Flash Mob!

For over a hundred years, comedians have used visual props like squirting flowers and joy buzzers to gain excitement from audiences and to garner laughter from their fans. In recent years, this same sort of phenomena has made its way to the internet. Using pre-designed and choreographed tasks and pranks, enthusiasts have been attempting to prank the general populace in what really amounts to the Internet's very own version of the rubber chicken: the Flash Mob.

When utilizing the Flash Mob, it is most important to upload your videos of the mob to YouTube as soon as possible. If you have ever searched for the Michael Jackson song “Beat It," you have probably been confronted with several thousand versions of the song and the video. Amongst these versions, you will no doubt have found several public performances that are Flash Mobs and you have watched them and moved on. But did you know there are whole communities dedicated to the planning, plotting, performing, and publication of this cancerous advertising stunt?


Rapidly becoming a world-wide phenomena, Flash Mobs are what happens when several out of work dancers and actors gather together to perpetrate what they like to call a “mission.” This causes many people to wonder, often out loud, "Just which rock are all these out of work dancers and actors crawling out from under and why are they bothering the hell out of me?" Once emerging from under their rocks, Flash Mobbers perform missions. These missions can range from a large groups of people freezing stock-still in a public place so that they obstruct and piss off just about everybody who does have a job, to poorly choreographed versions of the latest pop songs (and their subsequent dance moves) done in or around historic landmarks, malls, and sometimes public thoroughfares, prompting the question: “Why aren’t truck drivers, soccer moms who are running late, or infuriated businessmen running these fools over?”


What the people responsible for these public atrocities don’t want you to know is that they stole this idea from a group of inmates imprisoned within the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center also known by its initials CPDRC. That’s right, Flash Mobs were invented by murderers, rapists, pedophiles, kidnappers, wife beaters, arsonists, blackmailers, and thieves. The original meme video, performed several years ago, depicts a bunch of Filipinos trying to act out the dance scene from their favorite pedophile’s most famous song.

Noticing that the CPDRC video and the several videos that followed were kind of cool, opportunists like Charlie Todd decided that this form of socialized tomfoolery could be exploited for cash under the guise of “public entertainment.” Charlie formed his company in 2001, and, after a few successful videos were posted on YouTube, he was able to take “Improv Everywhere” online and public. After that, it was just a question of how many missions they could annoy people with while also making it to the bank to cash all those advertising checks.


Flash Mobs are usually coordinated via text message, Twitter, or by having the coordinator scream at you with a megaphone. Generally, the messages are received like “secret orders” from some government agency and the performers or “agents” will then act out the desired prank when some previously agreed upon signal is given.

Behind the scenes, the parties responsible will video tape the scene so they can upload their garbage to YouTube and then send the link to potential advertisers.

After the mission has been completed, all the agents give themselves a round of applause and go about their day. The mission controllers make t-shirts, coffee mugs, and web pages that are smothered in advertising in an attempt to cash in on the prank somehow.

The Law

In the United States

As you can guess, when one of these sorts of pranks occur, police officers might become involved. For example, the Best Buy invasion, where people were told to dress in blue shirts and khaki pants and then wander around inside of a Best Buy store, was shut down mid-prank, and the 80 sheep who were responsible were “kindly escorted out of the store” by area police.

Other pranks, have been actually shut down by police officers so that the agents would not further embarrass themselves due to their extremely humiliating antics. One such case was when a group of agents attempted to re-enact the famous “Where the Streets Have No Name” video by dressing up as U2 and playing music on a New York rooftop. Nobody seemed to care and the band kept playing. Eventually, the police were called in when somebody realized nobody likes U2 anymore and there was a lot of racket going on.

Finally, the annual “No Pants” event in 2006 found eight agents arrested on a New York city subway train for disorderly conduct. Because the agents thought it was cool that they could even troll the police, they decided to do it the very next year on the same day…only with 1,200 agents attending. Again, nobody gave a crap until somebody pointed out that hobos, homeless slobs, and bums were wandering around the city, lacking warm clothing. The event was turned into some sort of charity affair and everybody smugly patted themselves on the back for being so generous.

In Germany

Germany, as usual, takes things a bit too far:

Flash mobs are generally defined as "a group of people who organize on the Internet and then quickly assemble in a public place, do something bizarre, and disperse." And in the most recent German example, the trade union Verdi, which represents almost two and a half million employees in the retail and public sectors, organized around 150 men and women to head to a shopping center in Aschersleben in the state of Saxony-Anhalt on Thursday.

The flash mob entered the shopping center and proceeded to load up shopping carts with an assortment of goods before simply leaving them standing in store aisles. Instead of paying for the goods, the flash mob passed over cards with slogans like "Fair Wages" and "Fair Means More." Business came to a stand still for about an hour and staff told reporters that it would take them all day to put the goods back on the shelves.

Although police will press charges against some of the flash mobbers -- disturbing the peace, due to an altercation between one flash mobber and a member of the center's security personnel, as well as damaging property, because of damage done to frozen goods -- the protest was a peaceful one on the whole. And, as much as it may have interrupted business, it was also legal.

This flash mob came just two days after Germany's Federal Labor Court decided that flash mobs were a legitimate form of industrial action. The court had been addressing the issue of another flash mob organized by the Verdi union that took place in late 2007.

Improv Everywhere

Charlie Todd’s company, Improv Everywhere, is one of the main entities responsible for these agonizingly repetitive missions. Since they lack imagination or resourcefulness, members continually act out the same, tired pranks over and over, because, “what if somebody didn’t see us do it the first three thousand times?” They seriously attempt to force public memes ad nauseum.

It's worth noting that Improv Everywhere get notoriously angry if anyone, say, stands still, without citing them as the ultimate inspiration for the act; and yet they also proudly claim responsibility for the U2 mistake above; impersonating a band, copying that band's video, and playing that band's songs, the same day that the band in question were due to play Madison Square Garden. If they weren't such obvious hipsters, they could be mistaken for epic trolls.

Urban Prankster

Charlie Todd, not satisfied with his original group, went on to found “Urban Prankster.” The website’s mission statement is:

"Urban Prankster covers pranks, hacks, participatory art, flash mobs, and other creative endeavors that take place in public places in cities across the world."

So, not only is he unsatisfied with the redundancy of Improv Everywhere, he is now going to do all the same things again on yet ANOTHER website, just in case you missed it. Oh, and by the way, the pranks at Urban Prankster are just as stupid.

Break Out in Song

This is yet another one of those groups, only they're just a bit different. Not only do they annoy the heck out of pedestrians by dancing in public places, they also annoy the heck out of pedestrians by singing at the same time! They also carry out their missions with a hell of a lot more frequency than the Urban Pranksters and the Improv Everywhere members, averaging about one performance once a day and uploads every couple of days.

This frequency of missions have several adverse effects:

* They use “bottom of the barrel” actors and dancers.

* The people they use for their acts are really unattractive.

* They cannot lip-sync worth a spit.

* Productions resemble poorly rehearsed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade skit.

Since only New York City hipsters care about show tunes, you can guess who their target audiences are and to whom their advertisements are catering.


Ever felt the need to wander around like some lost dead person from a George A. Romero classic? Neither do most people. However, there is a small sect of nerds who dress up and wander around like zombies. ZombieWalk is a site that is all forum. Each forum divides countries into several regions, and within each region, there are even more sub-forums devoted to states. This has the adverse affect of watering down the ideas so totally, nobody actually shows up. It also causes the unintended problem of isolating nerdy zombie-wannabe's in your area.

A typical zombie walk involves a bunch of the people you didn't hang out with in high school gathering at some pre-ordained spot dressed as somebody covered in gore and blood. They then wander around drawing attention to themselves and annoying just about everybody. Finally, once they are done "zombie walking" (generally under a mile since most of them are out of shape) they all arrive at a theater to watch a zombie movie such as "Night of the Living Dead" or "Chocolat."


Trident chewing gum recently brokered a deal with pop singer Beyonce to promote their products. They use the song “Single Ladies” as background music while female dancers, dressed in skin-tight hooker suits, shake their asses to the music while chewing the gum and acting like they belong there. While it is a public relations certainty that “Sex Sells” it is also a human certainty that annoying busy commuters is a good way to turn off large sections of your customer base. Also, stopping busy rush hour traffic is a good way to get punched in the nose or run over by a bus.

Sample Pranks

The following pranks are taken from the Improv Everywhere forum, where users will often post and brainstorm ideas prior to execution.

The Bull Run

The Idea is that everyone meets at a set location. As many people as possible should be wearing a white top and a red handkerchief / scarf tied around the neck if you have white trousers / skirts then you should wear them too (the idea is to look like the Pamplona traditional bull runners costume).

At a set time a number people dressed as bulls will appear and chase the others down a set route and eventually into a large pedestrian public area . The runners should form a circle around the bulls and a matador or two should step into the ring and fight the bulls.

The route could go through anywhere. I think it would be pretty funny to have a couple of hundred people running through the city being chased by bulls, every now and then stopping calmly to wait at the lights before crossing the road. We could possible even go through shopping malls or department stores.

What we would need:

1: About 3 or 4 bull / minitore costumes and people to ware them (personally I would love to do this and am happy to try to make a bulls head but if anyone has skills in costume making, then their help would be very much appreciated)

2: Minimum of 1 matador costume with red cape and sword to kill the bulls.

3: Lots of people willing to run!


* The proposal:

ok..... i know that this might be a very lame idea… buuuuuuut... we should do a real life quidditch game in a very busy area!! like, union square or somewhere downtown… i was watching this:


dont laugh at me.

im just a really big potter nerd. :(

* The replies:

I love it! Though like Brian Evans, this really isn't a prank. I would seriously play this often for fun. (I'm a Harry Potter geek :P )

I don't really view that as a prank, just something me and my friends would do.... we probably wouldnt use robes or broomsticks though.

–Editor’s note…yes, yes they would.


I am also very new to this site and just joined the Urban Prankster Network in Sarasota, Fl. The idea that I have is taken from the movie Beetlejuice, the scene at the dinner table when all of a sudden they start singing the Banana Boat Song. We could do it in a restaurant with agents stationed all over the restaurant. I have no idea how to set anything up like this, but I am sure someone does. It would be a blast and really freak people out. Just a thought.

Walmart Harmonica

Walmart. Harmonicas. Everywhere. The first guy whips out a harmonica and just goes nuts. Harmonica skill not required. The other agents scattered around the store then whip out their own musical companions. Store goes crazy, lasts 1-5 minutes. Everyones watch beeps and silence falls. Epic :D

Bum Donations

I know Improv everywhere doesnt really do things for charity, but I would love to do this, especially since there is a lot of homelessness where I'm from. Basically, you get together, like, thirty or so agents. The more, the better in this case. Everyone brings a five dollar bill. Then, you find a homeless person who is begging for money, and one by one, with one or two minute intervals, every one walks by and drops the bill in the guy's cup. It wouldn't mean much to the agents, I mean, it's only five bucks. But can you imagine how bewildered and pleased the homeless guy would be? Depending on the number of agents, he could have a hundered bucks by the end of the mission! I just thought it would be a nice gesture, plus it would be fun to put on.