Most viral prank videos on YouTube involve a handful of people pranking random strangers. While that concept is hilarious and effective, the creative geniuses working behind the scenes at Improv Everywhere simply felt the need to go bigger. Using a handful of people to prank a handful of people is fine, but what if you involved hundreds of people instead?
That basically describes what Improv Everywhere has been doing on their YouTube channel for the past eight years! We featured one of their most recent pranks here on Qlty Ctrl where they used over 200 people to prank Home Depot employees & customers. After synchronizing their watches, they all shopped inside of the same Home Depot location…in slow motion.
As if that was not crazy enough, they spent the next five minutes absolutely frozen in place. The honest reactions from the customers and employees showed that they were shocked, surprised and even a little scared at time during this 10-minute prank! Crazy? Chaotic? True. But also very clever and creative as well. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
We got a chance to interview the man behind the madness, Mr. Charlie Todd, recently to pick his brain and find out more about Improv Everywhere, a creative team that has been able to attract over 1.68 million subscribers and over 359 million views since joining YouTube in April of 2006.
Here’s some of the points that he shared with us.
QC: How much time is put into each concept and video long before the camera starts recording?
Charlie Todd: It depends on the situation, but I’d say we usually work on projects for about two weeks before we shoot.
QC: Have you ever considered using this concept to create a network television series?
Charlie Todd: Yes, I made a pilot of NBC in 2007. I may give it another shot one day, but I’m pretty happy creating my videos on my own terms. There is a feature-length documentary out (We Cause Scenes) that tells the story of the early days of Improv Everywhere, our NBC pilot and how we’ve grown since.
QC: What is the next step for Improv Everywhere?
Charlie Todd: I’ve been doing this for 13 years now (8 on YouTube) and I’m always working to figure out new ideas to keep things exciting for me and our audience. Hopefully, the FCC doesn’t mess up the Internet by caving to the cable companies & independent creators like myself will continue to thrive on our own terms.
QC: In your opinion, what is the key to success when it comes to video and content marketing online?
Charlie Todd: I think the key is to make good content that people want to watch and (more importantly) want to tell their friends about. Good content speaks for itself.
QC: What advice would you give to the people that want to follow in your footsteps using YouTube to work their way to viral stardom?
Charlie Todd: I think if your goal is viral stardom from the start, it’s probably not the best way to approach it. Create exactly what you want to create and do it because you love it. Don’t worry about the marketing of it or finding an audience at first. Make what you want to make. That authenticity will shine through. If I had started Improv Everywhere with a “business model” or any type of strategy, I don’t think I would have lasted very long. I wasn’t doing it to make money. In fact, it never even occurred to me. You gotta do it because you love it. The more you create, the better you’ll get and eventually an audience will find you.
Words of wisdom from a creative genius and a true master of using organized chaos to create hilarious videos that appeal to millions of people!
Thank you again, Charlie Todd and Improv Everywhere, for keeping the world entertained with your work. You have proven to all of us that, even if things seem chaotic, you can always find something to put a smile on your face!