GALO: Improv allows people to work without boundaries. Over the last half-decade pop culture has grown to prefer improvisational comedy as opposed to the traditional punch line hilarity. Do you think this shift into a revolution of preferred shows like The Office has allowed people to identify more with what Improv Everywhere does?

CT: Not really. It’s confusing, but I don’t consider Improv Everywhere to be improv comedy. We use some of the tools of improv comedy in our performances, but it’s really a completely different thing. I regret having the word “improv” in the name of the group, but I guess when I came up with it, the projects were a little more improvised. They’ve grown into these massively choreographed operations. It’s also confusing because outside of Improv Everywhere, I perform improv comedy weekly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. I do think that unscripted comedy has seen a big rise in popularity over the past decade, although shows like The Office had outstanding writing staffs, and are far less improvised than they seem.

GALO: What is one thing you wish critics or people would take away from witnessing a mission? Have you yourself learned anything during the journey of Improv Everywhere or about people in general?

CT: I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned about people through 12 years of Improv Everywhere is that we’re all much more alike than we think. I’ve staged projects in countries all over the world, from Russia to Hong Kong to Australia. There are cultural differences for sure, but, in general, people react in the same way to what we do, both as participants and as witnesses. In general, the goal of Improv Everywhere is to bring comedy to everyday places — to catch people off guard and get them to laugh and smile when they least expect it.

Video Courtesy of: Improv Everywhere.

GALO: From your latest “Movies in Real Life” series, how have fans reacted to your pranks? One of my favorite episodes is “Harry Potter In Real Life.” I love how people played along with “Harry.” How successful was this series and what made you choose the movies that ended up being acted out?

CT: The series was a big success for our YouTube channel. We’ve never released weekly content, so it was a big change, but it paid off. The series had over 22 million views and added 230 thousand subscribers to our channel. We’re very happy with how it turned out. Harry Potter was a particularly fun one. The actor, Sebastian Thomas, is so talented. He handled himself so well in every situation we put him in, and he’s only 11. We chose movies that were iconic. The characters had to be recognizable for people to get the joke and enjoy them, both in person and online.

Video Courtesy of: Improv Everywhere.

GALO: Recreating the fake orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally at Katz’s Deli is definitely one of the most iconic. As the wave of women all began to participate, was there any reservation about this scene in front of strangers? How does the group prepare for this type of performance while keeping a straight face — was the performance repeated more than once?

CT: I know several of the women, especially the actress playing Sally, who had to go first, were nervous about it, but they all did such an awesome job. I cast improv performers who know how to keep a straight face — it’s one of the most basic parts about being a performer in an improv comedy scene.

Video Courtesy of: Improv Everywhere.

GALO: In your latest and last mission in the series, you recreated the famous “triple dog dare” scene from A Christmas Story. I feel like spectators caught onto it more quickly in comparison to other episodes. The scene you picked out from A Christmas Story is immediately recognizable. Did you and the team discuss any other options from this movie? And did you experiment with any other techniques than the fake tongue?

CT: Oh, I don’t think the scene from A Christmas Story is any more recognizable than Indiana Jones or Rocky, or most of the other movies we did. It was on a subway car, so it was captive audience, and they were able to see and hear everything a bit more clearly, so maybe that’s why. We didn’t think of any other scenes, no. The tongue scene is so iconic, and the concept of using a subway pole was fun to us. People have such hang-ups about germs on the subway, and the thought of licking a subway pole is just so revolting to New Yorkers. Once we figured out how to pull it off with a fake tongue and a magnet, we knew we had to do it.

Video Courtesy of Improv Everywhere.

GALO: The Web site mentions you hope to continue the “Movies in Real Life” series in the future. Can fans expect to see new episodes in 2014? What other films would you like to try to emulate?

CT: I hope we do a season two, or at least do some one-off episodes. YouTube commenters have been asking us to do Forrest Gump, though I’m not sure anyone has a real idea [on how to proceed with this], apart from having a guy dress like Forrest and sit on park benches next to people…which isn’t bad, but we’ll have to figure out a way to make it a bit more exciting. Dr. Who is another frequent request, although it’s more known as a TV series.

Editorial Note: At the time of this interview, Improv Everywhere was in the process of planning their annual No Pants Subway Ride event.

GALO: What are some of the projects you would like to pursue in the future? Is there anything you are working on currently?

CT: Right now, we’re working on our annual No Pants Subway Ride, which will take place in NYC and cities around the world on January 12. We have thousands of people do it in NYC, so it’s always lots of work to coordinate it and make sure it runs smoothly and safely. After that, I have no idea. We always come up with something!

Video Courtesy of Improv Everywhere.

Video Courtesy of Improv Everywhere.

To view more videos from the “Movies in Real Life” series, please visit For more information about Improv Everywhere and their events, visit

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Featured image: Agent Sebastian Thomas stars as Harry Potter in Improv Everywhere’s “Movies in Real Life” series. Photo Courtesy of: Improv Everywhere/Arin Sang-urai.