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Improv Everywhere Pranks TED With ‘Spinning Beach Ball of Death’

Spinning beach ball of death
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Mac users used to live in fear of the “Spinning Beach Ball of Death,” the twirling rainbow-colored circle that popped up onscreen when an application was not responding properly. (Yup, sometimes even devices from the mind of Steve Jobs don’t work.)

The pranksters at Improv Everywhere had a little fun with this modern-day anxiety at TED’s annual conference last week in Long Beach, CA.

Improv actor Eugene Cordero was introduced to the crowd as Colin Robertson a “futurist whose start-up has discovered how crowdsourcing solar panel technology innovations can lead us to a new paradigm for health care reform.” While that might sound like something that would be discussed at a TED conference, it was actually just a bunch of made-up nonsense to set up an elaborate prank.

Soon after “Robertson” began talking, the dreaded Spinning Wheel Of Death appeared on the presentation screen. He tried to get the tech guy to skip to the next slide, but to no avail. In fact, that just triggered a barrage of error messages and Mac sounds.

Then those sounds became a song. And some of the people in the audience started spinning rainbow-colored umbrellas. Soon enough, there were rainbow-wigged performers on stage shooting rainbow streamers into the crowd. The whole scene was like a Polyphonic Spree concert, but only with a lot more rainbows. That’s when it was clear that Improv Everywhere was up to their usual antics.

What do you think of Improv Everywhere’s latest prank? Does it live up to their past efforts?

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