Top Ten Improv Games

posted by RedTimbre
146k Views

Ah, improv comedy: the slacker's favorite alternative to writing comic material with any deep thoughtfulness.  Improv, however, shouldn't be simply discounted as being lesser than any other true comedic artform.  It takes a certain wittiness, recalling ability, and fertile repertoire by which comedy can be engendered on the spot.  An improv comedian is always on his toes and tapping every resources available, intrinsic and extrinsic (e.g. the scene, given characters, verbal cues, etc.).  Some improvisers can adapt the art to fit an entire 90 minute stand-up routine (i.e. Robin Williams, with the help of 800 water bottles in lieu of former coke habit), while others work as a troupe or cast in a show (live or televised), consisting of a series of games that come straight out of some manual.  While Whose Line Is It Anyway? is the most recognizable source of improv exposure (due a lack of televised competition), improv theater is a big thing in big cities and a heavily-tapped resource for SNL cast members (Second City, Upright Citizen's Brigade, Groundlings, etc.).  While Whose Line opts to only display a topical sampling of what can be found in an improv performance, here is a sampling of some of the best participation-friendly improv games that both can and can't be found on any rerun of the series (in either case fun to play in any acting class or at any party in need of some liveliness).   

10
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:14 PM
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The key to this game is repulsion: consisting of a "bench resident" and a newcomer, it is the job of each newcomer to find an imaginitive way to, as the name of the game implies, scare the bench dweller off so as to assume their position (and so on).  This game invites a maximal amount of players, more heads to provide more inventive ways of inducing unsettling horror (respecting laws of public decency of course, no need to re-enact a Jim Morrison, as long as it's all pantomimed).  Bench dwellers, to increase intensity, can be resistant at first (to up the ante), so long as they don't play Mr. Brave and ruin the entire game for everyone.

posted 10/10/2014 05:56 PM
Score: unrated
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Honestly I disagree. I believe that this game is great for young students as it can be fun and let thier creativity go wild
posted 10/6/2013 08:22 AM
Score: 100%
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an okay game for true/dedicated drama/theatre students. No a game for young students elementary school. They get FAR too silly
posted 9/25/2013 08:22 AM
Score: 100%
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Ghfvhv
9
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:21 PM
Score: 
75
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This game, between two people, takes a given scene and requires the performers to exchange dialogue in which the first word they speak must begin with the next letter of the alphabet, starting with whichever letter is elected and finishing at the letter just before (Z would loop back to A).  The dialogue must propel the action in the given scene (and ultimately conclude it).  

Sample dialogue: "Are you coming to dinner?" "Before I wash my hands?!"  "'Course not.  That'd be disgusting."  "Disgusting indeed."  "Everyone should be so sanitary."  "Flushing included."  "Gross.  I hope you flush."  "Ha ha.  Of course I do."  "I was just testing you.  You passed in flying colors."  "Just hope those 'flying colors' don't come up in whatever you're making for dinner."  "Keep it up, Mr." "Let me guess, something yellow and brown..."  "My speciality, baked beans and corn on the cob."  "Nothing quite like eating like a hobo." "Oh that reminds me...we're being evicted."  "Please tell me you're joking..."  "Quite serious in fact.  And it's your fault."  "Really? How?"  "School keeps you from working.  Paying the mortgage."  "The mortgage?  I'm in third grade!"  "Usually that matters, but not in this case."  "Video games are my only bill!"  "Whatever, somebody's got to contribute."  "Xylophones are what we learned about in school today, nothing about financial responsibility!"  "You need to grow up, because you're father is about as useful, when it comes  to feeding this family, as a box of Scooby Snacks."  "Zoinks."  Scene.  

Certain letters are harder than others, but they always make for the most amusing moments, where in which a player must somehow adapt a limited range of words (or else more esoteric) to fit the scene.  For the letter"x", "xylophone" "Xerox," and "x-ray" are often opted for (and usually forcefully so), moreso than "xenophobia."  A wordsmith would excel at this game for sure, but remember that you're performing for an audience of lay men, less your ego.     

8
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:20 PM
Score: 
77
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Warning: this game is only to be attempted by die-hard music junkies and/or film buffs.  Played between two exceptionally honed players, It is as hard as it gets.  It is certainly an effort to recall a single song title to fit a single situation, but to carry on an entire scene with nothing but back-and-forth title-dropping, that is both befitting of the scenario and action propulsive, just makes things "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger."  Like the question game, two active players are given one or more tag-team players to step in when an actual song title isn't offered (perhaps only a lyric, album title, or disqualitfying fraction).  If not to play, this game is a spectacle if recall ability is at top notch.  Too many, though, are forced to "Hit the Road Jack" because they can't take "The Weight" or "Beat It" (they just think, "I'll Cry Instead").   Note: filler words, as I've used between puns, are not allowed in actual gameplay, but I'm "Breaking the Law" to make a point.        

7
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:17 PM
Score: 
77
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This game is literally open to interpretation: involving two in an introductory scene, who to an extent may wish to exaggerate gestures and physical actions, at any point an outside participant can shout "freeze," at which point all action and dialogue ceases (bodies frozen in place) and the person can then go and tag whichever player he wishes to replace.  What ensues is up to the literal scene stealer, as he must resume where it all left off, though redirecting the scene however he chooses.  The idea is that the newcomer will inevitably make use of the last line spoken or pose assumed for a humorous effect.  For instance, say a player says something like, "take two and call me in the morning," while extending two pairs of pinched finger tips (as if to hold two pills); a scene stealer might come in, taking the place of the patient, and resume by saying, "But Doc, what am I going to do with an extra set of nipples?"  The make this game less frustrating, it'd be best to let a scene grow to be longer than two seconds before selfishing ousting someone for a cheap laugh (that is to say, be courteous, as a spectator/participant who'd hate to be denied a decent amount of spotlight yourself).

posted 10/21/2014 05:59 AM
Score: unrated
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really
posted 3/8/2014 05:48 PM
Score: 100%
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I've preformed this multiple times, it's definitely a crowd favorite!
posted 2/6/2014 02:25 AM
Score: 80%
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i see this as an advanced game - or, at least, for very warmed up improv actors
6
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:18 PM
Score: 
77
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Is this game any good?  Would it be absurd to continue writing the rest of this section in nothing but questions?  This game involves two people, with any additional number of people off to each side as sub-ins.  The players must only interact inquisitively, that is with questions only, to carry forth the given scene.  As soon as one play slips up (offering a statement, re-asking the previous question in a slightly different way, or simply taking too long to respond), they are booted and replaced by the "player on deck" behind them in the wings.  The worst way to play this game is to drag it on too long with techically acceptable questions, like kicking back the former question with, "Do you want me to_____?" over and over again.  The object isn't just to stay in the game as long a possible (you can't win an improv game), but to carry forth the scene and evoke interest/laughter through the content of the dialogue.  

posted 11/20/2014 12:33 PM
Score: unrated
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technically*
posted 11/20/2014 12:34 PM
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Maybe be nicer next time, instead of being a fucking grammar nazi. "Anonymous Coward" for a reason.
posted 7/8/2014 03:15 PM
Score: 100%
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This Is A Great One
posted 11/20/2014 12:34 PM
Score: unrated
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Oh.
5
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:13 PM
Score: 
78
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This game specifically calls for four people, two to perform the scene (provided beforehand and speaking in a gibberish alternate resembling a given foreign language, making meaningful actions and facial expressions all the while) and two to translate for each gibberish-speaker (off to the side).  The comedy comes from the interplay between the translator and his respective speaker and how faithfully he chooses to interpret what the speaker is supposedly saying.  For instance, if a performer speaks some heavy sentiment, spouting verbal nonense of course, while providing a determined frown of dissapproval, it'd be amusing if the translator had his words be something completely pathetic and silly to get worked up over.  This game allows both parties a separate sense of satisfaction, speakers a channel through which to emote nonverbally (and perhaps some lingual parody) and translators the gift of literal meaning.  As a result, alternating roles isn't such a bad thing, fulfillment can be had on both sides of the language barrier.  

4
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:15 PM
Score: 
79
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This game is fun as it involves a bit of mystery: the assorted "bachelors" (any more than three would be over-indulgent) are comprised of any given identity in a hat, as self-invented or supplied by a pooling audience, which the chooser must identify after each has been given a moderate amount of time to express themselves (perhaps two or three rounds, so the game doesn't drag on and/or other participants can get a turn).  The chooser, in order to get a juicy response from each contestant, should ask provocative/evocative questions to up the hilarity and revelation opportunities.

posted 7/22/2014 09:18 PM
Score: 50%
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only behave
3
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:13 PM
Score: 
81
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This game involves two teams of two (really embracing the "two heads are better than one" adage), two sets of props, and some heavy Rorschach-style interpreting.  This game is a blast for those who love applying the nether-regions of their wild imaginations to the ambiguous.  Alternating back and forth, allowing for a short window of thinking time, all of a sudden a pair of traffic cones can become giant crayon tips or a bra for Madonna, and a coat hanger can become a bow and arrow that won't fire or a pirate hook for a captain who will hang you out to dry (that is unless you are dryer-safe, at which point he'd probably just take you to the cleaners).  While household items work, wonkier items allow for greater (i.e. more interesting) possibilities.  

2
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 01:14 PM
Score: 
82
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This is another game involving some dramatic irony.  The host of a party has no idea who his three guests are, as they each come in one at a time making their identities demonstrably known (without explicitly saying, "I am _____" of course).  The identities should be worked out beforehand, ideally allowing audience/dormant player participation, while the host goes for a walk or puts on some loud headphones.  As each identity, or quirk, is guessed, that player can sit down until the rest share the same fate.  Watching the quirks interact with each other is fun by itself.  Note: the "host" should recognize beforehand that this game puts him at the backdrop of the spotlight inherently and do his job nobly nonetheless. 

1
by RedTimbre - 6/21/2011 02:07 PM
Score: 
83
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This game, involving two people, has a scene play out (based on a given scenario), then requires the two players to replay or reinterpret  the scene according to supplied suggestions.  Suggestions can be an emotion, time period, or particular genre of TV/film/theater.  The subsequent replays, in order to to fit in more suggestions, can be shortened to keep things interesting.  A lot of fun can be elicited from the juxtaposition of starkly different genres (e.g. Drew Carey's favored "porno" follow-up after, say, a more biblical setting).

posted 8/18/2014 01:46 PM
Score: 50%
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This game, involving two people, has a scene play out (based on a given scenario), then requires the two players to replay or reinterpret the scene according to supplied suggestions. Suggestions can be an emotion, time period, or particular genre of TV/film/theater. The subsequent replays, in order to to fit in more suggestions, can be shortened to keep things interesting. A lot of fun can be elicited from the juxtaposition of starkly different genres (e.g. Drew Carey's favored "porno" follow-up after, say, a more biblical setting).
posted 1/10/2014 12:37 PM
Score: 55%
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wsdfcghjkjtdrxfcvgbhjhdrsxcvgbhjuytfdrfxcvgbhjf
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Comment on this List - Top Ten Improv Games
posted 2/17/2014 10:59 AM
Score: 54%
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the BEST of all العاب باربى