On Friday night, October the 24th, 2008 about 20 of us convened at 9:00PM on the common for a fun little experiment. Dressed for a classy night on the town we made our way to Felt; a 3 story martini bar/pool hall/nightclub in central Boston.
First, improverats Rachel and Cara went in to scout out for our "leading man". They were to find a nice, single guy at the bar and sit on either side of him and strike up a conversation. Once they had their man they were to txt our group which was waiting outside.
"Come in now," Rachel txt'd us, so in we went to inconspicuously take notice of the man they were sitting with, then dispersed into the crowd. Over the course of 2 hours all twenty of us would have contact with Chris- or as we had previously decided to call him, "David Mansfield". We had pulled the name out of thin air only moments before entering the bar and agreed he had a part on daytime soap, Passions on NBC.
From the moment we arrived a number of us dispersed through the three floors, spreading the word to as many people as we could that there was a celebrity at the bar. Some of us chatted with the waitstaff and bartenders about the show, Passions and how we couldn't believe one of the stars was at the bar tonight. One of the bartenders who is a Passions fan explained to improveratti, Zahra that she must have missed that episode, but she was excited nevertheless.
As we spread the word a couple people mentioned they had heard of David Mansfield but didn't watch Passions. So far our plan was working; most people wouldn't be familiar enough with a daytime soap to call us out on it and the name sounded prestigious enough that it could easily be a celebrity.
It started innocently enough with a couple of our plants asking, "hey, don't I know you from somewhere?", but it quickly escalated from that to "Oh my God! You're that David Mansfield guy from Passions!"
Sipping his Long Island Iced Tea, David was very nice about the mix-up; explaining sometimes people have said he looks like Joey Fatone but never this David Mansfield guy. For the first ten people or so he laughed it off, pointing out other people had made the same mistake.
"Don't worry, we'll keep it on the hush" we told him. Then the drinks started to arrive... We anonymously sent a few drinks over the course of the hour- each a Long Island Iced Tea from "a fan at the bar". BSOS performer, Jonaton talked up one of the bartenders into thinking "David" was a real celebrity and she sent him a drink on the house. Then he and his Korean friend Soohyun approached him saying they love his show and that Soohyun is a big fan of Passions and follows it in South Korea where he is a huge hit.
Soon after (no doubt feeling pretty good at this point and seeing the ridiculousness of the entire thing) he finally decided to play the part we had handed him. He was now truly David Mansfield. Now he was making out his autograph and posing for photographs- and it caught on a bit too. Even after we had stopped other patrons not directly involved approached him about his celebrity status as well!
Improverat Sarah had this to recollect:
~~~ I gotta be honest, I wasn't sure at first if it would work. "David Mansfield" didn't seem very receptive from our far-away point of view, and the scheme started slowly. But within an hour, our team had convinced the people at several of our neighboring tables that "David" was a soap opera star. One table with three middle aged women said, "oh, is David Mansfield the guy who plays Ethan? I love him!" When we asked the woman at coat check if the guy at the bar was a soap opera actor, she said, "oh yeah, David Mansfield! I've never heard of him, but I guess he's on Passions or something. I'm going to Google him when I get home." We asked our waitress to find out if the guy at the bar was really David Mansfield. She said she couldn't tell for sure because they didn't have his credit card for a bar tab, but she was pretty certain it was him because she saw someone getting his autograph.
By the time my friend and I sat next to "David" at the bar, he was completely in character. I said, "are you that guy...?" and he responded (without my prompting), "yeah, I'm David Mansfield." He gave us a brief account of his early acting career, telling us that his first job was in a commercial for a local "Chuck E Cheese" competitor. His first real film role, he said, was as a child abduction victim on an after-school special. When I asked him if he worked with the famous actress Faye Reynolds (a name I completely pulled out of my ass) on "Passions", he nodded his head in affirmation and played along when I mentioned that she was a notorious diva. David signed an autograph for us--"Cheers Sarah and Sarra, from David Mansfield"--and patiently let us take our picture with him. Right before we left, we stopped by the bar to say goodbye to David, and he was still living it up as his alter ego. ~~~
"David" was a great sport and he and us both had fun playing pretend celebrity. Being a celebrity is a lot of work, and after so many signatures he switched from signing "David Mansfield" to just "DM", as shown in the signature below (made out to one performer's fictitious sister, Sarah Smith):