photo by Ari Scott
A huge thanks to everyone who came out to The Mp3 Experiment Nine today! Please use the comments section of this page to describe your personal experience.
UPDATE: The video is up!
Here are the photos from our official photographers:
– Ari Scott’s photos
– Arin Sang-urai’s photos
– Brian Fountain’s photos
It will be a few weeks before we have any video to show, but stay tuned. You can subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be the first to know when it is released. As always, all of today’s music was created by our composer Tyler Walker. Check out his site to download free songs from today’s mp3! This event was produced in partnership with the River to River Festival. Thanks also to SkyCamUsa for helping us film from the sky with a remote-controlled drone!
To find out about future Improv Everywhere events like this, be sure to sign up for our New York Agents Mailing List, like us on Facebook, and follow us on twitter.
And don’t miss our brand new video that we just released today, The Mini-Golf Open:
And here are some of our favorite photos so far:
photo by Arin Sang-urai
photo by Ari Scott
photo by Ari Scott
Did anyone else have problems with the iOS app? I had it open and the MP3 started at 3:00 on the nose, played for about 3 seconds and then the screen said that the experiment was over. Luckily I downloaded the MP3 separately as a backup.
Mine crashed after 10 minutes too. Luckily, I found a kind stranger who shared headphones with me. I lost her after the water gun fight though and didn’t hear the end.
Mine stopped about 26min in. I don’t think the mp3 downloaded correctly and it never verified/retried downloading it.
We definitely had some issues with the app. As we said on the download page, it was really a beta test for it, so hopefully everyone downloaded the mp3 to their phone as a backup. Mine crashed at 20 minutes and I had to switch to back up. The developers already figured out what went wrong and next year should go much more smoothly. Thanks for downloading the app and sorry that there were unexpected issues!
App worked fine for me for the entire event, so it was an isolated issue.
Ditto – my app worked perfectly! The only stutters I had were the result of my bluetooth headphones.
when I first downloaded it via the App it finished the D/L in just a few seconds (i figured something was wrong)… so I deleted the app and redownloaded the mp3 while in a fast wifi area… this time the download took longer. When I played I had no issues.
It was great for 10 minutes…then your app crashed and didn’t work again. Saying that the event was over…
Getting governors island was basically impossible, Im assuming about half your crowd was in Riverside Park.
I wonder how it turned out there since there probably were more “fans.”
there were like 5% of “fans”, when instructions were “High Five the fan” it was hard to find one, or when it was a slow-motion walking, I only saw one guy walking normal…..
I hate to be that person, but the sheer number of people there made it kind of chaotic. I loved the early instructions, but once we were in a big group I couldn’t even hear through my [over-the-ear] headphones, and… who jumped the gun on the water gun fight? It just seemed like people couldn’t hear/weren’t paying attention to the instructions/etc.
There were definitely a few rouges who started the water gun fight early, which spread to the entire mob. I guess when the whole premise was that everyone was a rouge agent, this was to be expected!
I was a bit off (15 seconds) with my mp3, but seriously, I was being sprayed in the face for about 30 seconds+ before I heard the instructions! It was totally fun, though.
I love IE and have been doing the Mp3 Experiment since 2008, when I first moved to the city. Love that you guys are getting much more notice and attention, but because of that, I think you need to stop hosting it on islands. The Randall’s Island one was kind of a mess since there was only one train going there, and this year was 10x worse than that. I was lucky enough to jump on the last boat and got there two minutes before the start time, but many were not able to get to the island. Next time, can you guys just do it in Manhattan, or at least somewhere accessible by multiple trains? Coney Island might be a good place; Central Park is the most obvious choice.
Sheep meadow in Central Park would be an awesome spot.
Yup – See Mp3 Experiment 2.0 in 2005.
We did it in Manhattan the past two years and have staged in Central Park twice before as well. We warned on the instructions page to get to the ferry terminal super early. I know an island is not ideal, but River to River invited us to do it there, and we love Governors Island.
East River Ferry was mostly empty. Comfortably seated the entire ride both ways
I´m still surprised at the number of people complaining about not getting there in time and problems with the app. The site made it clear to prepare for both of these issues. You thought even to caution people about their guns possibly leaking in their bags. How much more thoughtful can the organizers be! Haters gonna hate. Thanks again Charlie! It´s still amusing to me that this all started with someone mentioning you look like Ben Folds :)
Thanks Pete. Yeah, we literally spent months working on this and thinking of everything. No matter how hard you work a public event in a public space with thousands of people will have hiccups. Thanks for understanding that!
My sound just stopped on the 40th minute, but application was open and there were still “pause” button active (basically app were thinking it’s still playing. Luckily I downloaded the mp3 file also.
Exactly what happened to me as well, at exactly the same time. Thankfully I had the file downloaded separately, although I had a few agents to drench first…
Oh, and thank you for giving me a reason to pull my concertina out of storage! Yes, I was the guy with the tiny red accordion.
Upon exiting the subway at South Ferry, at 1:25 PM, the line for the Governor’s Island ferry stretched all the way back to the subway entrance. Thankfully the ferry staff were able to accommodate us so I could board the 2:30 PM ferry and not miss the event. Sympathies to those who arrived too late. Planning ahead is critical. Sympathies also to those using the iPhone app. My personal wish is that we could all be in sync, because it seems like every year I end up 10 seconds behind the rest of the group. But technology often surprises us, by failing when we need it most. #firstworldpains
Before the zero hour, the island filled with dozens and dozens of groups of headphone wearing people. Everybody trying to act casual and pretend they always come outside on Sunday afternoons, and check the time every few seconds. Some people open carrying water guns.
The moment arrives and a calm silence falls as hundreds of people quietly listen to Steve’s recorded voice. We give each other winks and see that nearly everybody in sight is playing the same game. As we give high fives to non-partcipants, the same ten people got high fives from dozens of us. They seemed to enjoy the sudden attention and status.
The big water gun battle rivaled the movie Braveheart in size and energy. If water could kill, this battle would be covered in history books for generations to come. Water sustains life, cools down heated bodies, and causes smiles.
On the way back to the ferry, I found a purple duct tape wallet. Someone offered to walk down the ferry line and try to find its owner, or mail it home to its owner. Hope it finds you safely.
On the 1 uptown train, I put my shower cap on and three people sitting opposite me put theirs on too, which confused and amused the poor tourists. My shower cap remains on as I write this and will remain on as I leave the city.
What a day!
That was me and my friends! I liked your shower cap! Confusing and amusing the ‘fans’ was a high point of the day.
Hee! Shades of No Pants Subway Ride.
There was actually a guy in a blue shirt doing the speech from Braveheart right before the water gun fight. It was epic.
I saw you with the wallet, I hope the owner gets it back.
An update: Do not wear a plastic shower cap in the heat of the subway platform in July. It just keeps sweat in. Ugh bad idea.
This was soooooo fun!
It was my first MP3 experiment and I had a blast. I downloaded the app as well but after 10 mins, it crashed and said the event was over. But there was a nice girl who let me use one of her earphones (Thanks Maria!)
It didn’t get me down though! Overall I think it was super exciting and we all DEFINITELY caused a scene. :)
My friend also experienced the app shutting down after 10 mins. Luckily, I had an extra phone with the app and mp3 downloaded ahead of time (in anticipation that my primary phone dies).
Overall, excellent experience and will do it again next year.
i didn’t have any problem with the ios app. i was worried it wasn’t going to start on time but it worked pretty smoothly for me. but yeah, getting to an island is kinda annoying when you have hundreds of people tryin to leave at the same time. i’m glad i took the paid ferry, but the line for the one back to bklyn was kind of ridiculous. overall it was fun although it made me slightly late to a trumpet lesson, lol. improveverywhere you owe me 15 minutes of trumpet lesson :-P
This was my first MP3 experiment and it was very enjoyable! My friends and I had a blast, my favorite part was probably throwing the stuffed animals into the air and also follow a fan! The traveling was no big deal, like you said it was important to get there EARLY. I arrived to Gov’s Island about 1pm, because I knew it would have gotten crowded like it did. Amazing time! Can’t wait till future missions. :-)
I agree. My friends and I arrived at the ferry terminal at 12:40PM and was in line for the 1PM ferry. We got on the 1PM ferry without a problem along with countless others who were prepared for the mass exodus to Governors Island. I knew others would be left behind because some people really don’t listen when Charlie says to arrive early. Shame on them, but I hear Battery Park had its own rogue event so kudos to that.
Super fun day, but seemed to be less inspired than last year’s. Maybe it’s because there were almost no “fans,” or that it doesn’t feel like you’re disrupting anything on such an isolated island. It’s also not much of a secret when it’s listed as an event on the River to River calendar online.
iPhone app was a total mess. I had to restart the app during the countdown to start b/c my countdown timer was 2 full minutes behind my friends’. Then it stopped playing halfway through, and told me the experiment was over. Luckily I found someone nice enough to share, but everyone I knew using the iPhone app experienced it stopping at some point. The app sounded like it would get everyone in sync better, but it seemed to create more problems throughout.
It was on the River to River’s calendar online last year as well.
I had a PERFECT experience with the app on my end. Played on time from start to finish.
This was our first experience and we came all the way down from Albany–so much fun and thank you so much!
We ended up in battery park(thank you to the woman in front of us from Brooklyn who initiated that!!) It was great to see the faces of the tourists on the liberty boats as we all dropped to the ground!!
Great time and totally worth the travel time!!
I was on the Island but my boyfriend got stuck in Battery Park, and he still had fun, so I’d like to also extend my thanks to whoever spearheaded that, since, while I love Governors’ Island, it no longer really seems a viable option for Mp3 Experiments now that it’s so big.
(For the record, while I love the Island, spending nearly 5 hours outside in muggy humidity on the Island for the really fun 45 minutes of Mp3 Experiment didn’t really seem good for one’s health – I was lucky I had lots of fluids on hand, but a lot of Island amenities and the ferries themselves seemed somewhat taxed by the overload, and I’d sympathize with people who possibly had to wait more than an hour to get off the Island because of huge ferry lines).
I took the 7 train from Flushing – Main St to Times Square… Then I walked the hour-and-a-half walk down south to the Battery Maritime Building. =]
My feet HURT!
The event itself was a good experience. First-timer here, and came by myself.
So, I like to think about today’s event in two phases. In the first phase we had fun following fans, dancing, meditating, walked around as ghosts, and stretched according to Steve’s instructions. This was great. It was a gentle introduction to imrpov.
In the second phase we had an epic water gun fight. It started calmly with both sides playing their anthems. We were then ordered to marched toward the center of the field and, without warning, someone fired the first water gun. Madness ensued, and, it was amazing! Congratulations another successful Mp3 Experiment IE.
Had a great time! Had some technical issues with my 7 year old’s mp3 player and she started to get upset! She was looking so forward to this event. Eventually we got her to do it…and she wanted to do it and just copy what we were doing and she did GREAT! Can’t wait for next year!
I had a great time from minute 10. My app stalled in the first couple of minutes…right after Steve said, “now take some deep breaths” or whatever, so at first I thought the silence was on purpose. I tried and tried but couldn’t get the app to start playing again. I went to the website and found the mp3 download and waited for that… Finally got to join in 10 minutes into the experiment.
I didn’t see a warning anywhere to download a backup or even a note that it was beta. I just now checked the app and only saw “version 1.0”, so if it’s only beta, it’d be nice if you made that loud and clear.
Had a good time once I got to join in, though. Especially flying capes.
And at Battery Park, we put up our canopies just as it started to rain–perfect timing!
Sounds like the battery park experiment went better than the governors island one, i had an awesome time at battery park and there were tons of fans watching. Such a good time, cant wait till next year.
I wish i would have seen you guys my wife and i missed the ferry…. the wife blamed me the whole way home….. talk about disappointing…brings me to my next point.
For an island event where if you miss it the ride… there should be a plan B mp3 that we can download ahead of time.It could make fun for all of us… but we could still all have fun, even carry out a completely different mission.
Thanks to whoever gave my daughter an orange dinosaur stuffed animal?. She loves it.
If enjoying the nature of improv is the core of these experiments, then the Battery Park Crowd gets all kinds of kudos! Stuck in a way too long line (even if you were there way before 2pm!), we participants took matters into our own hands and began strategizing with obvious participants about Plan B. Then when the 2:30 boat was announced full, some enthusiastic leaders went down the ferry line inviting mp3ers to come to Battery Park where, I may be going out on a limb but, we had TWICE as much fun cuz we really WERE an IMPROV improv. There was a great camaraderie that we pulled it off without any “officials.” While we were certainly sad to miss the real deal, we had a helluva an excellent time in our “consolation” activity. Thanks Charlie & IE!
Love that you guys did this! So awesome.
Thank you guys – my boyfriend got stuck off the Island when I was already there and he still got to have fun and participate in his first Mp3 Experiment (my 5th, I believe) and I was grateful for that. The greater annoyance was trying to meet up afterward with the lines for the ferries still running on half-hour schedules being ridiculous – I didn’t catch up to him until an hour later. Made me wish I’d been in Battery Park too!
We almost made it on the 2:30 ferry, we were among the first 50 to board the 3:00 (not including the second reserved line). This meant we got to start on the boat. Still had a blast! There were maybe 3 “fans” that everyone was imitating and it was hilarious. Also, when we had to drop to the ground and relax, the bobbing up and down of the boat was perfect for this. By the time the real activities started, we had made it to the island and all went smoothly. Loved the fun group activities, swapping items, and of course the water gun fight. Everyone kinda jumped the gun on that, but then again, everyone thought they were rogue agents! Well played Improv Everywhere!
We didn’t use the App so I can’t comment on that, I just used my iPod nano and engaged the lock switch after I pressed play. No issues.
This was my 4th and I’m looking forward to next year!
PS: Wondering who ended up with the Woot monkeys my wife and I gave out?
I took the paid ferry from Queens, which turned out to be a really great discovery– it was my first time on GI, and it’s actually much more accesible (from my part of town) than I’d expected.
This was also my first MP3 experiment, due to only being able to participate on Sundays, and I had a total blast. I’m an android user, so I just popped the MP3 onto my iPod and it all went very smoothly. I’ll echo the issues about the overwhelming ratio of “athletes” (only time I’ll ever call myself an athlete!) to “fans”, and the problem some had with the watergun fight starting early– at that point, I had no idea what Steve/Walter were saying– but really, it was all exciting. (And the rain earlier was a good warm-up/wet-up; you guys so think of everything ;-)) I think the first half of the experiment was more my speed, but honestly, it was all so much fun, with such a great atmosphere, and such a great feeling to finally get to participate!
Thank you IE, and here’s to many more!
I’m so happy that my boss let me have the day off for this. I almost didn’t attend and it was my first MP3 Experiment with my friend. It was fun looking around the island, since we were there 2 hrs early, and trying to spot others who were trying to be incognito. I only saw a few water guns (less than 5), and heard one group talking about the shower caps. The biggest giveaway for me were the white sheets being used for groups resting under trees before the event began.
When it started, I had it downloaded on my Android phone and was 30-45 seconds behind everyone else until I manually synced up well enough. There was one “fan” who was walking around, trying to figure out what was going on. I remember her passing me and calling out to friends, “Something is happening, but no one’s telling me anything!” Then everyone laid down and she seemed even more stumped. It was great.
The following of fans was great too. There weren’t many, but I saw a group having a picnic and they got into it, doing jumping jacks and dancing, with people mimicking them. The worst was the high fiving. It was hard to find others the further we migrated onto the field when most people were at the outside perimeter.
The ghost walk was amusing, and lifting the sheet canopy as Steve assured us it wasn’t raining (and the sky opened up) was perfect timing. The water gun fight was wonderful too! It was a blast.
I think the best part was the after effect. Smiles everywhere! I saw people playing instruments and starting conga lines. A woman standing poised in a shower cap, with her water gun at the ready, and a small board where she wrote ‘Victory!’ as her friend took photos. People were even rolling down the hill in their bed sheets. It was so much fun and I hope more friends join me next year!
This was my third time participating, and of the three I’ve done (7, 8, and now 9), this one was probably my favorite. So much fun!! I think Governor’s Island was a great location. We had no trouble getting on the ferry (we got there at about 12:50, and got on the 1:00 ferry), and although the line was super long trying to leave, the staff and crew did an excellent job getting as many people on the boat as possible. We were able to catch a cab and meet up with people in midtown by 5:00.
The event itself is always great, but I thought this year’s was outstanding. My favorite parts were falling to the ground, the ghost walk, tossing soft objects in the air, and of course, the Watergun Finale. I absolutely can’t wait to see pictures and video!
We had a great time at mp3 experiment 9. Sadly, we couldn’t make it to Governor’s Island, so instead, we did the event at Battery Park. It was still full of spirit and the most fun I’ve ever had. One question though, where there any Improv Camera Men at Battery Park?
A friend of mine grabbed iPhone footage and I think we connected with a couple of other people over there.
A million likes!
Thanks, we had a great time.
I think your app idea is really good. If a reliable one can be made, I wouldn’t even offer the mp3 file so people would be synched up.
Also maybe just before the water battle we could have attacked any one around us who had started spraying people early!
This was so amazing. Half of my friends were marooned in Battery Park and said they had a blast. I wish i could see footage of the Improved improv. Thank you so much ImprovEverywhere for another great event
For the group of people who spontaneously joined in singing Good Old A Capella with us on the Manhattan Bound ferry at 4:30, thank you for adding an extra level of awesome to today’s festivities.
It was with eager anticipation that my friend and I boarded the 10:40 train to Penn Station. Years of poorly timed camping trips and suddenly scheduled work days have finally led up to this – the day I was actually able to attend an Mp3 Experiment. I was determined; nothing was going to ruin my day.
Though I highly doubted any of my fellow agents would be obviously riding the same train as me, I found myself watching subtly for plain shirts accompanied with large bags. Nothing on the train ride in, as expected.
My friend and I quickly headed past the food courts of Penn Station; the subway was right ahead of us, and we knew where we were going. I already had my Metro card, but my friend needed one, so I waited on line with her, in the process greeting the man I will dub Stranger #1 (there will be 11). Our conversation wasn’t more than a line or two – “Hey, I have that shirt!” “Really? I love this shirt.” “Yeah, it is pretty awesome.” – but already I felt accomplished.
It was at the Metro that we ran into what I will dub Slight Problem #1 (there will be 2). Apparently $20 is “too large a bill” to cash out on a single-ride card. The machine asked if we were okay with a $21.15 metro balance. We said no. The machine said great, take your ticket, it’s on the right! I have no doubt the ticket will be put to good use at some point or another, but it definitely wasn’t planned for today.
Due to this event, we missed the first 1 Train and would have to wait 8 minutes for the next. I began my subtle watching for fellow agents once again, and this time I was rewarded. Standing just to my right was a small group of four, each wearing a solid colored shirt and carrying a large bag! I nudged my friend, quietly pointing the group out, but no confirmation could be made without further evidence, so we waited patiently until we came across it (we did, during the ride to the ferry, when I saw one girl pulling her water gun out of her bag). Fellow Agents, confirmed.
Though my cover wasn’t blown (as I briefly thought), one of the girls came up to us on our way off the subway car. She smiled at me and said, “Hey, can I ask you two a question?” We agreed, knowing already what she was about to ask. Sure enough- “Are you part of the mp3 thing?” I quickly shushed her, not wanting my cover blown to non-agents, but quickly nodded, and we soon parted ways pleased with our deductions. (This girl was Stranger #2, for the record.)
There was an initial moment of confusion as my friend and I emerged from the subway station. I knew that the Staten Island ferry would be right in front of us, but I had never been to Governor’s Island. At first, we were going to head into the Staten Island terminal and ask for directions, but our deduction skills were salvaged as we spotted a large crowd of people in solid shirts sporting large bags headed off to our left. Quietly, without drawing attention to ourselves…we followed them and almost immediately noticed the large “Governor’s Island” sign waiting to capture our attention.
Fellow agents were becoming more and more obvious as the line for the 1 p.m. ferry stretched along the sidewalk. Deciding to continue pursuing my goal, I turned around and laughed briefly with Stranger #3. We commented lightly on the number of agents, and nothing else needed to be said as we headed into the ferry terminal. The line for the ferry snaked like a line at Disneyworld. As we made it to the actual beginning of the line (not the extra lines made by all the people preferring the air conditioning to the outside), a man casually asked us if we were part of the event today. A code, we realized, and so we casually answered back that we were. He slipped us a piece of yellow paper and we moved further into the line. Looking at it, it suggested we download an app that would allow us to chat with fellow agents while waiting for the event. A good suggestion, but not one I would be able to take with my mp3 player. So instead, my goal of talking to strangers was fueled even further.
The line progressed quickly. The man and woman checking bags at the entrance to the ferry were trained well; neither batted an eye at the hundreds of water guns, the variety of musical instruments, or the myriad of small plushies stuffed into the bags of the people on line. I applaud them for their commendable effort at appearing unfazed – the woman only broke her rhythm for a moment to ask my friend and me when “this thing is supposed to start”. Taking only a moment to think on the level of secrecy for the mission, I decided it was okay to say “3 o’clock” and hurry on my way. I saw her nod her thanks and return to her bag checks.
Wanting to feel the breeze, my friend and I headed to the second deck of the ferry, which was rapidly filling with fellow agents. Many were abandoning secrecy here, discussing what they thought might happen at the event with fellow agents, some taking out their water guns and inspecting them for leaks. Others remained true, pretending they were on the boat alone and had no idea why so many people were there. Figuring I had discovered a good conversation starter earlier, I waited until I made eye contact with a woman leaning against the wall next to me. “Hi,” I said. She responded in kind, a little confused at first, but I continued on nonplussed. “So the little yellow piece of paper in my pocket told me to talk to strangers today.” Having gone through the same process back in the terminal, the woman knew exactly what paper I was talking about, and started to laugh. Thus, Stranger #4 and I launched into a lengthy discussion about a variety of things, which lasted until the ferry docked at Governor’s Island.
Upon our first step on to the island, my friend and I moved rapidly into phase two of the mission. Casually, we passed by Charlie Todd and his camera crew, who seemed to be preparing for the event. While inwardly I was excited to see him in person, I knew it was in the mission’s best interest to keep walking, and it was only after we had passed by that I mentioned all of this to my friend. We walked along the path until we came to the first set of restrooms in order to fill our water guns. Walking in, it seemed countless others had had the same idea as us – two of the “non-drinkable” sinks seemed to be reserved for the filling of our weapons. The process was efficient, and we were out of there in minutes, guns hidden away once again. I paused briefly to speak to Stranger #5, a girl hanging out near the bathroom. She seemed wary of my smile, so I left our conversation at hello. From there, it was a matter of finding a place to settle down and relax inconspicuously (given that we had an hour and a half to kill). While wandering I ran into Stranger #6, a man named Josh, and we exchanged compliments on our black t-shirts, and then walked together to a map of Governor’s Island. Working together, the three of us figured out where we were, then parted ways.
After stopping to get water bottles (and being disappointed that regular iced tea was $2 while diet was only $1.50) we quickly spotted two agents sword fighting on top of a nearby hill and headed over to casually watch. On the way, Strangers #7 and 8 stopped us. 7 was hoping we would “draw in her book” (one of those awesome “destroy me!” books). My friend (the artist) drew a quick sketch, commenting that it wasn’t that great of a drawing. 7 and I exchanged complaints about how artists always criticize their art. I furthered my point by drawing a stick figure next to her sketch. It was an angry stick figure, pointing out that it wasn’t a “cruddy drawing”, haha. 7 and 8 then decided to go try and participate in the sword fighting, and my friend and I settled down to watch.
We didn’t move again until the fighting was over – and only then because the sun was beating down harshly by that point. Climbing a staircase (“just because we can”) we soon found shade under a tree, and settled in to continue the wait. Slowly but surely, the area started filling up with agents – some inspecting their water guns, others comparing their hard, flat objects, and countless more with earbuds hanging from their shoulders. There were white sheets everywhere as agents stretched out lazily in the sun. Even more slowly, the minute hand on my waterproof watch (just in case) ticked towards the awaited hour.
Not wanting to be too obvious, I put my headphones on around 2:45 and started bobbing my head now and then, pretending to listen to music while I observed my fellow agents. At 2:55 I had the mp3 open and paused, my finger itching to press play while those last, agonizingly slow minutes ticked by. All around me, headphones were being slipped on, earbuds put into ears, mp3 players and iPods taken out and hidden in laps. Around ten seconds to the hour, an excited voice started a countdown, but was quickly hushed into silence by other agents. The mission was not to be compromised. Silently, I counted down the last three seconds with my fingers –for my friend’s benefit, whose pocket watch had stopped working a half hour earlier. At 3 p.m. on the dot, I pressed play, watching as hundreds of fingers mimicked the motion. I then managed to wink at three different people. Everyone was smiling, getting a kick out of what they were being asked to do.
Despite synchronized watches, it felt like I was a second or two ahead of everyone else. Because of this, I was able to get a ridiculous amount of amusement as the command was given and I abruptly dropped to the ground – seconds before the first wave of collapses began. (This had to be one of my favorite parts.)
Immediately after hitting the ground, I encountered Slight Problem #2 – not once, but three times. Problem 2 involved my iPod deciding it had had enough of the Experiment and switching me to a new song.
I took myself through Steve’s breathing exercises while lazily trying to lock my iPod so Problem 2 wouldn’t occur again. One of the ferry staff walked past and glanced down at me, but part of the mission was to not move so I pretended not to notice him. Though I hadn’t caught up yet, I stood up with the rest of the group and quickly walked over to my friend and confirmed how far into the mp3 we were, then caught myself back up. (I had to do this again as we moved into position to follow a nearby “fan”.) I may have ended up a few seconds early or late, but it didn’t seem to matter. The “fan” we were following seemed, at first, startled and alarmed when people began lining up behind her, but while confused, I soon saw her smiling as she continued on her way.
The command to walk casually away was given, and so I casually changed directions, leaving the line of people who must have been seconds behind me. Soon after, we began our slow motion walking – another fun moment. I slow-motion tried to tie my shoes – no easy feat when you’re still holding your iPod for fear of it skipping to a new song again. All around me, agents were walking so slowly they barely seemed to be moving at all! I slow-motion turned my head, but the only person I saw moving at full speed was the ferry staff man from before. He seemed to be getting a kick out of not walking, but running through the crowd of slow-motion agents.
The pace soon picked back up and my friend and I found ourselves scrambling to find a “fan” to high five. I saw one of the cameramen hard at work and considered, if just for a moment, running up and giving him a high five, but decided it wouldn’t be the best idea. We weren’t able to find any “fans” in time, but made good progress towards the park anyway. It was just as amusing seeing the lines of people high fiving the few fans in the vicinity!
More commands were given, and I began doing the opposite of what I was told to do. Dancing the opposite of a graceful ballerina was by far the easiest part – I just had to dance like I normally do! When it came time to choose left or right, my friend chose one ear and I chose the other, just to see what would happen. It was an amusing sight filled with many awkward handshakes!
Soon enough, I found myself running like a super hero down into the main arena for the competitions. I took Steve’s suggestion and began weaving around agents, my cape flying behind me in the wind until I was near the center of the arena. Turning behind me, I saw an amazing thing – the second wave of super heroes, streaming down the hill. It was a glorious sight indeed. Easily another favorite moment. As the wave came into sight, a loud cheer came from those of us waiting for their arrival.
Synchronized dancing was a series of laughs for all of those in my group. We clearly were not professional dancers, but dutifully we took turns following each other in a miniature coordinated mash-up of random arm movements and feet shifting. Stretching was also a great moment, especially when a voice, clearly not Steve, crackled ominously in my ear. Obediently, I held my position, fingers brushing the tips of my shoes as the voice explained that I was one of a select group of agents who would end up turning on their own team. Me, a turncoat? The idea was exciting, but I couldn’t let anything give away to my agents that I would soon be their demise.
Agents began to spread out as we prepared to create bed-sheet-parachutes. Stuffed animals galore came slipping out of backpacks, and the three members of my team of four – my friend and Strangers #9 and 10 – smiled at my cross-eyed frog and shared their own items as well. My friend had brought a small sheep. Stranger 9, a hamster (which I was pleased to take home). 10, a pack of tissues. “Your soft object isn’t as soft as you thought, it might be best if you put it away now.” All of our items passed. Grinning, we launched the soft objects into the air, scrambling to keep them airborne, yet succeeding more in dropping them. During our fun, I noticed three “fans” – a mother and her two young children – watching amidst the groups. The children were wide-eyed, trying to figure out what was going on. The mother smiled at it all, then herded them away after a flying plush came a bit too close. I noticed a number of other “fans” watching from the perimeter of the arena, and took silent pride in the fact that I was part of such a grand mission. I can’t imagine what this all looked like to the unsuspecting.
The first droplets of rain came falling from the sky, and jokingly, I put my corner of the sheet over my head. Steve’s well-timed cue to create a canopy to “keep off the rain, if it’s raining” came almost immediately after, and my group shared another laugh. We melded into the giant mass of white that was forming, then took out our hard, flat objects. My Disney princess plate drew laughs and a thumbs up from a nearby agent. We formed a small group and worked hard to stack our mass of random objects. A larger group swarmed past us to add their pile to a team who was actually doing really well at stacking theirs. We all looked at each other, then came to the agreement and brought ours over to help make tall even taller. Having been towards the back of the group, I came away from our tower stacking with an empty CD case, but had a good time all the same.
Our team’s national anthem filled the air. I added the sound of my coffee-can drum (painted and decorated by my friend, the artist) to the mix, and briefly slipped a headphone off in order to hear the sounding call from the other team. 50 paces soon separated, black, white, and color. The moment of my turning was quickly approaching. Our team began marching forward in silence, guns pointed to the sky in a wordless call to arms.
Then, the screaming began. I could barely hear the voice in my ear as those at the front of the group turned on their own. Black vs. White. Color vs. Color. I was not one of 300, I was one of 3,000, and I was quickly getting soaked. I ran, attacking any agent who crossed my path – hitting a number of faces and necks, admittedly, until the warning to aim below the neck finally reached my headset. I ran until the command to stop was given. We were berated for our actions. Ashamed at how easily I was turned, I looked around to see other agents exchanging looks, but soon we were all grinning and waving our flags of peace and surrender as both groups merged.
After the goodbye wave was complete and other music began playing in my ear, my friend and I engaged in a miniature water fight of our own to rid our guns of unused water. I convinced a few other agents to take photos of us in full garb, and then we prepared to head out…but not until after we had played a few rounds of Ninja. (I spotted the group as they entered their first game, and told my friend we couldn’t leave without playing.)
The wait for the ferry was long and hot, but it was also accompanied by bursts of energy. At one point it looked like someone was shouting at the line from what he must have thought was the safety of the hill. Suddenly, agents were cheering on some of their number who chased after the man with their water guns. At another point, one agent sparked up a few rounds of the wave. At a third point, one agent must have decided to take pictures with his small camera-that-doesn’t-look-like-a-camera. He set it on top of a tall structure, then shadily walked away and stood almost out of sight, occasionally peering down the line of agents waiting for the ferry. My friend and I spent the next five minutes trying to decide if he had just planted an explosive and was waiting to set it off. (He wasn’t.)
I ended the day by having one final conversation with Stranger #11 on the ferry ride back. It wasn’t long, just enough to ask her if she had had fun today. She explained that she had been one of a number of agents stuck on the ferry when the hour arose. I was almost jealous to hear of how they dropped to the floor of the ferry while confused “fans” watched on. How awesome it must have been!
All in all, my first mp3 Experiment – and IE event in general, for that matter – was an absolute blast. I really hope I’ll be able to attend again next year!
Agent Aelric, signing out.
A day to remember.
I was an official photographer and will be posting more water gun pics this morning! Like right now. My flickr link is above.
This mission was so much fun. I loved going to Governor’s Island for the first time and now I want to go back and visit for real! Looking over all the pics of smiling people always reminds me how much joy Improv Everywhere brings everyone–always for free and always positive. I especially love taking photos of kids participating or observing, knowing these memories will be with them forever. I also loved this mission because getting shot with water guns cooled me off in the heat. :)
QUESTION: Did anyone else get a rash from the grass? I have a weird little rash on my knees and the only thing I can think of is that I kneeled down for a minute or two to get photos from a low angle. So weird. I’ve never been allergic to grass. Just curious if anyone else has one. Maybe we can exchange hydrocortisone recommendations.
This was my third mp3 experiment and it was definitely fawesome! Yes, the watergun fight started a tad early… haha I was out of water by the time it said to start fighting :P
I ended up with a stuffed animal bird and a children’s book about princesses… I wonder who got my Pokedex and valentine’s day stuffed animal.
Can’t wait till next year’s!
best one ever. you guys continue to amaze. what is next years date?
best one ever
This was our 4th or 5th Experiment and, to us, it was the best ever. We though we were going to be early and were surprised by the line for the ferry. Many in line decided to go to Battery Park, but we chose to stay in line after considering the options: (i) get on ferry and land in GI with time to start; (ii) make last ferry and start on the boat; (iii) miss boat and go to Battery Park. Part of the fun is being flexible and going with the flow. We just decided that at 3 o’clock we would start wherever we were. Challenges getting to the island are part of the fun. We are both looking forward to next year.
Note to Governor’s Island – need more trashcans.
My first MP3 Experiment, and I really enjoyed!
I was one of the people on the “2:40” Brooklyn ferry, and it was really funny how we all started the experiment right there on the boat! It was okay, since by the time we were supposed to be hopping/ jumping, we were already on the island. So no harm done.
I felt bad- a few people were relying on me for the start time, since I set my watch to the clock on the site, but the app started about 30 seconds before that (others withe the app told me) so I guess my watch was screwy.
So I was a little off for a bit, but I pretty much caught up.
The water gun fight was awesome, although I feel like it started earlier than the instructions. I was near one of the cameramen for it, so I must look gorgeous, with a wet, streaky-makeup face, wearing a shower cap. :)
All in all, a good day. I got home EXHAUSTED!! (After waiting 50+ minutes for the ferry, and then walking to, and waiting for 2 trains home.)
I really enjoyed! I’d love to join the future experiments as well.
This was my third MP3 Experiment and I had so much fun! I was as sick as a dog (I never really understood that expression, but I digress) but my friend and I managed to drag ourselves from NJ to Brooklyn and took the ferry from there. It was a very crowded trip but the ferry workers were very good at keeping the line moving, and we made it in no time! In my experience, it’s best to leave yourself a great deal of time just in case. No need to even add the pressure of being late. We got to the island at about 1 30 and made sure to sit in the shade and drink plenty of water. It was great being early anyhow, because we got to sit and chat with some nearby participants, one who came all the way from Virginia and another family from Syracuse with the three most adorable children. I didn’t see them again, but I hope they all had fun!! My favorite part of the MP3 experiment is definitely having a shared experience with 4,000 other people who are just as eager to have fun as we are! It was a super smooth journey leading up to a spectacularly fun experience! Can’t wait for next year! Thanks Charlie and IE!
Where are the pics taken in battery park of the giant group of people that didn’t make it onto governors island for the mission???
My first IE experience went great!! My app crashed right after we started marching towards the other team (might be the reason for rouge starters of the water gun fight.. I had so much fun but wish I had more pictures for the memories.. I did not take my camera because I didn’t want it to get ruined but I did see more than 3 photographers.. Is there anyway I can look at more pictures, the three photographers here look great but did not capture any pictures of my friends and I!
I kind of knew there would be problems with the app, so I downloaded the file as well just in case. Used the app though, for some reason, and it didn’t start playing at all. 10 minutes later it read “The MP3 Experiment is now over,” blah blah blah. I tried syncing the file with a friend’s playback and even that for some reason took about 15-20 minutes. I missed a big chunk of it all because of some stupid malfunctions. I just wish that could’ve worked out a bit better. Other than that, it was great fun and I’ll be looking forward to going next year. However, while also making sure to avoid any usage of that app.