I was reminded of this story by a funny post of Dr. Frank's:
On my only trip to Paris, five years ago, my wife and I were in a full Metro car when two men started arguing. We don't speak French, so all we could do was observe them and our fellow passengers. The argument began to grow heated, and the atmosphere in the subway car grew tense as everyone strenuously tried to ignore the fighting men and pretend that nothing unusual was happening. The argument built to a crescendo of shouting and pushing, the other passengers were mortified, the tension seemed unbearable, when suddenly--Pop!--the men stopped fighting, turned to their fellow passengers and addressed us all, and revealed that they were actually performance artists and that this was a piece of street theater. (At least that's what we gathered.) The crowd's relief was palpable, and they burst into applause. Then the performers passed the hat--with great success--and got off at the next stop. I've never seen anything like it, and I can't imagine an "act" like that working here in the States, although I'm not sure what that says about the differences between American and French culture (and subway systems).