Improv Everywhere, as usual, made good use of the resources they happened to have at hand and carried out the kind of prank that you would actually be disappointed to see wasn’t the real deal.
I’ve seen some elaborate begging in my day. I was raised in a desparately harsh area, certain parts of Manchester before all the gentrification, where there was a primary school next to a brewery next to a methadone clinic next to a police station. No lie.
While elaborate, and maybe even legitimate, I still wasn’t convinced by the begging attempts of these look-a-like-each-others, even as an 8 year old kicking around needle bricks in the park. I guess they just weren’t wowing me enough. But for your benefit and to get an idea of the struggles of those who come real, here are a couple of begging gambits I’ve personally experienced:
[Several miles, like, driving distance, from the nearest train station] I missed me train and I just need enough to pay the admin fee so I can get the next one.
My dad has had a heart attack just around the corner, no the other corner, no the other corner…look I just need a few quid to buy a jerry can so that I can buy petrol for the car and drive him to the hospikul.
I’m a campaign manager for the Prime Minister but I’ve misplaced my phone and wallet and I really need to call him so that I can tell him that he’s still very disproportionately rich.
Okay so that last one is a lie but the others are entirely legit.
More than anything I wanted to take the opportunity to point out that a bit of improv would have made their gambits go down a lot better. Nobody likes to feel sad or guilty or uncomfortable. And seeing the reality of those less fortunate than us makes us sad and guilty and uncomfortable. And being sad and guilty and uncomfortable is unacceptable in the world we live in.
So the next time you’re on Oxford Road in Manchester and the 38th homeless person asks you for change in a way that lacks lustre, teach them the pitfalls of starting a scene with a question, and the joys of Yes, And, and the importance of having a secret motive that drives your character. Soon they would be rich in ways they’d have never imagined.