TED.org Presentation Response

The TED talk that I chose to watch is called “Charlie Todd: The Shared Experience of Absurdity”.


Charlie Todd is the creator of Improv Everywhere, a group that stages public scenes like flash mobs, a no-pants subway ride, and ghostbusters running through the New York Public Library. I’ve been a fan of Improv Everywhere for the past 4 years, so I chose to watch this TEDTalk to obtain some information on how this group began. Todd starts off his presentation introducing the first no-pants subway ride. As he starts playing the footage taken by a hidden camera, he talks over the silent video giving comments and describing what was happening. Only after the video is over, he talks about the objective of Improv Everywhere, which is to cause scenes in public places which are positive experiences.

He introduces the second project, “Look Up More”, by talking about how he saw a girl dancing in the window of a very large department store across from Madison Square Garden. Then he proceeded to show an Improv Everywhere video in the same location, which featured a person standing in front of each window, doing jumping jacks, dancing, and holding signs saying “Look Up More”.

After that, he talks about an email suggestion he received from a high schooler, saying that he should get everyone to put on blue polo shirts, khaki pants, and to stand around a Best Buy. Charlie Todd thought this was a great idea ended up doing just that. He then shows the audience hidden camera footage taken in a Best Buy.

The last project he mentions happens on the subway in New York. Todd wanted to stage a project which would made commuters smile on a very cold winter morning. He then shows a mass of people going up the escalator, and actors standing on the steps next to the escalator. As the crowd moves upwards, they pass actors holding signs: “Rob wants”, “To give you”, “A high five”, “Get ready”, and the last sign was held above an actor’s head, saying “Rob” and a downwards arrow. In the footage you can see the commuters’ puzzlement, then smiles and chuckles as they pass each sign and realize what is going on.

He then goes on to give the audience a glimpse of other projects they’ve done by showing photographs instead of film footage. He ends his presentation by mentioning how important it is to play, whether you are a child or an adult. The audience is left with the message that there is no right or wrong way to play, even if you’re an adult.

Charlie Todd’s presentation strategy differs from a traditional power point presentation because he always has something playing as he is talking, whether they are pictures or film footage. He also talks over the footage and explains what is going on in each one. He also tells the audience his inspiration behind each project. What I’d like to adapt from this TEDTalk into my own project is constantly having something play behind me as I am talking- this engages the audience and keeps them on their toes for what is going to come up next. I would also like to introduce my video of Candy Chang by telling my audience why she created her first wall. As I am introducing her Before I Die wall, I will have pictures of other walls around the world playing behind me. As Charlie Todd does, I will make sure to keep the tempo fast paced and fun.


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