You’re walking home after work, planning to rest your legs, have something to eat, and relax. You think about things to do tomorrow, your plans for the weekend, when suddenly you see a ninja: clad in black, with plastic swords on his back — arms crossed on his chest. You cannot see his face; it’s hidden behind a mask. You approach him, curious. There is a sign and another plastic katana at his feet. “FIGHT ME,” you read the sign.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” you say to yourself as you lift your newfound sword and adopt a fighting stance. The ninja looks at you, lifts his sword as well, and attacks! The problem is… suddenly there are more ninjas! They are running from every side, charging at you from every direction, and there is at least a hundred of them! You start running, fighting one ninja at a time, but there are too many and you don’t know how long you will last…
If this looks like a scene from a bad comedy movie to you, then you may be right — but this stuff happens. This was one of the many pranks the group Improv In Toronto specializes in, and it sure was funny — just check the video! Improv In Toronto organizes hundreds of young people to pull off improvisation pranks like this one. Maybe you remember stuff like “Time Freeze” when people stopped whatever they were doing and froze at the same time?
Improv In Toronto describes itself as “a free, non-profit, public, urban, event-running group,” while their goal is meeting new friends, trying new things, and enjoying the city they live in. They do this by running both large and small public games, events, and pranks to shake up people’s day. They started through the inspiration of Improv Everywhere in January 2008. They began using a website known as the Urban Prankster Network, and they plan to stay in Toronto for years to come.
You might ask why they call it “improv” when some of their missions are clearly pre-planned. “We are not claiming that everything we do is improv. The name reflects our idea of taking the skill of improv acting, and bringing it to life in public places. We stay in character at all costs and interact with members of the public with no script beyond the mission’s idea. We have no clue how people are going to react to us, and that is where the improvisation comes in. Sometimes people misread our URL as ‘Improve Toronto,’ and in some ways, it is a good example of what we try to do,” the group explains on their website.
If this sounds like a good idea to you, then why not participate as well? It’s ridiculously easy: just join their Facebook group and mailing list . That way, even if you’re not in Toronto but plan to visit, you will know if some “mission” is about to start. If you don’t live in Toronto but you would like to organize something like this, you should join The Prankster Network, as there probably is a local IE-inspired group somewhere in your city already.