! — why is there snow in the shot of the vendor?!

    Anyway, that was awesome!

  9. This is THE BEST of all of your improvs and I have been a fan ever since the rooftop U2 concert.

  10. Wowwwww, You Guys Have a Very Good Ideas to do those Video , Congrats to all Of You……and I hope some day Join with You guys in one of those crazy Missions. THX a lot for Give those videos to US.

  11. Very, very funny. Always a pleasure! Thanks for making my day!

  12. Ya know, for being a random collection of twins . . .you got some sweet looking participants.


  13. I always wished I had a twin, now I know why. My inner conscious was trying to tell me something!

    Awesome job, guys. Keep the missions coming!

  14. Excellent use of the growing mailing list. Bravo, bravo.

  15. Great job IE! Keep it up. My friends and I always enjoy y’all’s hi-jinks and wish we could participate. __:)__ NY is one of the best places for this stuff to work so well.
    — Beetle Bailey (TX330)

  16. @Jave, I don’t think that’s snow, but rather overexposed concrete. Since the foreground is the dark area under the vendor’s umbrella, the aperature is opened up and as a result overexposes the more brightly-lit background. This could have been avoided by using fill-in flash (when you force your camera to flash, even when taking photos outside).

  17. Omg! It doesn’t get much more amusing than that! I wish I could brave the city crowds to come down and see this stuff in person some day, or participate! It looks like you all had a ton of fun!

  18. You guys are good… very good. What a hoot!


  20. This was a brilliant mission! It’s times like this when I wish I was a twin. I can’t wait for the next mission!

  21. Great fun! You folks do the best stuff.

    I first saw you on “This American Life” and have followed you ever since.



  22. this is pretty funny

    i probably wouldn’t notice if i were there though

  23. I have identical twin girls and would love to be part of one of these. In fact there are identical twin boys next door too, and non identical ones across the street, and grown identical twins up the street.

  24. @Jeremy and Jave: Looks like snow to me…on the tree branches, etc. Also doesn’t explain the winter coat and hat the vendor is wearing. The folks in the photos aren’t exactly wearing summer wear either.

    Looks like a late spring mission in NYC to me!

  25. it’s not snow although it was pretty chilly that day. we were under scaffolding when i took the pic so the background is super over exposed! =)

  26. This awesome, only in New York, you’ll never see this in Portland Oregon’s Max system….uplifting story thanks.

  27. It’s pretty uninteresting huh? I mean what a waste of time, the reactions from the public were not impressive, dramatic, or worthy of anyone’s attention really. What a waste of time for everyone involved. I felt embarrassed after watching this.

  28. This would also be awesome in a large public square, at a public building, or near a fountain, where the area is laid out symmetrically, and people can just hang out.

  29. Creepy. I’ve got triplets, and I do everything in my power to convince my identical girls not to dress alike.

    I guess that at least these twins got their 15 minutes of fame.

  30. That first lady was pretty funny. “Maybe there’s a twin conference.”

  31. It’s always interesting how people react when their surroundings are transformed in an unfamiliar way. What youget is pure human feelings. Bravo to Improv Everywhere for creating these events which allow us to get a glimpse of humanity in a subway.

  32. the pic of the hot dog vendor has him in a 1/2 ski mask and winter coat–no leaves on trees and appears tree limbs are covered with a white powder- if u claim photo was shot in spring, why the heavy overcoat?

  33. whoah! this is the coolest thing i’ve ever seen.

  34. Man, I wish I gould have been there. You guys need to stop doing your missions on Saturdays.

  35. So pointless, why don’t you do something worthwhile with your life than bringing us this shite?

  36. How great is it that the Drinkwater twins showed up with matching drinks of water?

  37. Wow. That made for some beautiful photographs.

    I’m sure the twins didn’t want to spend all day executing your cruel plans, but there sure are a lot of possibilities with these matched pairs. You could freak out cab drivers by having them drive by (or pick up) matching pairs of cab-hailers.

    Or even on the sidewalk, if you passed five people, then walked past the SAME five people a second time, would you even notice?

    Bravo on an excellent new mission!


  38. Loved it and enjoyed the good fun. Just let me know when and where I can do something next Nov. in the Big A.

  39. As an identical twin, I can really appreciate this! It’s priceless! Good job. I love you guys.

  40. I’m not a twin, but I would have loved to tag along just to capture people’s reactions. NYC is absolutely the best place in the world for these kinds of pranks. Occasionally I hang out in Times Square or in the village and just watch tourist’s reactions to the typical NYC craziness. I really like the people who try so friggin hard to play it cool but you know are like dying inside! Lol! And of course, there’s always the people who wear their emotions on their sleeves so they hold nothing back! Gotta love this city! :)

  41. I think the video link is broken. I clicked play and all it did was show ads. It annoyed me, so I left.

  42. Pretty stupid.. pranks are supposed to be subtle, not obvious. Just as the lady said “there must be a twin conference going on”. Yeah, most people would assume that and you get no reaction except staring. Staring can be accomplished by wearing a bikini.. big deal, not very creative, VERY oversold.

  43. Quote:

    “This made her noticeably more uncomfortable so she got up and moved to another part of the car and stared at the floor till her stop. She certainly had the look of someone questioning their sanity- an awkward testament to the stellar job all the twins did in coordinating their outfits, accessories, hair, and actions”

    I guess it’s not possible that she was thinking, “great–I’m smack in the middle of some stupid artsy-fartsy psychological experiment some dope on the internet came up with. I have to get home from my 40/hr week job and take care of my kids because I don’t have the free time to jerk people around for my esoteric enjoyment.”

  44. Great job! Very creative.

    P.S.: The men had no shirts, when will we have a women only mission?!

  45. I think your video needs deinterlacing

  46. Hi there,

    This is a great project. What are the chances of getting a blown up print of one of these for my home?

    Many thanks

  47. is it just me, or is it not improv if they planned it…damn hacks

  48. I watched it on Good Morning America this morning, and I was like, “Oh my gosh, they got on the news again! I’m so proud!”

  49. Very cool! You guys are just so amazing & creative! I think if I went on that subway, I’d have thought I walked into one of those weird Japanese ghost horror movies.

  50. Hey Chicago- Naperville Ill has the highest occurences of Multiple births, couldn’t someone out there try and do something bigger or even with Triplets? Just a thought!.

  51. You made the front page of Yahoo. As soon as I saw it, I knew it had to be IE so I came here to confirm. LOL!

  52. i love this. i’m really eager to participate in a mission .. but i never see any ads or notices. how can i sign up?

  53. I was thinking it’d be more interesting if they got either a group of Japanese or Asian looking twins in Japanese schoolgirl outfits, or Japanese schoolgirl twins in Japan to do this trick.

    It’d be even more creepy, if you’re familiar with the film Suicide Circle, where a group of Japanese schoolgirls die from a planned suicide by jumping in front of a train.

  54. How is this improv? It took planning and it wasn’t “improvised” and after everything it really isnt all that great now you guys are just trying to hard and making fools of your self

  55. This is what i call ‘cooooooooooooooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll”

  56. Now THIS is brilliant. Very creative indeed. Charlie Todd, you REALLY know how to mess with people’s minds, don’t you?

  57. hi im a student of nyfa i need twins for my thesis film where can i found them?

  58. great idea. love what you guys do. i think you should do one where everyone gets onto a subway car with a large bushy plant, and by the time it is really filled up it looks like a jungle inside

  59. If I was on that train, I wouldn’t even notice all the twins.

  60. I’m excited about this. I was wearing my Improv Everywhere t-shirt the day this was on Good Morning America (Which I got very excited over) and I just saw a link to it on another website. Improv Everywhere is taking over the world! Yes!

  61. That was amazing.

    I helped at a charity show last May, that included the Stone twins.

  62. What wonderful creative thinking! No porn, no obscenity; mostly positive irony aimed at being humorous. This is what should be top news: attempts to show how humans can relate in fun and clever ways; showing how we are unique and alike, at the same time. God bless.
    P.S. Leave the nose picking for late night TV. Thanks.

  63. Oh wow!!! I’m an identical twin, and I would have LOVED to have seen this and participated! I live in Denver, though… Maybe my sister and I should attend one of the twin conferences. I LOVE the photos!!!

  64. Poor woman who had a hard time dealing with it. I guess you guys just think that’s part of the fun, right?

  65. Oh dear lords! If that’s Cathy and Emily Vieyra, and it sure looks like them, can you -please- bounce a “hello, small world!” from Jeff, the Asian kid who worked in the Bayside library with them…back in 1990? Feel free to pass along my e-mail if they’d like to say hello. :}

  66. …(assuming that they’re the ones in the white coats at the front of one of the photos) … ‘…you’re the last people I expected to be in on this sort of amazingly funny gig.’ Kudos!
    -Jeff again

  67. Note to self- Go to NYC and ride the 6 Train non-stop for two weeks.

  68. brilliant! i only wish i could be a part of IE. what you guys do is amazing.

  69. I had a twin brother, who passed away and to see this mission warmed my heart. Being a twin is special and my brother and I often would fool people. Tell you’re twins to ask for a dollar when ever they hear this question; Are you Twins? They’ll know what mean. Thanks for giving me a pleasant memory of my bother Dale.

  70. For an encore, take ’em all to Yankee Stadium next Monday, when the Yanks play the Minnesota Twins.

  71. Cool but you’re not really messing with people’s minds if you are blatantly filming them and giving them a heads up that something is going on… Kind of defeats the purpose, no?

  72. im thinking doing this in my own country…funny doh.really important is, people start to realize how interesting this world can be..keep it up

  73. Fabulous original thinking and phenomenal execution of vision of the artist and the participants did a splendid job by being themselves

  74. To Pete in Paris – it was totally undercover. (re – “Cool but you’re not really messing with people’s minds if you are blatantly filming them and giving them a heads up that something is going on… Kind of defeats the purpose, no?”)

  75. Absolutely the fricking funniest thing I have ever seen our heard of. Whoever came up with this it was an absolutely hilarious idea! :-)

  76. Is there an improv everywhere set up in England?
    If there isnt you should try to get one set up and to Improv Everywhere Global.

  77. Original idea… Pretty amusing. Good Job guys!

  78. An interesting experiment, but the fact that you are excited that your prank may have caused someone to have a disturbing mental episode is worrying, and highly problematic. I’m not saying this was stupid and frivolous, like some, but there comes a time to drop the act (e.g., if it might be harming someone inadvertently). Art is important, but not so important that nothing else matters.

  79. heyyy people nice job…
    keep it up, you are really awesome!.

    take care and God bless you.

  80. This is so awesome! I wish I was on the 6 train during this time but wow I’d be surprised if I saw them on my next ride =] Great project!

  81. This restores my faith in humanity. Beautifully conceived and perfectly executed! I love it!
    Thank you!


  82. you guys rock!

    I can’t wait to see what else you come up with.

    Maybe one where everyone (large numbers) brings a camera and simultaneously takes shots of random passerby’s or someone in the group as if they are celebrities?

    Like someone walking down the street randomly and everyone starts coaching them like “yeah, keep walking that way, thats great. oh, thats an excellent shot” but with 20-30+ photographers?

  83. I think you should combined 2 parnks. how about 2k9 no pants with twins? you could really get some good reactions with that. eample. Q. whats going on here? A. our parents couldn’t afford the whole outfit, because they had to buy 2 of everything. And I’m sure you can take it from there.

  84. The guys across the track, waving at the very end of the article… Are they twins as well? I can’t tell from the picture.

  85. How refreshing! This was not only an interesting sociological experiment but a wonderful bit of humor as well. The ones who found the experience as a switch from the mundane experience of riding the subway system in NYC will probably never forget it.

  86. fantastic stuff. try this one. Separate the twin pairs and create a “deja vu”

  87. Great fun! I feel sorry for the miserable gits who were not amused by your video.

  88. Pretty weak execution. This idea could’ve been hilarious. But all we get a few reactions that only be described as “slightly confused.” As if they saw a cow in the street, kind of weird, but so what. They are left to conclude there has to be a simple explanation. The reaction footage must’ve have been weaker than it appears, as even editing and a music bed didn’t spice it up. But then again, that music bed was awful.

  89. tat waz *superb* i’m a big fan of IE. Keep it rolling…u’r ideas Rock!

  90. omg thats the awsomeest thing i every seen i wish i had a twin it would be so much fun i would do everything with them and people would get us all mixed up sooooo kool

  91. This is AWESOME!! What makes it really cool is that you did it twice with almost 2 completely different sets of twins.

  92. I have recently “found” the improveverywhere site and this mission is one of my favourites!

  93. OMG. I love Improv Everywhere. Very creative and cool. I think it’s great that you make people smile and laugh and think. It’s great to briefly escape from the real world sometimes.

  94. I was introduced to this website by a fellow that was hosting me in Germany during my travels. I really enjoy what you folks are doing. The kind of effort it takes to coordinate these kinds of videos is immense, and I’d like to that you for taking the time to bring these together.

  95. this is really cool and creative …. i wish people would do stuff like this then killing one another

  96. I would like to have more than one copy of themselves.

    Twins < Triple Twins.

    Try that one, next time. PLEASE BRO.

    (u shouldn’t make a mirror instead a triple treat, 3 equals on 1 seat, then 3 equals next)

  97. wow,these missions are hilarious!!!! sooooooo unique and funny!! keep up the great work, you should publicize more i didnt even hear about this before i opened up a youtube account woow!

  98. OMG is this Emily and Cathy from Bayside, NY? We went to I.S. 74 and Cardozo HS together? Please put me in touch with them!

  99. Stumbled!

    And a good one too!

    It’s to bad it doesn’t let me click the thumbs up button over and over and over again.

  100. I’ve always wondered if you could make a McDonalds girl question her sanity by having dozens of people, one after the other all order their meals like a badly overdubbed chinese kung fu movie. You know, where the mouth and words are all out of time. In my dream you would need at least 50 people to get her to start thinking she was losing it, but it would make for a fun experiment. I figure that for the few people, she would likely think it was just people being dumb, but by the time you get to fifty or so, she’d have to start thinking “maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s me?”

  101. Wow.. Man you guys are freaking insane.. I would love to take part. Its like looking at a crazy painting or something arty.

  102. hey!I’m from China . May be we could do some thing here!! here is my

  103. at 1:45 there’s a mirror mis-match the twins on the left side look like they are hooking up (very cosy) ;-) very funny as I’m a twin and know of the problems of being mistaken for the other…..

  104. Wow, that is so awesome! We have 3 sets of 14yr. old identical twin boys in our school system. It is so interesting and amazing to watch these guys. Good job on the mirror subway!! We would be interested in taking part in something like that. We have alot of twins besides the 3 sets of boys in the small area where I live!

  105. i love it!! nice idea, i wish i was there to pic thsi event though, i dont have a twin as i wished. im thinkin gbout making a group like that here in my country. would be nice lol. well done people!!

  106. This is UNBELIEVABLE. I want the Vancouver branch to do something like this!

  107. you guys are truly amazing
    buızɐɯɐ ʎ1nɹʇ ǝɹɐ sʎnb noʎ

  108. Hey, this was awesome, the double take woman, i’m a HUGE fan of “improv everywhere” i’m an improver myself, and i’d love to be apart of this

  109. Ok… estuvo de excelente, de verdad .. como quisiera hacer una broma de esta talla…

    Yeahh… la improvisacion de los gemelos estuvo fenomenal

    Keep it up … visit Mexico

  110. hey there!! wooow! i love all of your missions i wish i lived there only to go one of your missions but i´m from mexico LOL so sorry about my english im not very good at it but woow please continue doing things like this you are very great… and crazy too :)

  111. WOW!I’ve never heard of something like this before. I wish I could have been there to see it in person.Really cool!

  112. wow,what a great mirror~~~
    I’ve never seen this before. I think if i saw this in the subway in my city, i will freak out at the first moment. XD

  113. AHHHHH I wish I knew about this sooner! My identical twin and I could have gone! :P

  114. flash mobs are cool! especially this~ this is so awesome! it made my day=] thanks

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