But for me, it wasn’t until their most recent mission, the Surprise Wedding Reception, that Improv Everywhere demonstrated the kind of playfulness that the award was created for. Take a look at one of their most celebrated, and closely related events, called “The Best Game Ever.” This, too, was a surprise, and it most definitely led to the delight of everyone involved, players and performers. But unlike The Best Game Ever, the couple who served as the focus of the Surprise Wedding Reception were not so much surprised as they were invited to play. Though the host wasn’t above the minor subterfuge of passing himself as a representative of the Mayor’s Office, and describing the event as a “free wedding reception,” this enlightened willingness to include everyone, the receivers as well as the givers of the performance, led to something that seemed to me much more inclusive, and, because of that, much more of an accomplishment for all playkind.
If you’ve been watching any of the many well-documented, pervasive play antics of Improv Everywhere, you’ll understand why they are being presented with the coveted title of Defender of the Playful. You may even, given such spectacular displays of in-your-face playfulness as in the Frozen Grand Central and Food Court Musical events, wonder why it took us so long to acknowledge their contribution to playfulness anywhere. Clearly, they are breaking boundaries, bringing play where no play has dared to go. And their MP3 Experiments are as least as fun and surprising and play-engendering for the participants as they are enticingly puzzling for their unsuspecting audiences.