The Invisible Dogs Act by Improveverywhere
December 31, 2009
Improv Everywhere causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents. The group is based in New York City.
I loved the idea. Can’t imagine how much fun they had!
“For our latest mission, over 2,000 people walked “invisible dogs” down the streets of Brooklyn on a Sunday afternoon. The leashes were on loan from the current owner of 51 Bergen Street, the factory space where the invisible dog toy was invented in the 1970s. Participants of all ages spread out from Red Hook to Brooklyn Heights, very seriously walking their very silly dogs.
About a month ago I got an email from Keith Schweitzer from No Longer Empty. The group transforms vacant spaces into public art exhibitions and had an exhibition coming up in an abandoned factory in Brooklyn. He told me there were over 2,000 invisible dog leashes collecting dust on a shelf and wondered if I would like to put them to use. Yes, please.
The factory space served as our meeting point. It’s an incredibly cool spot, and it was fun knowing that the leashes we would be using were created right there in the 1970s. The building was recently bought by a French artist, who is converting it into an art space. It’s tough to say exactly how many participants showed up. We had over 3,000 RSVPs, and the crowd was so large that we filled up the giant warehouse and then had an enormous line of people waiting to get in winding around the block. I think it’s safe to say more than 2,000 showed up. Thankfully, we had enough leashes for everyone.
All of the participants showed up having no idea what they would be doing. I gave a quick talk explaining the history of the building and what the mission would entail, and then we passed out the leashes. Everyone was just told to spread out and go on a walk for an hour or so, behaving as if they were walking an actual dog.”
“The best reactions came from those who played along and Yes Anded us. Lots of people really got into it and stopped to join the fun. “Oh what breed is he?” “Can I pet him?” “He’s so cute!”
“There were lots of kids on the streets, and it was fun to see their reactions. Several parents played along, and some kids were a little confused when their mom or dad claimed to see the dog as well.”
“The most fun part of the mission was running into real dogs. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever confused animals during an Improv Everywhere mission. I loved seeing their reactions.”
“Some establishments did all they could to attract the dogs and their owners into spending their money.”
“Picking up invisible poop. Of course, dog ownership is not all fun and games.”
“Going in two directions.”
“Agent Lathan was a dog walker.”
“After a couple of hours, agents started slowly returning to the meeting point to turn in their leashes. Many were sad to tell their invisible dogs goodbye. It was really fun to do a mission that was so spread out, both in time and in space. It felt like we really blanketed the whole neighborhood with our silliness.”