On October 16, 2008 around 20 guests celebrated Jake Price’s 26th birthday at Fados on 5th Street in Austin. The catch? Jake Price was made up. We chose a stranger to give our cake and presents to. Inspired by Ted's Birthday by Improv Everywhere, Flash Mob Austin got in on the "surprise a stranger with a birthday party" action.
Here are the mission details that Agent Bertman sent out to the participating agents a few days before the mission:
First off, thanks for putting up with the secrecy of the event. You may be asking yourself, who is this party for? Who is the VIP?By 9:00 most the the team had assembled at Fados. Almost everyone brought their own personally addressed birthday card and a present for Jake. We were ready to go!
Well, it just so happens that it's Jake's Birthday! The catch is that Jake doesn't know his name is Jake, and that it's his birthday. We will be throwing a birthday party for a random stranger. We will use some of our improv skills to develop a relationship with 'Jake' and give him a night he will never forget.
What will happen is Agent Bertman will identify a person in a bar and report back to our meeting spot with details. Everyone will trickle in to the hot spot bar accordingly, wish Jake a happy birthday, give him his present, and enjoy the party. Treat him as you would anyone during their birthday. Don't give him too much attention, but don't ignore him, either.
Information about Jake:
Full name: Jake Price
Age: 26 (today!)
School: Purdue University (which is in Indiana).
Works: Startup company downtown (you can't remember the name... unless you work there)
Interests: Skydiving, soccer, renaissance fairs, poker
pick a relationship with Jake. How do you know him? Maybe you were on his soccer team, or maybe you took a bunch of money from him in poker. Use that to get a conversation rolling. Do not break character, ever. You came to this event because he invited everyone through a Facebook event.
If you didn't bring a present, please bring $10, as I have purchased a bunch of $10 gift cards from Barnes and Noble. At the last event (Ted's birthday), many people bought or made birthday cards and put the gift certificates inside those. I recommend you do the same!
Meeting place: Fado's Irish pub on 4th street downtown at 8:30pm.
For publicity sake, please do not tell anyone the details of the event, unless they are participating!
Agent Bertman sent a group across the street to The Gingerman to scout out a Jake. They called back with the description, and got started. At first he seemed cool, but then five agents in, the first Jake ran away! He literally sprinted out the door, leaving his gifts and cards unopened.
We went out back and brainstormed. We couldn't simply choose another stranger at The Gingerman because people may have seen us. So we decided to find someone at Qua, down the block. That was also a bust. Qua would not let us in to the bar with a birthday cake (Everyone! Boycot Qua! Who doesn't let in a birthday cake?!), and as several agents thought the cake was the icing of the mission, we decided to go back to Fados.
That was also a bust. The target had just lost his job and was spending the evening with his best friend who was about to be deployed to Iraq. He pulled Agent Adams aside and said he thought it was cool what we were doing, but really, he just needed some one on one time with his buddy before he went overseas the next day.
Just as we were about to call it a bust and eat the birthday cake ourselves, Agent Adams took a solo lap around Fados holding the birthday cake. A young guy smiled at her and said "Cake!" Using her quick wit, she quipped, "Jake! There you are! Happy birthday. Oh, man. You're almost out of beer. I'll leave the cake here and go get you another." Ding, ding, ding! We had a winner!
Jake was in the back of Fados sitting with two other friends. Agent Adams ran to the front of Fados where the other agents had started to gather and gave them a description. "He's wearing a white button down shirt, he has brown hair, and he's with two other guys." She got Jake a new beer and headed toward the back, bringing Agent Ashley with her.
At first he was reserved. His friends (Austin and Blake, as we later learned) thought the whole thing was bewilderingly hilarious. They went with and added to almost every story the agents threw at them. Jake was more resevered, probably borderline freaked out by what was happening, but happy to be getting free drinks, cake, cookies, cards, and gifts. We sang happy birthday and he blew out the candles on his cake. He opened his cards, and although he didn't know anyone, he read each and every card and searched around the table of strangers to sincerely thank each and every giver. What a good guy!
We talked and hung out some more. We sang "He's a Jolly Good Fellow", and around 11:30 p.m., we began to trickle out. Jake, Blake, and Austin had grown attached to us, and we all circled up and did a heart felt group hug. We bagged up his gifts, cards, and left over cake, and bid adieu... until next year.
Jake's Birthday? Mission accomplished!
PHOTOS on Flickr.
AGENT REPORTS online at our Urban Prankster Network.