Viral SEPTA Panhandling Video Was Scripted. Or Was It? [UPDATED]


Last week, we brought you this awesome College Humor video, shot aboard a SEPTA train:

We’re admittedly a little less enamored of it after Daniel Rubin’s column in the Inquirer today. Turns out almost everybody was in on the prank—except you the viewer, of course:

It’s an act – all scripted.

SEPTA confirmed my hunch. Spokeswoman Heather Redfern says College Humor, an entertainment website that creates its own video content, rented the Broad-Ridge Spur on June 23, a Sunday, when the line was not operating.

Three times, its operatives shot the scene as the car moved from Eighth and Market to Chinatown, where the “panhandler” got on, and then to Fairmount, where he collected his tributes of high fives and chest bumps.

Those Philly people are actors – at least 10 or so were. The others were people paid to show up and take a survey about transportation, and found themselves being taped as they watched a performance written by Kevin Corrigan and acted out by “panhandler” Carl Foreman Jr., a College Humor spokeswoman said.

It’s a good video, but some of the pleasure that comes from watching the people being “pranked” is gone now. We’re not watching them react; we’re watching them simulate a reaction. That knowledge makes the whole thing a little bit less fun, unfortunately.

[Update: 1:32 pm Wednesday] Or not. See the comment below.

Ricky from CollegeHumor here. This is completely innacurate. The only people on the subway car who knew what was about to happen were the actor playing the panhandler and the hidden camera people. The reactions you see are real.

Now we’re just confused. And sad.