Aspen Stories: Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere

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Charlie Todd is the creator of Improv Everywhere, a group which performs astonishing, magical, and typically victimless street pranks. They've staged a faux U2 concert on a rooftop, ridden the subway without pants (more and more pantsless riders board a car, until eventually an IE member strolls through, selling pants), and offered boat tours of public fountains. Charlie was invited to Aspen to talk about IE, and here, we've invited him to talk about Aspen.

Had you been before?

Nope. This was my first trip to Colorado.

What did you expect it to be like?

Very cold and intimidating.

What surprised you about it when you got there?

It was much warmer than I had imagined. It was colder in NY the week before the festival. The altitude warnings are for real. I felt dizzy for a couple of days and held off on getting drunk until Thursday (I arrived on Monday). I delighted to discover how walkable the town is and how the whole festival was easy to manage.

What was the audience like for your shows?

I had two shows, both at the "Belly Up" venue. It's a rock club, but because it's in Aspen it's a real classy joint. No stickers on the bathroom walls. I don't really know how many were in attendance at the shows, but it was very full. 200 people maybe? I found it to be a warm, responsive audience, which was great. I guess it was a mix of locals and industry types. In addition to my stage shows, I did a few pranks around town which was a total blast. I documented the whole experience on my site, complete with photos and video.

What was the best social event you attended? Why?

The Upright Citizens Brigade rented a three-story condo with College Humor and 3 Arts. There were parties there every night, but the Friday night party was the best. Dave Chapelle made a cameo for literally thirty seconds. I guess that's how long it took him to decide it wasn't his scene. Anyway, the condo was awesome-- pool table, hot tub, steam room, ridiculous fan from the 70's. Oh, and a fridge full of beer and a freezer full of liquor. Besser himself was staying there and personally welcoming everyone into the house. Anthony King (Artistic Director of UCB NY) and Alex Sidtis (UCB NY Theatre Manager) were also staying there. Alex's job for the entire week at Aspen was to plan awesome parties at the UCB house and to generally promote all of the shows with UCB people in them (four stage shows + Aziz's standup).

What was the best show you saw that wasn't your own?

I fucking love Brian Finklestein's show. I'd seen it before in NY, and I was only able to see the last ten minutes of it in Aspen (running to it after one of my shows), but he managed to make me cry in those ten minutes. Such a beautiful, sad, and very hilarious show.

What was the strangest social interaction you had while there?

There was a local guy who showed up at all of the social events with his dog. He had trained the dog to stand on his arm. No one really knew what his deal was, but everyone called him "Dog Dude". I guess he's there every year. Anyway, at the UCB party his dog was walking around the kitchen and I figured out how to get it to stand on my arm. The dude saw me doing it and just said, "Go for it, man." So I walked around the party very drunk with this dog standing on my arm.

Would you reccomend it to others?

Absolutely. As a performer it was an amazing experience. They put you up in great hotel rooms and they take care of you the whole week. Tons of free food. Free transportation. Free parties with free drinks. Free access to shows. I'm not sure if I would reccomend it to someone not performing. Unless of course you're rich. If you're rich, definitely go!

Already been debriefed: Brent Weinbach, Sherry Sirof, Ryan Stout, Anthony Jeselnik

Also: "Odd Ends" with Charlie Todd on The Sound of Young America (MP3 Link)