Comedians Pull a 'Pants Off Prank'

Improv Everywhere stunt

Improv Everywhere comedians during a 'No Pants!' subway ride. Improv Everywhere hide caption

itoggle caption Improv Everywhere

The unorthodox New York comedy group "Improv Everywhere" pulls pranks in public places. This Saturday, the idea is to "dance off with your pants off!" Member Alan Corey reveals almost all.

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BILL WOLFF, host:

And now, we have an advisory for our listeners who use commuter trains. Be alerted that this Saturday, your fellow straphangers might not be wearing pants.

ALISON STEWART, host:

What?

WOLFF: Listeners are advised to remain calm. Those people in their underwear come in peace. Saturday is simply the 7th Annual No Pants Subway Ride or No Pants 2K8 as it's also known. No Pants 2K8 is the brainchild of Improv Everywhere, a New York comedy group that stages cruelty-free pranks in public places. They often employ hundreds of strangers known as agents to get them involved in the prank.

Veteran Improv Everywhere agent, Alan Corey, proudly joins us with his pants on. I'm a witness.

STEWART: His pants are on. I just checked.

WOLFF: Here in our…

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: Here in our…

Mr. ALAN COREY (Member, Improv Everywhere): Watch Saturday.

WOLFF: What - you checked?

STEWART: I just…

WOLFF: In front of me?

(Soundbite of laughter)

WOLFF: Alan joins us in the studio. Hello, Alan. How are you?

Mr. COREY: Hello. Thanks for having me.

WOLFF: All right. So you're - I assume you're going on No Pants 2K8. You're going to go pantless on the New York streets or subway.

Mr. COREY: Sure. I wouldn't miss it. I've done it for the past five years.

WOLFF: Why?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COREY: Well, it's fun. It's fun. It's a prank where we're embarrassed. You don't have a victim. Like we said, we do victimless pranks. And there's no reveal either. It's kind of what - Improv Everywhere is a little bit different. We don't say, this is what we do. Check our Web site. We just leave. And then these people, who are on train with us, they have this New York experience where it's like, you guys won't believe what happened to me today. You know, 400 people came on the subway without their pants on and then, they just left. And it's just one of those, you know, only New York moments. Art for art's sake, we like to say.

WOLFF: But no rule word necessary. You do it for the love of the game. You're on the train, you're surrounded by dozens and maybe hundreds of people in their underpants. What's it like? Everybody laughing, giggling, straight-faces - what happens?

Mr. COREY: Well, all the agents are straight-faced. They just pretend that it's normal.

STEWART: Reading the New York Post.

Mr. COREY: Yeah.

WOLFF: Drinking a coffee.

STEWART: Doing a crossword.

Mr. COREY: They listen to MP3 player - whatever it is you would normally do on the subway. And you're just supposed to play it, you know, normally, like a normal day. And people will ask you, you know, what's going on? And you just say, you have a back story. I was in a hurry this morning and I didn't want to miss the train or…

WOLFF: Oh gosh. I'm not - Oh my god.

Mr. COREY: Yeah.

WOLFF: I'm not wearing pants.

Mr. COREY: Exactly. You can come up with any sort of thing you want. Just - you don't say anything unless you're addressed if someone's asked.

WOLFF: And what have you found in your many - what do you say, five years?

Mr. COREY: I've done it five years, yes.

WOLFF: This will be your sixth or your fifth? We got to keep this straight.

Mr. COREY: I think this is my sixth.

WOLFF: Sixth year.

Mr. COREY: Right.

WOLFF: So in your five previous pantsless incarnations on the New York City subways, what is the average response from the crowd? Do people laugh? Are people shocked?

Mr. COREY: Well, it's funny because we're spread out, because we do it so every single subway stop, a few more people trickle in with no pants on. So if - when you get in, we're like - I'd usually be among the first because everyone needs someone who's done - I had experienced before - to kind of lead the way.

And so everyone's kind of looking at you and acting weird, and they're snickering and kind of like look into the friend and eyeballing all the other strangers on the subway. The next subway stop, it happens again. And then, they're like, what's going on? And then the next subway is up. And it just keeps building and building and building. And by the time you get to the end and it's just jam-packed with people with no pants, everyone's laughing and having a blast.

WOLFF: Okay. Now…

STEWART: I have a one question.

Mr. COREY: Yes.

STEWART: How do you make a living?

Mr. COREY: How do I make a living? I'm actually an author.

STEWART: Okay.

Mr. COREY: Yeah, yeah.

WOLFF: Of course, there is. What are you talking about?

STEWART: So you're on - a freelance author?

Mr. COREY: Yeah, well…

STEWART: So you're around and just sitting around in your underpants anyway.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COREY: Yeah, exactly. I'm comfortable with my underwear, you can say that.

WOLFF: It's an obvious question. With the possible exception of certain European countries, ladies' underpants are generally smaller than men's underpants. What is your ratio of men to women who are willing to be in their underpants on the subway?

Mr. COREY: Yeah. That's a normal question. And it's about 60-40 - 60 percent men, 40 women - because you have to comfort in numbers.

WOLFF: Mm-hmm.

Mr. COREY: And you get to choose what kind of underwear you're going to be wearing because you know you're going to be doing this in advance.

WOLFF: Mm-hmm.

Mr. COREY: And, you know, you can wear tights, you know, I've seen girls wear some pretty sexy things, but that's their choice. And…

WOLFF: What is the effect of a sexy thing on the least sexy place on Earth -the subway?

STEWART: The subway.

Mr. COREY: That's what makes it fun.

WOLFF: Talk about a chocolate-covered pickle. These two things don't go together.

Mr. COREY: Well, I'll tell you what. It does make your community that much more enjoyable. It's - that's the thing. You don't know how people are going to react. You don't know really, you know, our biggest one to date is 600 people. We have 450 confirmed for our scheduled no pants outing this Saturday. And usually, you know, more people come than are confirmed. And so it's - one of the things, we don't know how the agents will react. We don't know how the people in the subway react.

STEWART: Has the New York Police Department reacted with your presence?

Mr. COREY: Yes.

WOLFF: Favorably or unfavorably?

Mr. COREY: They've - they did arrest six people two years ago. And they give them the summons. They were turned in jail for about an hour and a half.

WOLFF: In their underpants?

Mr. COREY: In their underpants.

WOLFF: Well, now, see.

Mr. COREY: And then they're immediately released because there are not - it's not against the law to be in public in your underwear.

WOLFF: Good to know.

Mr. COREY: It's good to know. And so now there's usually...

STEWART: It's not good for you to know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COREY: Fun fact for the day.

WOLFF: So many of our listeners, when they hear these sorts of stories, they want to get involved. So if you want to be involved in this prank, do they need to go somewhere and register or can they just show up in their underpants?

Mr. COREY: Well, they're going to have to know the information. And it all can be found on ImprovEverywhere.com. We also have a message board. And what's exciting about this new no pants is that we're taking it international.

WOLFF: Oh, how exciting.

Mr. COREY: Yes. So we've got such a great outpouring of people coming in, saying, how can I participate in my city? I don't live in New York. I love what you're doing. And so this is a perfect idea. We're doing a no pants across the globe on Saturday. Everyone's going to at Saturday. We've got 10 cities in three different countries involved. Can I read these real quick?

STEWART: Sure.

WOLFF: I wish you would.

Mr. COREY: Okay. New York, obviously; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; Chicago; Baltimore; Salt Lake City; and Toronto, Canada and our furthest friends away, Adelaide, Australia.

STEWART: They're going to put their knickers on.

Mr. COREY: Yeah. Yeah.

WOLFF: Sort of like the...

STEWART: Down to the knickers.

WOLFF: Sort of like the millennium celebration.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. COREY: So anyone who wants to participate, please come to ImprovEverywhere.com. We have a message board. If you didn't hear your city being named, we're looking for people to host it in their own city. You don't have to have a subway system. It could be on a bus or any sort of mass transit - light rail, trolley. That has happened in San Francisco.

WOLFF: And it might or might not be legal in your city.

Mr. COREY: It's always legal. You know, you can have underpants that are more unrevealing than more revealing sorts.

WOLFF: And if you get picked up…

STEWART: Join at your own risk.

WOLFF: Yeah, right. If you get picked up, tell him Alan Corey said it's legal.

STEWART: Alan Corey, veteran Improv Everywhere agent, thanks for coming. Thanks for wearing pants.

Mr. COREY: Hey, thanks for having me.

WOLFF: Good luck with it.

Mr. COREY: Hope to see you guys there. Are you joining me?

STEWART: That's it with THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

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