Now that the cat is out of the bag about our Best Funeral Ever April Fool’s Hoax, we figured it would be fun to share some of the behind-the-scenes video and photos from the project. Here’s how we did it, along with some of the more ridiculous things we cut for being just too over-the-top.
Obviously we would never, ever do an Improv Everywhere mission at a real funeral. The goal for the hoax was to make it just believable enough that people would think we had somehow lost our minds and crossed the line. It was a great opportunity to parody ourselves, while also celebrating April Fool’s on our site like we do every year. If you’re not familiar with the Best Game Ever and the Best Gig Ever, give those a read to understand the context of the parody.
We met in a park a short walk from Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery to shoot the “Agent Todd explains the mission” part of the video. I tried to play it real while also saying ridiculous things like, “If you can cry on cue, cry on cue.” You can see the “family” and the “priest” hanging out in the distance, out of the shot. We were also careful to keep the chairs out of the shot, since we would use them later for the funeral.
Coffin covered by a blue sheet
Agent Reeves had access to a Hummer, so it served as our Trojan Horse for the coffin and all of our chairs. I was very nervous about smuggling the coffin in without getting noticed. Surely you’re not allowed to bring a prop coffin into a cemetery. We luckily breezed right by the security guard at the entrance, telling him we were just there to tour around. Greenwood Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark, so people come to tour it all the time. It’s the highest point in all of Brooklyn and actually has great views of the city skyline.
Agents Lee and Todd carry the coffin
We had two “lookout agents” on duty while Agent Lee and I carried the coffin out of the car and across the cemetery to the spot we had picked out. Guards at the cemetery regularly patrol the grounds in SUVs, so we were very paranoid that one would drive by and catch us walking around with this ridiculous coffin.
Agents Nicholson and Walker adjust the coffin
I actually rented a really nice, realistic coffin from a costume store, but it turned out to be too large even for the Hummer. I guess that’s why hearses exist. Anyway, we had to settle for the wooden Dracula coffin, hoping that if we kept it out of full view it would still be believable.
Agent Adams films
Agent Adams and I spent some time in the cemetery the day before looking for the perfect spot for our funeral (and observing where and when the security vehicles patrolled.) We found this awesome spot right next to an enormous bush. The bush would help us out in two ways: it partly hid us from the patrol guards, and we could act like we used it to hide our cameras in the video. It was also a nice open space that did not have any graves underneath it. Obviously we didn’t want to make a comedy video on top of someone’s grave.
Shooting through the bushes
It was important that the people we cast to play the family members were not regular Improv Everywhere agents. We didn’t want people to spot someone from another video of ours. Agent Moore was able to get a small group of actors from her theatre company, No Tea Productions
, to play the parts. Agent Adams’ parents were in town, so we enlisted them as well.
Agent Adams’ parents: Agent Beethead and Agent Ruby Tuesday
Agent Walker owned a priest costume, so we cast him as the priest, hoping no one would remember that he also played the part of Steve in The Mp3 Experiment III
. We kept his face out of the video as much as we could. Agent Walker also made the music for the video. I gave him the direction of “upbeat funeral music,” and he delivered just that. It was also a chance for him to parody the music he’s made for other IE videos.
Actors laughing between takes
We worked under the assumption that at any moment we were going to get caught and asked to leave. Being a National Historic Landmark, the cemetery is public property, but they have lots of rules and regulations and surely filming a fake funeral is not allowed. We got all of the shots we needed as quickly as possible. Once we had all of the important stuff in the can, we decided to stage some more over-the-top moments, on the off chance they worked. This led to some pretty ridiculous bits that definitely couldn’t be used in the main video if it was going to be believable.
Agent Mather as the “grandson” spots the camera
Agent Lathan pays his respects…
…and then offers the family members a high five
Agent MikeTheMan won’t leave him hanging
We got some footage of Agent Reeves playing the part of “The mistress not allowed to sit with the family.”
Agent Lindquist steps forward to sing “Amazing Grace”
Actors cracking up
Rather than bringing his own flowers, Agent Ace$Thugg stepped forward and grabbed the wreath from the stand and placed it on the coffin.
He then tripped over the coffin when Agent Mather tried to confront him.
Finally we staged a moment where Agent Mather got so fed up with Agent Simmons patting him on the back, he got up to punch him in the face.
Once we got all the shots we needed (and more than a few we didn’t need), we quickly packed up and put the coffin and chairs back in the Hummer. A security vehicle actually drove by while Agent Eng and I were carrying the coffin back, but fortunately the guard couldn’t quite see us through the trees.
We had no idea how the mission would go over on April 1st. We figured it had a chance of fooling lots of people early in the morning, but once everyone knew what day it was the joke would be obvious. What we didn’t anticipate is that some people would know it was April Fool’s but think that the video was an April Fool’s joke on a grieving family rather than a joke on THEM. I couldn’t believe how many people thought that. It implies we crashed a funeral, shot and edited a HD video, and posted it to YouTube all in the same morning. Improbable! Also, why would a prank website just post another prank on April Fool’s? April Fool’s is the day everything is backwards.
It was fascinating to see the different ways people reacted to it. Many were outraged, some got it and played along, others didn’t get it but still thought it was a good idea (it’s not!), and more than a few claimed they would never visit our site again. There are nearly 500 comments on the original post. They’re pretty hilarious to read so check them out if you haven’t. Even crazier are the comments on YouTube where most people STILL don’t get that it was a fake funeral even though I’ve edited the title, description, and annotations to plainly state what happened.
But the hands-down funniest thing about all of this is that the evening news on CW 11 covered this mission as if it actually happened. They think the prank is on the family (our actors) when actually the prank is on them.
So basically the extent of their reporting is watching a video on YouTube and then describing it as fact on air. They didnâ€™t bother to email Improv Everywhere for comment, call the cemetery to verify, or try to get a quote from the â€œfamily.â€ They just watched the video and threw it on TV. Great journalism!
Update: The CW filed a copyright claim against us for posting their video of our video.
–Agent Nicholson’s Flickr Set
–Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set
haha.. awesome.. CW11 even got fool
Gotta hand it to you all…
I love the tv coverage, that was just the tip of the entire thing
So much fail, CW 11.
You guys are ridiculous, but I love you anyway. The joke’s on everyone who took you seriously. I mean, really, the amount of time it takes to load a LOW QUALITY video into a video editor, edit it, export it, and upload it to youtube is enough that with HD you would’ve gotten the video up… probably around the time they were going on the air.
This whole stunt worked so well on so many levels! I was one of the mourners, and I’d like to say to all of the other participants, it was an honor and a pleasure to be in the company of such highly skilled improvisational pranksters.
Just perfect. You had me all the way to the end. I was convinced you had lost your minds and gone too far. Then I read the comments and suddenly it was obvious I’d been had. Nice work.
amazing job you guys!!!
so good i didnt watch it before you putted it was fake because if i would had i would had even bothered to ask if it was true and just take off
you’re guys are amazing keep it with the missions!
I’m so releived that this wasn’t real. Can’t believe I didn’t spot this one, I even got youtube’s joke when I watched the video xD
A sad commentary on the ‘media’ and how the general public is informed and processes the information that they are spoon-fed from day to day. Otherwise, this was a great and inventive prank, as always – fitting for the day! Cheers!
haha, good one guys, CW11 wont even admit they were fooled they are saying they fooled you by pretending to be fooled. Cowards aren’t they wont even fess up that they got fooled.
Oh /you guys/. Some brilliant outtakes. Especially the high-five and Amazing Grace. Leyendas!
I love the fact that you fooled *US*!! What a great idea!! Bravo, bravo!
The girl in the green coat is still uber-hot!!
Well, u really got me and i’m glad that u really didn’t go nutso and lost a realistic view of the world. it’s a great prank.Totally got me! XD
Genius. The best part was definitely how much of the public STILL didn’t “get it,” not only after so many commenters gave it away, but even after IE explained the whole thing. As far as the outtakes, I lost it when Agent Lindquist stepped forward to sing Amazing Grace, only to be cut off.
Best April Fool’s Ever.
I have to say, you guys fooled me with this even though I’ve never fallen for any of the previous April Fools jokes on IE. I was pretty outraged about the whole thing and even showed the video to my friends to see if they were as outraged as I was. They were. Then I remembered what day it was.
Youtubers are amazing complete retards, aren’t they?
One of the people documenting via digital photo is a really good photographer. That was one of the things I noticed in the original post as well. Good for them.
Someone should send this page to them so they realize they were fools. :P Great to see the media get stung some times.
This was probably the least interesting Improv Everywhere project I’ve seen yet. When I found out it was a hoax, I didn’t really feel that much of anything – not cheated, not impressed, nothing. I guess that’s because the original premise was so blah. You guys have such a history of awesome projects, I can’t wait for the next one to hopefully wash the taste of this one out of my mouth.
Ah, the CW uses you to plug their website. Anything to plug the website.
The comments on this one are the funniest stuff I’ve read in a really long time. I just love all the people who were saying “okay, I know it’s a joke, but it’s still in poor taste.” THAT IS THE POINT. The JOKE is that the group did something in such poor taste. It’s just…it’s such an easy thing to understand…god, I’m going to die laughing. I love it.
One of the best social experiments I’ve seen in a long, long time. Great use of April 1st, keep up the good work!
Best prank ever.
Improv Everywhere: 1
Rest of the World: 0
CW 11: -infinity.
I’ve noticed recently how controversial people have felt about Improv Everywhere lately, and I have to say it: you guys are AWESOME. It’s one of those ‘no-two-ways-about-it’ things.
In some ways, it looks like you guys have too much time on your hands and you’re just using it to play pranks, but… what better way to use your free time than to better society?
The reporter put it in his blog. I don’t believe him but here is some of what he wrote along with the link.
“Burying an April Foolâ€™s joke within an April Foolâ€™s joke is controversial, and quite possibly illegal in New York State. But once itâ€™s been done, whatâ€™s to keep the alleged punk-ee from going for triple or nothing? What if I told you that some of us at PIX News didnâ€™t think this whole funeral thing passed the smell test? And that, suspecting we were being played, decided to report the story as if we believed it, to see if Improv Everywhere would fall for it, and think theyâ€™d actually fooled one of the local TV stations, and put us all over their website, with links sending people back to OUR website? Remember, it was April Foolâ€™s Day for us, too.
So you guys were great, and your gag was very funny. But what I just wrote? Now THATâ€™S good improv!”
That was unsensible. No one has the right to ignore Rob’s high five.
As my dying wish is that nobody will cry at my funeral for more than 5 minutes, you are welcome to come and make it so.]
Can I hire you guys to do my funeral?
I believe PXI has thrown down a gauntlet of sorts claiming they knew all along it was a hoax and reported it as news, but it was just a joke……. Anything else they might want to report on that’s “news worthy”?
Did anyone read the blog that WPIX 11 reporter wrote in response to finding out they were pranked?
They play it all of as if they knew the entire time, but honestly!
you guys are awesome! where did you get all the ideas?
I think even with the outtakes I woulda still fell for it… LMFAO what happened to doing your research or getting the whole story… did they even retract their story???
O lol way to pull it off news station…Sike wat idiots
If the news station knew it was an AFD gag, and they may have, they should have given a wink to that possibility. Of course, it is very likely that some newsies realized it and others didn’t.
I heard a rumor once that news casters are occasionally selected for their looks.
I thought the playgound looked familiar when y’all posted the joke, but now that I can see the building in the background in this set of pictures, I must ask, if that P.S. 130 you’re filming in front of?
The high-five part was brilliant!
you guys rock! more please!! and do u intend to do this overseas?
I know you’re not stupid enough to do something like that! But this is great, you fooled all of us!! The best prank that felt real