Third annual pantsless subway ride takes place this Sunday
About 100 people will descend on the Market-Frankford line Sunday afternoon, bundled in winter gear, but missing one thing — pants.
It’s local comedy group Urban Playground’s third annual No Pants Subway Ride, a title that explains the premise. Inspired by New York City’s Improv Everywhere, which started the event 11 years ago, the concept is part comedy, part performance.
“You can totally see the hilarity in the situation, but it definitely has some performance art in it because everyone plays their own little part,” said this year’s coordinator Emily Prohorchuck, taking the reins from founder Ari Melman. “It’s nice to show people can band together for good things, not just destructive things.”
Participants are split into groups and e-mailed a catchphrase that serves as cue for them to strip. “It’s so funny to see peoples’ reactions,” Prohorchuck said, recounting a story from last year in which she asked an older woman what stop they were approaching. When the woman inquired if she needed to exit, Prohorchuck replied with the catchphrase, “No, it’s just hot in here.”
Nearly an entire car of poker-faced riders nonchalantly dropped trou, causing the woman to turn beet red and run from the train in horror.
Aside from its humor, participants in the event, now held in 50-plus cities across the world, cite many reasons for riding pantsless — from the unity forged to a good time.
“It’s fun for people to get together with their friends and do this crazy thing, rather than just going out to a movie or to a bar,” said Improv Everywhere Producer Matt Adams.
Despite its seemingly scandalous nature, riding the subway in skivvies is legal. There have been no documented legal issues since 2006, when a New York City officer “freaked out” and arrested several people, Adams said.
The cases were thrown out in court and the group was left with another funny story — they were arrested by Officer Panton.
Participants have a police escort this year, but the jury’s out on the “ick” factor. “That’s why I didn’t sit down on the seats,” Prohorchuck said. “It’s relatively safe — I don’t know about sanitary.”