Improv AZ’s fourth annual pantless prank surprises light rail riders

Photos by Evie Carpenter, Cydney McFarland and Madeline Pado

“I don’t think it’s a marathon. It might be a coming out party or something,” said Marvin Johnson, a light rail commuter sitting next to a row of pantless riders.

About 250 people participated Sunday in Phoenix’s local version of the international No Pants Subway Ride, crowding onto the light rail clad in a wide array of outfits with one common theme — no pants.

This included an elderly woman in turquoise “granny panties” and an old man who wore a flannel shirt and white tube socks and walked with a cane.

Riders assumed everyday roles as if it was a normal commute – magazines open, iPods plugged in and briefcases in hand. But, pants were off.

“There are a lot of people in Arizona and Phoenix who want to go outside and do something weird and crazy,” said Jeff Moriarty, a founder of Improv AZ and four-year No Pants Light Rail veteran. “Weird stuff happens in San Francisco, it doesn’t happen in Phoenix.”

Improv AZ is an offshoot of the New York based Improv Everywhere that has hosted other pranks around the country, including a Where’s Waldo flash mob.

This year’s breeches-baring crowd rode the light rail and converged at the Mill Avenue and Third Street stop. After the trek, some went on with their day while others headed to Robbie Fox’s, a Tempe Irish-themed bar, for drinks and more activities, still without pants.

Two guys stood at the bar discussing the glory of a nice breeze while hiking trouserless.

Improv Everywhere is dedicated to expertly crafted, large scale pranks. They reported 60 cities would be participating in the No Pants Subway Ride that has been an annual event since 2002 in New York.

Irony seemed to be the only underlying motivation for the movement. “Doing the unexpected” was how Moriarty put it.

Perhaps caught up in the spontaneity, one bystander threw his hands up and screamed, “Let’s get nude!”

Contact the reporter at domenico.nicosia@asu.edu