The annual No Pants Subway Ride took place in 20 major cities across the globe on Sunday January 12, including New York, Berlin and Tokyo.
The annual event was created in 2002 by Improv Everywhere, a New York City-based comedy collective that stages “unexpected performances in public places.” Subways riders are encouraged to ride the subway wearing everything but pants.
This year, the No Pants Subway Ride was held in Berlin, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Dallas, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Melbourne, Montreal, New York, Phoenix, Porto, San Francisco, Seattle, Saint Petersburg, Tokyo, Toronto and Washington D.C.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The No Pants Subway Ride Began in New York City in 2002
The annual event was created in 2002 by Improv Everywhere, a New York City-based comedy collective that “stages unexpected performances in public places.” The first ride consisted of just seven people. It has since grown into a global phenomenon.
Over the past 15 years, Improv Everywhere has staged more than 150 projects involving tens of thousands of undercover performers, according to its website. Their motto is “We Cause Scenes” and they refer to their pranks as “missions.”
No Pants Subway Ride is held every January. The exact date is announced by Improv Everywhere in December.
2. The Point of the No Pants Subway Ride Is To Create ‘Unexpected Performances in Public Places’
“The idea behind No Pants is simple: Random passengers board a subway car at separate stops in the middle of winter without pants. The participants behave as if they do not know each other, and they all wear winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. The only unusual thing is their lack of pants,” Improv Everywhere explained on its website.
3. The No Pants Subway Ride Is Happening in 20 Major Cities Across the World in 2020, Including Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo
The No Pants Subway Ride took place in 20 cities this year. They include Berlin, Boston, Calgary, Chicago, Dallas, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Melbourne, Montreal, New York, Phoenix, Porto, San Francisco, Seattle, Saint Petersburg, Tokyo, Toronto and Washington D.C.
4. The No Pants Subway Ride Has Resulted in Arrests in Moscow and New York
Arrests were made in New York City during the 2006 No Pants Subway Ride.
“During last year’s No Pants ride, a police officer stopped a train at 59th Street, ordered all the passengers off, and handcuffed eight of the pranksters on the platform. A judge later threw out the disorderly conduct charges, noting that it’s not illegal to wear underwear in public,” WNYC reported in 2007.
In Moscow, law enforcement officials considered arresting participants of its No Pants Subway Ride. Riding without pants in public was punishable by up to 15 days in jail or a fine. It appears that there were no convictions in the Russian capital that year, according to Russia Beyond.
5. Charlie Todd Founded Improv Everywhere in August 2001 and Started No Pants Subway Ride in 2002
Charlie Todd founded Improv Everywhere in August 2001, just before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
“The projects he’s directed for Improv Everywhere have received half a billion lifetime views on YouTube. More than 100 individual videos have view counts over a million, having been shared around the world and featured in mainstream media outlets like the Today show, Good Morning America, and The New York Times,” according to Improv Everywhere’s website.
Charlie is a long-time performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City. He is the author of Causing a Scene, a book about Improv Everywhere published by HarperCollins. He is also the subject of the documentary We Cause Scenes. Charlie lives in Manhattan with his wife Cody Lindquist and their two sons.