We Cause Scenes

We Cause Scenes documents the rise of Improv Everywhere in New York City. Basically, it’s a story about how a guy who moved to NYC with basically nothing, is out at a bar one night and they play up his resemblance to Ben Folds… People buy it… and it goes from there — creating ‘scenes’ across the city, starting with friends and eventually a bunch of people who simply want to join in.

The scenes are documented on video but don’t find a mass audience due to the lack of a “YouTube”. It starts (relatively) old school — Text descriptions, email lists and a Geocities page — and then to 4 pilot episodes for NBC, which never air. With the entrance of YouTube, those episodes find the light of day — and ‘viral’ is an understatement.

Odd side note on the NBC item: Once the videos go viral online, The Today Show (NBC) asks whether they can air the footage – which, of course, they own.

The doc takes you from the original No Pants Subway Ride to more elaborate ‘scenes’, including a favourite when they pretend they are U2 doing a building-top show across from Madison Square Gardens (where U2 was to play), complete with an asian “The Edge”.

It’s an interesting documentary, seeing how this whole thing came about (and how the changing technology also helped). My main beef is it could have been put together a lot better. Hate to say it but less interviews and more footage would make it much more entertaining. I understand that’s not the focus of of the doc necessarily, but that would have helped. There are points where it drags due to this. All that said, it really shows the joy (and sometimes the opposite) it can bring to strangers lives.

Overall, it was entertaining. If you’ve seen all the Improv Everywhere videos online, however, you may find it less so.

3/5 at HotDocs festival.

(This review originally written April 2013)

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