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Best Prank of the Year So Far

Eighty identically-dressed folks in bright blue polo shirts and khaki pants walk into a Best Buy and station themselves along the aisles. When people ask them for help, they help. When employees ask why they're dressed just like Best Buy's workers, the visitors check out their own clothes and act as if they hadn't noticed.

Eighty folks dressed as Best Buy clerks walk into a Best Buy. Comedy ensues. So do all sorts of confrontations with security guards, managers and even the cops. And so does a slew of questions about who's who and what's ok in a society in which uniforms send a message, and dressing a certain way can turn out to be an unsettling challenge.

It's all part of the best prank of the year so far, courtesy of a group called Improv Everywhere.

Check it out.

By Marc Fisher |  May 9, 2006; 1:31 PM ET
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Comments

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If this is the "best prank of the year" what was the worst? Why is disrupting someone's business a prank and not malicious mischief?

Posted by: Huh? | May 9, 2006 3:56 PM

If this is the best prank of the year, then what was the worst?

Why does disrupting someone's business qualify as a prank and not, say, malicious mischief?

Posted by: Huh? | May 9, 2006 3:58 PM

I don't find this very amusing. The "pranksters" needs to find something better to do with their time.

Posted by: WB | May 9, 2006 4:21 PM

I love it! Hope IE comes this way and does it in our Best Buys with the blue AND yellow shirts, to freak the employees out even more.

Serves them right for not offering better customer service.

Posted by: veejay | May 9, 2006 4:23 PM

Veejay,

What would "serve them right for not offering better customer service" would be if everyone started shopping at Circuit City and Best Buy stopped making a profit. This sort of stuff just makes a lot of work for everyone, including the police, who have to sort it all out.

Posted by: Dubyakay | May 9, 2006 4:30 PM

Who ARE you people??? I know that DC isn't exactly known for its sense of humor, but come on, this is funny! Guerilla theater!

Posted by: Not a DC drone | May 9, 2006 4:37 PM

Funny

Posted by: J | May 9, 2006 4:43 PM

Dubyakay,

You've got a point; boycotting is better than this exercise in improv humor. But I still find it funny.

I don't shop at Best Buy -- not after, on three occasions, the "customer service" staff did not help me while I was shopping (or could not help me when I asked them questions about the products I wanted to buy), but found all kinds of time to inspect my packages on my way out of the store.

Any store who can't help me -- or who can't bother to try helping me -- as a customer while I'm shopping, but inspects me like a criminal after making an honest purchase, deserves all the havoc they can get and then some.

Posted by: veejay | May 9, 2006 5:06 PM

Oh, jeez...

First of all, how were they disrupting business? It was almost entirely transparent to customers. Sounds like some customers even benefited. If anything, the store overreacted and caused their own problems in terms of disruption. It seems like the prank was very well organized and the people complied with requests to leave.

As for the third poster who thinks whether (s)he finds something amusing is the standard at which we should measure our activities should maybe take his/her own advice. Pretty arrogant comment. Fine, great, you don't find it amusing but there are less snarky ways to convey it. What would you have them do, organize their sock drawer?

For those of you who actually *have* a sense of humor, check out the Amazing Hypnotist prank they also did, where they pretended to hypnotize a bunch of people and then the hypnotist bolted, leaving a bunch of people "hypnotized." The crowd's reaction is hilarious. I mean, what would you do if a you thought a guy was stuck being hypnotized as a giant ostrich? Or the guy who had to be talked down from a three foot ledge...

Posted by: ActuallyHip | May 9, 2006 7:28 PM

Prankers. Remember flash mobs. People are strange when you're a stranger, people are strange.
Very interesting article on Harpers about flash mob dynamics, true confessions so to speak, from the inventor of the flash mob. I found it quite unsettling for some reason. Here is the link: http://harpers.org/MyCrowd_01.html

Posted by: Richard Katz | May 9, 2006 7:33 PM

I'll second the comments about Best Buy service. It sucks. Their employees are usually interested in just making you go away so they can resume the conversations with each other about how techie cool their latest purchase is.

Best Buy didn't used to be this way. As they've gotten bigger, their customer service has started to be something of a joke. Sadly, a lot of people are trapped in a technological world we don't all fully understand. Best Buy holds themselves out as experts on these items. Yet they do very little to actually provide help or advice in the purchasing or repair experience.

Posted by: Hillman | May 9, 2006 7:38 PM

Hey Marc--you'll be happy to know that one or two Nass alums are a part of IE

Posted by: Justin | May 9, 2006 7:53 PM

ActuallyHip, you must either work for company that does not work for profit or you don't have any work ethics and are just there for a paycheck. What's funny about a mass of people entering a business and posing to be employees with little regard for the company's business and safety plans?

As for your "organize the sock drawer" comment, you are very obviously out-of-touch with the real world. There are many volunteer opportunities relating to humanitarian efforts and many other volunteer opportunities.

Posted by: WB | May 10, 2006 9:23 AM

Ha! That's funny.

Posted by: h3 | May 10, 2006 10:41 AM

Very funny! If they did this in DC, they should pose as tour guides with the umbrellas, or lost Hill interns.

Posted by: ML | May 10, 2006 11:11 AM

best buy deserves worse

Posted by: not_a_fan | May 10, 2006 12:45 PM

I liked IE's No Pants and Anton Chekov gags, but I don't find this funny. Not because it disrupted business or anything, but because, honestly, dressing up like employees at a store and then acting like employees at a store is, well, dull. What would you do if you saw some people walking around the Capitol at noon in some suits, talking politics? Hahaha, best prank ever? No, not so much. Some of their other gags are funnier.

Now, if they were no-pants Best Buy employees, THAT would have been kind of funny . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2006 1:52 PM

OK...I agree 80 people is probably alot. However, customers were helped. This means they probably bought something. I have been to Best Buy. They are failing dismally on customer service. This means I rarely shop there.

So if customers are being helped and buying stuff then I would assume that the store made their sales goal that day.

That should say something to the management who cut staff hours rather than find other means to make sales goals.

Posted by: BlogBunny | May 10, 2006 3:49 PM

Guys--it was a joke. Don't be so uptight. You're making me happy I moved away.

Posted by: J | May 10, 2006 4:29 PM

To J,

We're happy you moved, too. I can't remember ever having heard anyone say "Damn, I sure miss J. When's he coming back for a visit?" You had such a twisted sense of humor. You even thought this was a joke. Wow.

Posted by: Huh? | May 10, 2006 5:28 PM

Oh man, you nailed me! What a zinger! See you at the next Capitol Steps revue!

Posted by: J | May 11, 2006 8:54 AM

Look, the gag itself...pretty dull BUT Best Buy overreacts, calls the police, reports their movements as they leave, now THAT was funny.

Seriously, lighten up, no one was hurt. It only got like this because unlike the regular employees (who thought it was funny), the managers and security took themselves WAY too seriously.

Posted by: Zach | May 11, 2006 12:52 PM

I think the prank was funny BUT I can see how this could become a real problem.

Posted by: rlj | May 12, 2006 3:41 PM

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