The sound of a single car alarm can make even the most levelheaded person itch with anger and annoyance. So imagine what: what could 100 car alarms do? The diabolical genius who decided to find out is Charlie Todd, founder of the shameless pranksters Improv Everywhere, who decided to set off a chorus of car alarms to test the frustration of New Yorkers.
Over the course of their 11-year history, Improv Everywhere have pulled some spectacularly annoying pranks: from their “No Pants Subway Ride” each January to the “Tourist Lane” they spraypainted on a busy stretch of New York sidewalk to the a “Cell Phone Symphony” conducted in a crowded bookstore. With their latest prank, the group combined the outdoorsy atmosphere of the former with the ear-piercing shrieks of the latter to create the “Car Alarm Symphony.”
It was a tricky stunt to pull off in one of the least car-friendly cities in the nation, but that’s what Staten Island is for. The comparatively suburbanized borough is a parking-lot haven and the perfect place to cause a scene. Todd scoped out a wide swath of asphalt between a Kohl’s and a Lowe’s and, via his ever-growing mailing list, recruited drivers willing to drive to Staten Island — and whose cars had keyless entry systems.
Surprisingly, 100 drivers showed up. With their cars parked in the lot and the drivers hidden behind a conrete wall, Todd conducted his car alarm musicians in an ear-grating cacophony of honks, chirps, beeps and buzzes. (The conducting was, understandably, just for show – the drivers just pressed the “panic” buttons on their remotes simultaneously.) Most shoppers were baffled, some were distraught, and others simply smiled, clearly getting the gag. Surprisingly, none bolted for cover or seemed terrified that the automotive apocalypse was impending, at least none of the shoppers featured in Improv Everywhere’s highlight reel.
At least the pranksters did this one with pants on.