John Ward 1947 – 2010

John “Wimpy” Ward, one of Improv Everywhere’s most senior agents, passed away today. John was an incredibly kind, warm, and hilarious man, and we are all lucky to have known and worked with him. I first ran across John when he started taking classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 2003. I approached him one night and asked if he would be interested in playing a prank at a Barnes & Noble where he gave an unauthorized reading as long dead playwright Anton Chekhov. Although he had never met me and had never heard of Improv Everywhere, he instantly said, “Sure. That sounds like fun.” John was the kind of guy who said yes to life and jumped head first into new things.

Over the past six years, he has participated in nearly every Improv Everywhere mission. He danced in a window for Look Up More, stood still for Frozen Grand Central, pretended to be a Best Buy employee, and played Santa Claus in the very first Mp3 Experiment, to name just a few. In 2006, he figured out a way to sneak Improv Everywhere onto daytime television by using his position as a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? as an opportunity to play a prank.

John was adored by many Improv Everywhere fans, who were quick to celebrate his appearances in our videos in YouTube comments. He was a vital member of our group and the New York comedy community at large, and he will be missed greatly. Below are some videos and photos of some of John’s more memorable moments with IE.

John passing out candy canes on 8th Avenue for the first Mp3 Experiment

John enjoying a drink while playing Ted’s grandfather at Ted’s Birthday in 2007

John hugs and kisses a total stranger at JFK for the Welcome Back mission in 2008

John holds a sign in the subway for High Five Escalator

John Ward t-shirt

Finally, here’s a hilarious sketch John starred in that was written by IE Agent Ari Scott and staged at the UCB Theatre.

Rest In Peace, John Ward. We miss you.



85 thoughts on “John Ward 1947 – 2010

  1. Oh wow… That is some sad news. We will definitely miss you, Agent Wimpy.

  2. Say it ain’t so. I was always delighted to see him show up in videos, and he’s been a joy to watch in his IE antics. I’ll miss him! Wimpy, you’ll always be the best Anton Chekov to me.

  3. Wow, I’m speechless. He really was a fixture of IE and he will be missed!

  4. Oh my god. This is so upset. We’ll miss you, Anton Chekov.

  5. Wow — we were reading the Anton Chekov chapter from Causing a Scene just last night. Really sad — definitely the most recognizable agent.

  6. Thats so sad to hear, my thoughts are with his family and friends during this hard time. We’ll miss you!

  7. This is very sad news — I was actually rereading some of your older missions this past weekend and I have to say that the Anton Chekov reading is one of my favorites of all time.

  8. John, I didnt know your face or name 6 hours ago. I spent the time since then watching all the videos Inprov Everywhere has posted. I saw you in alot of them, and you were my favorite Agent. I finish watching the “Best Funeral Ever” and click on the website link. And I see you, and what has happened. Its absolutly unbelieveable that I only got to know you 6 hours ago, and I’m already saying goodbye. On a personal note,I would have taken the 16k too John. I wouldn’t have known what DHA was in either. Best of luck you, wherever you go my friend. My heart goes out to the fans, friends, and family. I’ll see ya when I get there John, take care for now.

  9. IE is awesome. Love the work. John Ward made it all the more fun. Condolences to all his family, friends and fans.

  10. I’m very sorry to read this news.

    I’ve been following IE from Australia for a while now, and from even just reading about different pranks it was obvious that John was someone who enjoyed life and went out of his way to make sure everyone around him did too.

    My condolences to his friends and family, and to his fellow agents who he has hopefully inspired to spread the fun and laughter.

  11. That’s really sad! I’ve watched every video and I can see John Ward played a large role in IE. Now who’s going to be the next big nice guy with a beard?

  12. That’s so unfortunate :( He was in some of my favorite pranks. RIP John Ward.

  13. RIP John Ward IE missions will not be the same without you

  14. He will be very missed… He will be chatting it up with the real Anton Chekov now.

  15. I have been going to UCB for over 8 yrs now and no matter when I attend John was there in his usual seat in the front row. He ROCKED some suspenders… that is fo sho!

    RIP AGENT WIMPY AKA Anton Chekov.

  16. An inspirational artist for all of us. I’ll miss his work.

  17. RIP John “Wimpy” Ward. It was always a delight to see your antics in any IE videos. Definitely one of the most recognizable agents; you’ll be missed =/.

  18. Agent Wimpy definitely embraced life – I loved seeing him on IE missions and hanging around the UCB class lobby. His “yes and” spirit will live on. I send my condolences and best regards to his family and friends.

  19. A very funny man leaves the world. His best pranks will keep his memory around. Thank you Agent Wimpy for the smiles you brought to my face. R.I.P.

  20. I can hear Saint Peter now: “Sir, we already have a Mr. Anton Chekhov here…”

    Godspeed, John.

  21. I just watched high 5 elevator 2 days ago to relive the awesome memory, he will be missed.

  22. This is a sad moment for anyone involved with IE, be it a fan or an agent. However, I want to thank IE for making me aware of John and what an incredible, funny, awesome guy. Thanks!

  23. Wimpy was the first agent I recognized immediately from mission to mission. It’ll be sad every mission from now on where I seek him out in the crowd only to realize he won’t be there. :(

    RIP Wimpy, you will be missed.

  24. “I’ve never had anyone leave quite so quickly but he new what he wanted” M. Viera

    Is this isn’t a skit… this is very sad.
    If this is a skit… this is genius.
    The fact that I will always wonder… priceless.

  25. Hats off to Agent Wimpy, a fine man and a hilarious comedian. You will be dearly missed by everyone who has participated in a mission with you, and by IE fans everywhere.

  26. So sorry to hear about this.
    John really was a character.
    RIP good man, stay forever in heaven.

  27. PLEASEEEEE tell me this another prank u IE guys r playing on ur fans.

  28. I’ve followed Improve Everywhere for a couple of years now. I’ve always wanted to participate and really hoped to when I moved to the city 4 months ago. John was a favorite of mine and I was hoping to meet him some day. I guess I’ll just have to wait a little longer.

    Rest in Peace.

  29. My sympathies. I didn’t know him, but watching him in Improv Everywhere missions always made me smile.


  30. What a remarkable, talented, kind, and intelligent man. I only met him once, but he wasn’t the sort of man anyone could forget. Rest in peace, John Ward.

  31. Oh no!! I fearfully recognized him right away! he seemed to be a very cool guy! he’ll be missed.

  32. Sad news indeed. He certainly added something special to everything he participated in and I’m sure he will be missed.

  33. OMG! R.I.P. John Ward. His death is a great shock to me! He seemed so active and full of energy! He will be missed.

  34. Mein aufrichtiges Beileid. Ich mochte John Ward, auch wenn ich ihn nicht kannte.

  35. This is a huge loss for the world to lose someone as dedicated, creative, impulsive, outspoken, fun and funny as John “Wimpy” Ward. He will be missed and always remembered. Rest in peace my friend.

  36. Why such terrible things have to happen on important day? On my father’s birthday. For a guest, who knows IE just from videos on YT, it is unexpected news. He looked so fit and happy! Good luck to his soul.

  37. Triste nouvelle…

    Would anyone be willing to participate, in his honor, in synchronized memorial services everywhere, and then sharing footage on the Web, for his family and friends to see how much Agent Wimpy commitment did inspire many of us to take part in something bigger than ourself.

    I believe it would be a proper way, a proper IE way, to pay our respects.

  38. Maybe John Ward was channeling Chekov, who wrote more than a century ago, “Try to be original in your play and as clever as possible; but don’t be afraid to show yourself foolish”

    By giving himself permission to explore comedy, let go and have fun, even though most of his colleagues were half his age, John displayed a joie de vivre that inspired millions. Thanks,IE and UCB, for sharing him with the rest of us.

  39. My heart just sank. ):

    Rest In Peace, Agent Wimpy. I thank you for all the laughs you have given me and so many others.

  40. Wimpy, a man with a heart as big as his beard. He would have made the journey to heaven with no pants on whilst holding a sign saying God wants to give you a high five. I hope that when he get’s to the pearly gates there’s a group of strangers welcoming him with open arms as he did to others so many times. The next time you hear the distant rumble of thunder it’s only God laughing as Wimpy tells the tales of Improveverywhere’s missions. Rest in Peace Wimpy may the laughter continue in our hearts for all time.

  41. Rest in piece, Agent Wimpy, rest in peace… IE will never be quite the same. Let there be IE in heaven.

  42. Besides his life of Improv, he was also a revered member of two local dog clubs – the Bayshore Companion Dog Club where he was secretary for a couple years, and JAG. Please make sure that his dogs are properly cared for and let us know if we can help.

  43. As secretary of Bayshore Copanion Dog Club he was always available to help and participate. He was a quiet level headed individual who hid his talents and accomplishments. He will certainly be missed by we the members of Bayshore Companion Dog Club. Rest in peace John See you Christmas time evry year. Gene

  44. Thanks for all the laughs John. I send my condolences to his friends and family.

  45. Wimpy no!

    He had to be my favorite agent. I hope he rests in peace and hope his family and friends remember him forever as a good man and friend. I hope Improv Everywhere will remember him well and I think we should have a global celebration of his life.

  46. I came to the website on March 31st to see what it looked like before April 1st and was stunned to find the news about Agent Wimpy. I thought, for a moment, this could be your contribution for April 1st this year, but knew you guys didn’t play that way and that the news must be true. Although I obviously never met him, I felt like I knew him through your videos and he seemed like a great guy. Rest well, Agent Wimpy!

  47. I think I might actually buy an Anton Chekov shirt in memory…

  48. I can’t believe of all days I should discover this news today. For one fleeting moment I prayed that this was the sickest prank of all. But of course it’s not. It was always such fun to prank and play with Agent Wimpy. Having a senior “senior agent” was a secret weapon that heightened a bunch of our missions and his “respectable” presence in the room led more people to believe what we were doing. “Of course this is real. That old man is doing it”. I feel so fortunate that I got to escort “Grandpa” to “Ted’s” birthday party. He was so happy that “Ted” and “Lauren” were getting back together. John was always down for whatever. he will be missed.
    Thank you John. And rest in peace.

  49. Agent Wimpy, you inspired me to read The Cherry Orchard, to remember that you’re never too old to stop being spontaneous, and above all, see life’s joy in a hundred little things. God bless.

  50. Being a fan of Chekov, that mission is a favorite of mine. Here’s hoping he’s still causing scenes where ever he is.

  51. Agent Wimpy has been one of my IE favorites and I am quite sad to learn that he has passed. My heart goes out to his family, friends and IE co-conspirators. John, you will be truly missed.

  52. Just think how good he is going to be playing God in heaven he will have the angels rolling over with laughter.

  53. John
    We at BCDC will miss you and Spy. I hope Spy finds another forever wonderful home. I never knew about this side of your life. Wonderful work.

  54. Sorry to learn of the passing of Wimpy. We’ve watched him in missions over the years and glad to know he has brought smiles to so many. Agent Bonkers, SF Bay Area

  55. I saw this via the subway riders event. Noticed the name JOHN WARD.
    My dad was JOHN WARD Seeman. 1920-2010. He was a theatre man too.
    May long live improv and the absurd. Though I did not know your John Ward
    I largely appreciate who I see he is and am glad for his important part in this world stage of ours.

  56. Thank you for posting all of these great photos and videos of John. He was one of a kind. I wish I’d gotten to know him better but I’m so glad he touched my life briefly.

  57. I saw this on April 1st .. and was hoping it was just an April Fool’s joke in bad taste.

    I live in Indiana and never met him, but he always made me laugh when I saw him in postings on here, and from what I’ve read he was a pretty cool guy. Condolences to family and friends; and may he have a hell of a time in Heaven.

  58. Oh MAN – he was a staple of IE pranks – he will be sorely missed :(

  59. we’re gonna miss you, john. we (as ie) will promise that we will make you proud. while we work on that, mind if you play a few pranks in heaven? say… drop some leprechaun gold, will ya?

    Missing you, even if i don’t know you!

  60. Dear John Ward,
    I’m only 12 years old but I enjoyed watching IE missons. Each time, I’d always recognize you in the crowd and very often, it made me laugh to see you. You have always been and always will be my favorite IE agent. It’ll never be the same without you.
    Rest in peace, John Ward. I will miss you very much, even though I’ve never actually met you.

  61. rip….could someone briefly clarify what his prank was that he played on millionaire?


  63. I deeply regret his death.
    Even if I did only know him from the ie vids, I had the feeling this man had a vibe, which I want to have, too, at his age.

  64. John was one of the best. He was a class act all the way and a good friend. I’ll pour one out for you tonight buddy. We’ll all miss you.

  65. Thank you John, I hope I run into you later somewhere in the cosmos.

  66. Goodbye John, you brought a ray of sunshine into my day on so many occasions, you will be greatly missed.

  67. Awh. That makes me really sad, he was great. :(
    I’ve been following IE for a while now, and I don’t think I ever really expected him to die; I mean, I knew he was old, but he’s been such a big part of all these missions that I couldn’t ever imagine him not being around.
    I hope when I’m his age, I can be like him. I obviously never knew him, personally, but he seemed like a great guy.

  68. Seriously..? He was an awesome guy..I wanted to meet him one day..Rest in Peace. ;_;

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