As we continue to wade through a cold spell in a cold month, the timing seems about right for the annual No Pants Subway Ride.
Started by the group Improv Everywhere in New York in 2002, the event has grown in popularity and spawned copycat events throughout the world, including Montreal. It involves people going into the subway system, taking off their pants, and then getting onto trains as if everything’s normal. The fun is in seeing people’s reactions (which requires staying in character throughout the event).
The Montreal event has about 50 people saying they’re going as I write this. Considering the Facebook ratio of “Going” to “actually show up”, expect a small event unless this goes a lot more viral between now and then.
One of the tricks with this event is that it can easily be ruined by professional or unprofessional journalists. It’s hard to pretend that everything’s normal when you have a cameraman lugging a giant HD camera on a tripod. Improv Everywhere has since set up official guidelines for journalists that basically say don’t take video of the event, use our B-roll from last year instead. (The group shoots the event using hidden cameras.)
On Aug. 15, one of Montreal’s oldest broadcaster and one of its newest took to the field at Côte des Neiges’s Nelson Mandela Park to play a friendly game of softball. On Tuesday, the fun continues as CBC takes on Global Montreal on the same field.
To get you in the spirit, here’s what happened last month between CBC and City.
The No Pants Subway Ride, an annual event organized by New-York-based Improv Everywhere but which has since expanded around the world, came to Montreal again last weekend, though it received fairly little media attention (which is probably for the best, at least until after the fact).
In this slickly-produced video shot by Étienne Marcoux and edited by Vincent Laurin, dozens of participants take the metro with no pants on in the middle of January and act as if that’s perfectly normal, prompting odd expressions from hapless bystanders.
Depending on how many people show up, it could be pretty awesome: A Montreal edition of Improv Everywhere’s MP3 Experiment is set for Wednesday at 5:17pm.
Instructions are here and there’s a Facebook page. No RSVP required, just show up wearing red, yellow, blue or green and carrying an uninflated red or green balloon to a retail store on Ste. Catherine St. between St. Alexandre and St. Laurent.
Improv Everywhere’s MP3 experiments are explained here, but in short they involve a large group of people downloading an MP3 audio file, then playing it on headphones at exactly the same time. To the outside world, it just looks like a bunch of people wearing headphones, but who suddenly all start doing the same random things together.
I like scavenger hunts. I’ve participated in one or two, and provided the items on the list don’t involve doing anything illegal, too embarrassing or too impossible (University of Chicago, I’m looking at you), I look forward to participating in future ones.
It’s one of those things I wanted to do for so long. I’ve lived in this city my entire life, watched countless performances by stand-up comics (in both languages) on the Just for Laughs stage at Théâtre Saint-Denis, and wanted to go myself. But for various reasons (mainly a lack of availability combined with a fear of the price tag), I never saw one of its famous galas in person. I’ve been to outdoor events (much of which isn’t exactly funny, the giant screen showing Gags reruns notwithstanding), but never bought a ticket to watch an indoor show.
Last Saturday, I finally did. It was the only night I was really free to see anything. I went down to Place des Arts and decided I would plan my night based on what cheap last-minute tickets were available. I was actually a bit surprised when I found out that a 7pm show on a Saturday featuring Craig Ferguson still had seats available (singles, for the most part, mind you) that they were willing to give me for a significant last-minute discount. I picked it up, paying less than $40 in cash.
After a successful event last year, the group Les Évenements T’es po game is organizing a second water gun fight around the fountain outside Montreal city hall this Saturday at 2 p.m.
The Facebook page shows more than 200 set to attend, though experience has shown that number to be as much as 10 times the eventual actual turnout. Last year about 100 said they would attend, and about 50 did, so that bodes well for this year.
The weather forecast for Saturday shows sunny, low chance of precipitation and a high of around 30 degrees. Also a good sign.
The event isn’t organized in any official way with the city, and participants are reminded to follow rules of common sense – particularly not to target people who are not participating in the fight.
The Facebook event for the Montreal pillow fight has an astonishing 800 planning to attend, plus 400 maybes. Even applying the usual 10:1 ratio of those who say they’ll come to a Facebook event and those who actually show up, it’s still quite a large number of people.
The second annual Geekfest is this weekend at Au Coeur des Sciences de l’UQAM.
I won’t be able to make it there myself because I’m working this weekend (particularly during all the good stuff like the video game orchestra show), but you should go and pay the few bucks to get in, because you’ll see things like this:
Alex and Kristin check their lists during the first scavenger hunt in 2008
It’s been a while since the last one, but a third Montreal Underground City scavenger hunt is being planned for next Saturday afternoon.
The idea is pretty simple: A scavenger hunt (relatively tame – no stealing stuff or doing anything illegal) whose items can all be found within the confines of Montreal’s underground city. Players are forbidden from leaving the underground city or taking the metro.
A huge crowd of France supporters flood St. Denis St. after World Cup semifinal win on July 5, 2006.
I love the World Cup.
After a month of the most important sporting tournament on Earth, I still think watching soccer on television is incredibly boring compared to other sports. And it shows no evidence of supplanting hockey as the No. 1 sport in this city. The game is badly officiated, mostly because its governing body doesn’t want to enter the 20th century, much less the 21st. And many of the players are overpaid whiners whose sole purpose, it sometimes seems, is to turn the most incidental contact with an opposing player into a theatrical death scene.
And I still think soccer’s offside rule is stupid.
But there’s something about the way the World Cup takes over Montreal’s fans. Because Canada isn’t nearly good enough to make it to the final tournament, there is no home team, and everyone is free to choose sides. Many go with countries of origin, or maybe the team of their favourite player, or the country they once lived in.
No matter what country wins a game, whether it’s a big player like Brazil or Germany, or a tiny speck on the globe like Uruguay or Ghana, there’s always a parade of elated fans, honking their horns and waving their flags like they just had sex with a supermodel and realized they won the lottery.
It hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the anglophone community (I guess that’s my fault?), but geeks from around town are converging this weekend for LAN parties, code fests, role-playing games and all sorts of other stuff at the Montreal Geek Festival.
On Wednesday, two days before Christmas (and as I was rushing to get the last of my shopping done before a shift at work), I passed by this trio of happiness-peddlers at the McGill metro station, advertising free hugs for everyone who passed by.
Though their signs were in English only (one can only imagine what the OQLF would have done), the oral pitches were bilingual. In fact, they didn’t even speak English all that well. Or French. But all they needed was “Free hugs! Câlins gratuits!” and some outstretched arms to get their message across.