I chose to watch the video on Charlie Todd simply from the title, “Shared Experience of Absurdity”. It seemed intriguing enough given the subject matter; however I was very pleased to hear that this man was an improv comedy actor from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York. The Upright Citizens Brigade was a TV series from the late 90s that I absolutely loved. It was actually the show that first launched the career of Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation) I would say that the series was pivotal in the evolution on my sense of humor, so therefore I knew I chose the right video.
Charlie Todd immediately begins his presentation showing off one of his improve pranks that he was involved with in the subway of New York. The prank consisted of several improv actors boarding the subway in their underwear, as in no pants. They all boarded at different stops, until there were at least five of them. They had somebody with a hidden camera on the subway filming a woman who was essentially the star of the video since the camera captured mostly her reactions. She was clearly uncomfortable with the situation, but what made the whole prank ironic was the fact that she was reading a book entitled “RAPE”. Charlie Todd then points out what is essentially the heart of the presentation; he points out his favorite part, that the woman smiles and laughs once she notices that other people on the subway are laughing at the absurdity of the situation. He addresses the fact that she was clearly uncomfortable with the situation until she noticed that somebody else was sharing her experience.
He then moved onto his second prank, which involved over 70 people dancing in the windows above a Whole Foods. Silhouetted in the window, fellow improv actors danced in unison in the windows above a Whole Foods, which over the span of an hour attracted hundreds of viewers cheering them on.
His next prank was probably my favorite. The UCB theater gathered nearly twenty people to dress up in khakis and a blue polo shirt to enter into a local Best Buy in order to disguise themselves as Best Buy employees. He had said that most of the employees were having a good time with the prank, making jokes about having them all help with lifting heavy products to the floor. The managers however did not think it was funny and called the police. The punch line came shortly after, when Todd claimed that the police said they couldn’t do anything because there isn’t a law against people wearing khakis with blue polo shirts.
His final recorded prank showed more of an appeal to the people of New York, in order to lift their spirits on their daily routine. It was much more light-hearted than the others, not to imply the previous pranks were cruel by any means. Along the staircase adjacent to an escalator, four five people lined up with signs that made up one part of a sentence that basically claimed “Rob wants to give you a high five! Get Ready!” Of course, at the top of the escalator a man named Rob was giving a high five to everybody riding the escalator.
To end his presentation, Charlie Todd addressed the criticism he and his fellow improv actors tend to receive online. They get a lot of criticism, but that is the nature of the internet. The one comment he said bothers him is the one that claims “These people have too much time on their hands”. To which Todd made a connection to people who attend football games claiming that they have too much time on their hands. He said that he and his fellow actors simply choose to use the free time they have on lifting people’s spirits and making them laugh. He ends with the statement that there is no point to improv, other than having fun. He also claims that as children, we are not told why we have to play, we simply play, and that there is no wrong way to play.
In terms of public speaking, there isn’t too much I could criticize or comment on, considering that most of his presentation consisted of video examples. This distracted the audience away from him; therefore it would be unnecessary to comment on his presentation as a public speaker. I will say that I was very impressed with the presentation, considering the fact that I am an avid fan of the theater in which he trains at.