Improv Games

To the members of this blog: feel free to add games and tips as you see fit. Make sure they are typo-free, or you WILL swallow a live gerbil.
To everyone else: feel free to submit suggestions via the comments. 

-Make other people look good. This will make you look better, too.
-Memorize scripts by topic, then line. If one of the other actors throws a curveball, it'll be easier to know what to do.
-Pronounce and project! It's amazing how many people just grunt quietly. Remember to talk loudly enough that the people in the back can hear you, but don't wake the baby in the front row.
-Read/watch/listen to funny things. You'll find that the unexpected is funny.                                              
-Learn an accent. If you need to know one for improv, you'll have one all ready.
For this game, you will need several lines of dialog on pieces of paper. You and the person you are working with each take a handful of the lines. You start with a theme: stuck in an elevator, perhaps. Now you and your partner begin talking. Every other line or so, you will take out a piece of paper and use that line somehow in your dialog. "I just covered a llama in BBQ sauce!" Here are a few examples that you could print on index cards and reuse them:

Then it poured cats and dogs.

I realized that I forgot to put in the vinegar and baking soda.

The monkey pulled out a switchblade and demanded my money.

A newsboy cried, “Rabid goat! Rabid goat!”

That was when I realized that the book was written in Sanskrit; and at the end of the book, too.

The boat almost ran into a train.

Astronauts need Reuben sandwiches.

All purple station wagons have been recalled because the engine blows up.

There is a shortage of soft sushi.

The spot-tail pencil fish eats baby giraffes.

The blanket stood up and strangled me.

Their dog is named Cat and their cat is named Fish and their fish is named Dog.

Monks in Tibet like to study plankton.

I just read Average Joe’s status: watching paint dry.

The tofu and bean sprouts are overdone.

She sells seashells by the seashore.

Piranhas have been seen in Antarctica.

There’s of movie out now called, “Attack of the Stapler”.

To blink or not to blink, that is the question.

Did you hear about the clowns?

I never saw a purple cow, and I never hope to see one.

My brother is an only child.

Can you cache a small Czech?

The dock was judged by a jury of its peers.

And all the hair fell off the bear.

If wishes were horses, beggars could ride.

The super-duper extra-deluxe mega-fabulous do-nothing device is broken again.

Oranges, not apples, keep the doctor away.

Don’t let the sepia seep.

Mongooses and morning glories are different things.

The only reason my house is still standing is because the termites are holding hands.

Shred all documents.

Don’t be afraid to bite the hand that feeds you.

Well, duh!

Beware of the stain-resistant pants!

When dust bunnies begin to move under their own power, it might be time to clean.

It certainly is windy!

Do not pass GO and do not collect $200.

I'll do it if you make pigs fly.

I'd rather swallow a live gerbil.

And there was much rejoicing.

For this game, you will need three people and a "changemaster". Someone (doesn't matter who) comes up with a scene. Every couple lines, the "changemaster" says, "Change." When he/she does, the person who spoke immediately before the "changemaster" changes a word or two of their line. If the "changmaster" wants, they can repeat "Change" a couple times. For example:
Person: Don't go walking today because it's raining.
Changemaster: Change.
Person: Don't go walking today because there's a tornado.
Changemaster: Change.
Person: Don't go walking today because the clowns are out.

For this game, you will need three or four people. Everyone works together to come up with a scene (i.e., jumping out of a plane over the desert). The director stands aside and the other two or three people act out the scene. After about five minutes, the director stops them (and can add a few comments) and then tells them how they will play the scene (i.e., in slow motion). They play the scene again (in whatever the director said; in this case, slow motion). When they get to the spot where the director stopped them before, they stop again and the director tells them how to play it again. After three or four times, somebody else becomes the director and a new scene is picked.

Famous Last Words
This is a FUN one! This game needs three or more people standing on the stage. Whenever they have something to say, they step down (or forward) and say famous last words. For example:

You can make it easily. That train isn't coming fast.

Yes, that dress makes you look fat.

Have you tried my grandmother's fruitcake?

Did I ever show you the trick of seeing how full your gas tank is with a match?
For this one, you'll need two to four people. All the people start on stage with a scene. At any point, any character can say, "Freeze!" Everyone else stops what they're doing and the person who said, "Freeze!" steps forward and says what that character is actually thinking. For example: "But what he didn't know was I had a machine gun behind my back...and the gun shoots grapefruit." Then he steps back and the scene resumes. Each person can only say, "Freeze!" once, and after the last person says "Freeze!", the game ends. Confusing enough?  

Helping Hands
This game is played by Person A putting their arms between Person B's arms and body. Person B then puts his/her hands behind their own back. If Person B needs to do something - drive a car, for instance - Person A will move their hands so that it looks like they are driving a car. This game can also be used in Speed Dating (see below).

Irish Drinking Song 
This game requires four people, with an optional audience. Someone picks a theme (in this example, lost in the jungle). Person A starts by saying something like, "One day our plane crashed in the jungle." Person B continues by saying something like, "And we were very lost." Person C: "But then the problem got worse." Person D: "Because there were rabid giraffes all around us." Then all together sing the chorus: "Oh, hity dity, hity dity, hity dity ho! Oh, hity dity, hity dity, hity dity ho!" Then, one at a time, they sing one verse at a time with the lost-in-the-jungle theme.

For this game, you need 2-5 people. A scene (ie, a public library) is picked and they begin the acting out the scene. After most "paragraphs" (when they finish what they're saying, be it one or one hundred sentences) they step back and narrate what they do, say, and/or think.

Objects #1
This one takes a couple people. Four will be plenty. Divide yourselves in half (not literally; the blood everywhere would NOT make your parents happy). In our example, two people will be actual people (who can move the Objects) and the other people will be the Objects. So, the place might be a barbershop and Object #1 a comb and Object #2 scissors. Person #1 might be a customer and Person #2 might be the barber. The barber would start by lifting Objects #1 and #2's arms and "cutting" the customer's hair. They would have a conversation. Clear enough?

Party Quirks
This game is one we have enjoyed, probably more than any of the other games. Start by picking a host and sending them out of earshot. Everyone else decides who they will be. (Examples: pyromaniac fireman, midget basketball player, RadioShack salesman, etc.) The host comes back, and one at a time, people enter the area and interact with each other and the host. During this time, the host makes guesses as to who is who. After a few minutes, stop and the host makes any final guesses.

For this game, you will need a few props. The only rules are that the prop you are interacting with cannot be what it actually is. So a lamp can't be lamp, but it could be a spear. People pair up and use one prop for a few minutes.

Questions Only
The title pretty much says it all. This takes two people. They agree on a topic and then have a conversation about it, only asking questions.
This game needs one "speaker" and an "audience" (the audience can be one or more people). The speaker picks one topic (ie, penguins) and the audience picks two more topics (ie, UFOs and puppet theaters). The speaker starts with the topic he/she picked and after a about 60 seconds moves on to a topic the audience picked. The speaker has to work them together. OPTION: The speaker can pick one topic without telling anyone and uses it in the same way as the others. 

You'll need three people for this game. Somebody comes up with a scene. Only one of the people can talk normally. The other two each have two lines they can say (like, "Where does this go?" and "I like cheese." and "Is it raining?" and "Look at the clown!"). When the scene starts, the burden is on whoever can speak normally. This develops improv skills though! The scene will go on for less than five minutes.  

Reporter (also known as Newscast, Newsflash)
For this game, you need at least three people. Five or more work better. One person (we'll call them Taylor) goes out of the room and everyone else picks a celebrity/cultural icon, etc. and something that they are doing (i.e., Santa Claus going on a diet, Godzilla going to England instead of Japan). "Taylor" comes in and everyone else asks questions that give hints about who they are and what they are doing. For that part, the "reporters" raise their hands and "Taylor" points to them, and then they ask their question. Especially at first, it doesn't really matter what Taylor says. After a few minutes, someone asks if "Taylor" has figured out who they are yet. For example:
Reporter 1: Is it true that you aren't eating any more cookies?
Taylor: No. 
Reporter 2: Why do you always wear red?
Taylor: Because red is my favorite color.

This game is pretty simple. You'll need three people and something to sit on. Someone picks a scene and the three people go through the scene, except that one person always has to be sitting, another standing, and another leaning. So when one person changes position, they all have to change position. Confusing enough?
Speed Dating 
Two people have sixty seconds to carry on a conversation with each other. Can't think of any other rules for this one.

For this one, you'll need four people. One person (we'll call them Person A) goes on stage and the others pick a character for them (like Captain Scaredy Pants) and a horrible situation (like the leaves falling off the trees). For a few lines, the Person A stays in character, talking about the situation. Then one of the other people comes onstage (we'll call them Person B). Person A names Person B (Hello, One-Legged Man, or some other character) and Person B and Person A both stay in their respective characters while talking about the situation. After a few lines, Person C comes onstage and Person B, not Person A names them. This continues until everyone has come onstage and the last person has said a few lines.

Talk Show  
You'll need at least two people for this one. Four is best. Person 1 will be the Host and Person 2 will be the Guest. If you have more people, they can be any of the following: Co-host, Actor, another Guest, another Actor, Sound Management, Stagehand. Person 1 sits behind a table and starts with a few opening remarks, then Person 2 comes onstage. Person 2 answers questions from Person 1. At some point you can put in a commercial break. Eventually, Person 2 leaves, Person 1 gives a few closing remarks, and then he/she leaves.
Person 2 ideas:
An actor soon after starring in his/her latest movie.
A writer talking about his/her latest book.
An inventor of something.

Three-Headed Broadway Star
Three people get together and a fourth person asks them a question. Then each of the three people gives a one-word answer in rotation. For example:
Questioner: How do you clean gutters?
Person 1: By.
Person 2: Getting.
Person 3: A.
Person 1: Broom.
Person 2: And.
Person 3: A.
Person 1: Ladder.
Person 2: Then.
Person 3: Climb.
Person 1: The.
Person 2: Ladder.
Person 3: And.
You get the idea.

This one requires four people. Divide yourselves in half (see note under Objects). Two people will be robots. The other people are their partners. Robots #1 and #2 cannot move by themselves. Only Partner #1 and Partner #2 can move them. The Partners do not speak; only the Robots can speak.Then the Robots go ahead and have a conversation, while the Partners move them. Got the idea? 

I just came up with this one. You'll need four people and a scene (i.e., grocery store). Two people get to do all the actions (i.e., pushing the cart, putting things in the cart). The other two people get to do all the talking (i.e., "Why are you putting that in the cart?" "This cart steers like a cow."). We've never played this game, so tell us if you try it!

World's Worst
For this, you need several people (three or more) plus a Caller. The Caller will say something like: "World's Worst Person to Be Stuck In An Elevator With" "World's Worst Scuba Diver" "World's Worst Lampshade Maker" etc, etc. The people do their zaniest imitation of whatever it is. Before they can do it more than 20 or so seconds, the Caller comes up with something else.