For our latest mission, Agent Lathan pretended to get lost during a Knicks game. Throughout the second half he kept appearing further and further away from his assigned seat with a confused look on his face. Of course Knicks fans went crazy trying to help him find his way back. Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our report below.
Agent Lathan first pulled this stunt for Improv Everywhere back in the summer of 2006. Getting lost at a ball game was a prank he had done spontaneously a couple of times in the past, and we decided to try to organize one for IE at a Yankee game. The mission turned out to be a total blast, but we weren’t able to capture much of it on film. Yankee Stadium did not allow video cameras, so we were limited to using “movie mode” on a couple of point-and-shoot still cameras.
Madison Square Garden
We decided to try the mission again at a Knicks game for two reasons: 1) We wanted to try to get better video footage of the prank and 2) Agent Lathan found a deal on $10 tickets. MSG has a similar camera policy, but technology has advanced quite a bit in the past three years. Flip video cameras are the same size as point-and-shoot still cameras, and some DSLR cameras shoot gorgeous HD video. MSG doesn’t allow professional cameras with detachable lenses, so we had to get a little creative to smuggle in our nicer gear. Agent Sokoler had the best method– she hid her equipment in her bag underneath underwear and tampons. The security guy flinched when he opened her bag and waved her right on through.
Agent Sokoler’s bag
There was a reason the tickets were on special for $10– the seats had an obstructed view and were WAY up at the top of the 400 level. This didn’t matter as we didn’t plan on sitting in them for long. The Knicks have a pretty bad record, so there were plenty of empty seats down below. Right before halftime Agent Lathan and his five friends headed down to a row of $89 seats in the 300 level.
The five IE agents minus Agent Lathan in our upgraded seats
The camera agents sat in the sections next to, below, and above ours, so they’d be able to document from a distance without tipping anyone off.
At halftime I got up out of my seat and headed for the concession stand. I bought a beer, a large popcorn, and a giant bag of cotton candy – the perfect accessory to add to my visibility and helplessness. Even better, the cotton candy came with an orange Knicks stocking cap – something that could add a little pizazz to my “lost sports fan” ensemble later on.
At the next break in action, I stumbled through the gate looking for my seat. I wandered up some steps one aisle over from my original seat when Agent Todd began casually waving his arms and saying my name: “Rob, hey Rob, we’re over here.” A few more agents got into it and yelled out my name as I glanced around in a confused state. Eventually I walked back down the aisle and disappeared back under the gate. By this time several rows of unsuspecting fans were now tipped off that some idiot named Rob couldn’t find his seat.
Rob, upper left. His friends, bottom right.
Agents Todd and Scordelis stand and shout at Rob
A Knicks fan tries to point Rob in the right direction
Laughing at Rob
He proceeded to walk directly in front of us while we frantically waved our arms and shouted his name to no avail. After Rob disappeared back under the stands, a concerned lady seated in front of me asked, “Is your buddy OK?” It seemed pretty insane that he couldn’t see or hear us from a distance of about 15 feet.
Rob gives up and leaves
By my second appearance, a few rows over, several crowd members now joined in and yelled my name, “Rob! Hey Rob! Your friends are over there!” Some misunderstood my actual name and screamed, “Bob! Bob! Over here, Bob!” – thus creating a perfect blend of chaos and mass hysteria.
Rob’s 2nd appearance, now on the other side of his friends
More people get up and yell “Rob!”
Rob disappeared again through the gate and continued wandering around the arena to more and more absurd places – from the opposite side of the court to the upper deck.
Rob on the opposite side of the arena
I kept an eye out for him throughout the game, leaping to my feet to point and scream whenever I saw him appear. Often other fans in the section found him before I did. Of course spotting Rob across the way was all the more hilarious since his red and white shirt made him look at bit like Waldo. With each appearance there were tons of people screaming, “Rob!” and waving their hands, trying to get his attention from across the arena.
After receiving a text from Agent Todd, I made a move towards my next appearance – a few sections directly under my original seat – an ideal spot to get maximum exposure. It was time to put on the orange Knicks stocking cap.
Rob in front of section 112
Rob’s next entrance was perfect. He was directly below all of the sections who were looking for him and he entered right when a time-out started. The crowd went absolutely nuts screaming for him.
What was at once the most remarkable and puzzling aspect of the stunt was the sustained patience of the crowd. We spent the last 3/8ths of the game distracting everyone within ear- and eye-shot by trying to get the attention of our aimlessly wandering friend. From both a cost and a value standpoint, the price of Knicks tickets is unconscionable. But no one got mad. No one took matters into their own hands (except one good-spirited fellow in a Cowboys jacket, who walked down two sections to point out to Rob where his friends were sitting, and then remained jolly when Rob still walked the wrong way). Rather, our section—and the section next to us, and the section in front of us—embraced Rob, and our efforts to get him back. If only the Knicks displayed that kind of teamwork.
At the height of this hysteria, Knicks cheerleaders started shooting t-shirts into the crowd. Amazingly, one landed right at Rob’s feet. Everyone laughed their asses off as he immediately put it on.
Seeing Rob catch a cannon-propelled t-shirt during a fourth quarter timeout was easily the funniest moment of the mission. I’ve been to dozens of sporting events where t-shirt cannons launch shirts into the crowd, but I’ve never come close to catching one. The fact that Rob caught a t-shirt while holding a massive concessions tray only adds to his legend.
Laughing at Rob’s new shirt
At this point Rob had been standing in the same spot for over a minute, and people sitting near us started shouting at me, “Just go get him! He’s right there! Go get him!” I hadn’t anticipated this happening, but I knew I had to do something. Why wouldn’t I just go get him? I got up and slowly started walking down the steps to get from the 300 level to the 100 level, making sure Rob saw me coming. I knew there was no way he would let me reach him.
Rob disappeared again just before I could get to him, and I returned to my seat, defeated. “I tried chasing him in the hallway, but he must have walked the opposite direction!”
I figured the only way to heighten my next appearance was by getting as close to the floor as possible – on the exact opposite side of the court. I figured I’d get stopped by the ushers, but amazingly they let me through. I made it all the way down to the floor – right behind the Hawks bench – and close enough to make a brief appearance on TV.
Rob on the television broadcast
Yelling at Rob as he walks behind the Hawk’s bench
A fan pointing out Rob to her friend
At this point the crowd around us was way more interested in Rob than the Knicks. Although they were ahead at halftime, by the fourth quarter the Hawks had a large lead. A group of kids seated behind us kept yelling about Rob, and eventually got a pretty big “Where is Rob?” chant going. The kids would also try to trick me, by screaming that they saw him across the court. I’d jump up and say, “Where?” and they’d laugh at me. “Your friend is an idiot,” they kept yelling at me. I just kept agreeing. “Yeah, he’s an idiot.”
The downside of the Knicks getting blown out was that fans started leaving the game early. The plan was for Rob to return right as the game ended, but this wouldn’t work if everyone in our area was already gone.
My seats were on the opposite side of the arena and I had to travel up two escalators. I broke into a jog. At one point I made a wrong turn and went up a staircase the led to a locked door. So while I was trying to get “fake” lost, I actually got really lost.
Finally I made my triumphant return. The entire section greeted me with a loud cheer.
High fiving Rob as he finally returned to his seat
Finally I made it back just before the end of the game. The entire section erupted in applause. Some youngsters seated directly behind the agents were especially excited to see my return, “Rob! Where were you?” I just shook my head and responded, “Aw man, I’ve been looking all over for you guys.” The entire section chanted, “We found Rob!” CLAP-CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP. “We found Rob!”
Cheering for Rob in the back
Rob received a thunderous standing ovation when he finally found his seat, and the scene that ensued was total bedlam. More than one hundred Knicks fans mobbed Rob after the game clock wound down. They hugged him, high-fived him, and asked for his autograph. It was like something out of A Hard Day’s Night. Rob posed for dozens of pictures while fans chanted his name. I guess rooting for Rob to find his seat is a lot like rooting for the Knicks to win – it’s a hopeless cause, but you can’t help cheering for the underdog anyway.
There was a group of European exchange students in the section right next to ours. Of everyone in the area, they loved Rob the most. It was their first sporting event in America, and they were simply amazed somebody could get that lost. One kid from Spain with a hoarse voice kept yelling, “Listen to my voice Rob! My voice is not for the Knicks. My voice is for you!” (I think he meant he was hoarse from yelling at Rob the whole game.) The group’s teacher asked Rob if he would pose for a photo with all of them.
The mission was tons of fun for everyone involved. It really did seem like everyone cheering for Rob legitimately thought he was lost. Of course the point wasn’t to fool people, the point was to make people laugh and smile at something ridiculous. It’s so awesome to see a crowd unite and experience something crazy together. Whether these Knicks fans ever see this page or not, hopefully they’ll always remember the night they helped some idiot find his seat.
Here’s the MSG seating chart matched up with Rob’s six main appearances:
We were sitting in Section 314
If this is your first time here:
-our nearly 100 other missions can be seen here: Missions
-sign up for our RSS feed and Newsletter
-New Yorkers join our NY Agents list
-We have a book and a DVD for sale!