He started the group in August of 2001 when he played his first prank in Manhattan by pretending to be musician Ben Folds at a local bar.
To date, Improv Everywhere has carried out over 100 missions with notable ones including New York’s infamous No Pants Subway Ride, Frozen Grand Central, Mp3 Experiment, The Subway Spa and Black Tie Beach Party.
Todd has also given a TED Talk about the importance of play in adulthood and the philosophy behind his public pranks.
He continues to perform at UCB Theatre where he taught for many years prior.
Ari: Speaking of the Best Buy video and the “Rob wants to give you a high five,” there’s an older gentleman with a beard. He’s sort of a bubbly individual, looks like a hip Santa Claus. What is his deal? Is he just an Improv Everywhere number one fan?
Charlie: He has actually passed away, unfortunately.
Ari: Oh, sorry to hear that.
Charlie: Yeah, a couple of years ago he passed away. His name was John Ward. I think he was in his sixties when he started performing with Improv Everywhere around 2004. He was taking classes at UCB Theatre and I saw him on the front row, and I was like, wow, I can’t believe this guy is taking a class here. UCB is a lot more diverse now than it used to be. At the time it was a lot of 23-year-old white dudes. And now it’s like, we’re known for all the awesome female performers that have come out of that theater. And its diverse in age and race and everything. But at the time it was certainly unusual for there to be a guy that looked like Santa Claus taking classes. So I immediately befriended him and started recruiting him to be in our videos.
Cinematography: Danielle Calodney & Dyani Douze
Edited by: Danielle Calodney
Interviewed by: Ari King