Host an Improv Party: Free, Easy & Fun!
December 8, 2009 4 Comments
How would you like to host a party that gets everyone involved in fun, positive activities while encouraging people to be flexible and creative all while having such a blast that they will be talking about the party for months? Would you like it even better if it is no- or low-cost and simple to host?
Have an improv party or as I like to call it “Game-time-for-Grown-Ups!” Improv is short for improvisational which basically means making it up as you go. Improvisational theater has been around for a long time, but has more recently gone mainstream in the show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” which basically combines improv comedy and a game show.
What you need:
People: 5 or more friends, family, employees or club members
Space: A large enough room for people to move around
List of improv games: games and resources below
Time: 45 minutes+ of games. Keep it fast-paced, typically spending 2-10 minutes/game. Move on to a new game before people are bored. If people really like a game, you can play it twice to allow them to improve. People will want additional conversation time after the games. If you have recorded some episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (or run a Youtube playlist) People can watch that afterward as they relax and eat.
Prep time: 30 minutes to read through the activities and invite people. Keep it easy! Invite via text, facebook, email, e-vite , phone or in-person.
Food & beverages: Water is the only absolute necessity. People will get thirsty doing the activities. For the no-cost host, make it a potluck and provide dining ware or, if you are feeling really adventurous, make it improv cooking and ask the guests to spend $5 a person on ingredients in assigned categories such as meat, vegetables, fruit, wine, bread, etc. with the host providing cooking utensils and basic ingredients (flour, sugar, oil, eggs, spices). Then all work together to improvise a meal from whatever is provided (no recipes allowed!). Of course, the host can provide food or you can have pizza delivered.
Guidelines: There is one rule basic to all of improv: Don’t deny. Don’t deny your spontaneity. Don’t deny the present by looking to the past or to the future. Don’t deny other people’s ideas, efforts or suggestions. Improv is a collaborative effort. Let participants know that this is supposed to be a fun, positive and supportive experience. No put-down’s allowed! Accept and Respect. It’s GAME TIME!
A great resource for games is improvencyclopedia.org If you want to see some demos, search for “improv games” on Youtube. Described below are enough games to fill up 45 minutes, but feel free to choose other games or to make up your own! Go ahead. . .improvise!
Here’s a 10-minute video showing some of the games (poor video quality, but I do introduce the benefits of improv and also demonstrate One-Word Story, Yes, and . . ., Mirroring, and Zip Zap, Zoop!):
Alliteration Introduction (only for larger groups where many people don’t already know each other).
Everyone in a circle. A player starts the game by introducing, and alliterating to his name, e.g. “I`m Smart Steve” or “I`m Wonderful Wendy.” The next player point to the first, repeats the previous player`s name, attribute and does something similar about himself. I like to have people repeat everyone’s name and alliterative adjective (with help from others, if necessary)
A video demonstrating the Alliteration Introduction (also called the “Name Game.” This demonstration is from a seminar, so the participants are seated classroom style):
One word story
(give scene— ex: Walking a dog down Main Street):
Participants line up and tell a story one word at a time, until the story comes to some sort of conclusion (or it is apparent that it won’t!). Lesson: Giving up control
Yes, and. . . (Line or Circle)
The first person makes a positive, declarative statement, such as, “It was a beautiful day at the park today.” The next person continues with his own, single, declarative statement, that furthers the story (moves it forward) PRECEEDING it with “Yes, and. . .” For example, “Yes, and it was difficult to find a place to park the car.” Continue until the story reaches a logical conclusion. Lesson: working on affirming and adding instead of negating. Here’s a Youtube video of a partner version of Yes, and. . .
Fortunately/Unfortunately (Line or Circle). . .similar to the One Word Story and Yes, and. . ., but people alternate telling good and bad news in a story. Example: Fortunately, my parachute opened (next person: Unfortunately, I wasn’t wearing when it did!) Lesson: ability to shift thought quickly.
Participants line up and all begin rhythmically slapping their thighs, then clapping, then snapping their fingers, after doing this for a while to get the motion down, one person starts with a word (on the slap). Then at the beginning of each sequence of slap-clap-snaps, the next person in line says a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word. Lesson: split attention (multi-tasking). Thinking while doing something unrelated to the thought.
Mirror, Mirror (Partner)
Level 1: Participants partner, with one person as #1 and the other as #2. The partners take turns mirroring each others actions (actions are to be performed in slow motion). Also mirror emotions (facial expressions) The host designates which one is the leader (#1 or #2) and will “randomly” say switch (the leader becomes the follower). Level 2: Both participants follow and lead, taking turns without talking and without the teacher saying switch. Lesson: Really paying attention to the other person Here’s a Youtube example of the mirror activity
Bippity, Bippity, Bop (Circle)
Level 1—One person in the center spins around and points at someone (the Target), saying “Bippity, Bippity, Bob.” The Target must say “Bop” before the Center finishes, or the Target must switch places with the Center.
Level 2- Same as above, but when the Center points to the Target, The Target and his 2 neighbors must form a “scene” such as “elephant” (Target sticks out arm for nose and neighbors form the ears by bending arms on either side of the Target)
Another scene could be “ toaster” The Target stands with his arms straight at his sides and jumps up and down while the neighbors grasp arms around him to make the toaster slot.
Another scene could be “Monkeys” The Target and his 2 neighbors must cover eyes, mouth and ears (and they all have to pick a different one!) Lesson: Reacting under pressure
One of the players points to another player to one side of them and says ‘zip’. That player turns to the next player in the circle, points to them and says ‘zip’. Thus the ‘zip’ zips around the circle in one direction. At any time a receiving player can say ‘zap’ to the person pointing at them. When they do the player that said ‘zip’ and was pointing at them must change direction of the pointing. This means that they must quickly turn around, point and say ‘zip to the person that just pointed at them. Now the ‘zip’ can zip around the circle, but changing direction every time there is a ‘zap’. Lastly the person that receives the ‘zip’ may elect to yell ‘zoop’ and point at someone anywhere in the circle. That player then restarts the ‘zip’ going in the direction of their choice. The group must really pay attention for this to work. Lesson: Reacting under pressure
Improv—make it up as you go and have fun!