13 Fun Improv Games
We’ve all experienced the sometimes awkward process of getting to know new people, especially in group settings. More often than not, improv games are a great way to allow people to get to know one another in a fun fashion. Improv games are essentially games that are designed to improve on an individual’s improv acting skills in the theater. These games also make great icebreakers and are just plain fun for anybody to play. Children love the interactive rules of improv games and are much more likely to have fun because of the unpredictable nature of these games. Since there are a great variety of games, kids are not the only ones who can participate. Corporate outings and company team building exercises are also implementing improv games to encourage unity and cohesion among employees. Take a look at these 13 fun, energetic, and creative improv games from improvencyclopedia.org that can be used in a variety of settings.
Game #1: Imitation
This first game is simple and fun for any group, kids or adults. The game starts with everyone forming a circle. Someone will start by performing some kind of action, small or big, such as snapping or a dance move. The player can also opt to make a sound of some sort like a dog barking or whistling a short tune. The goofier the better. The next person in the circle will then do their best to imitate that sound or action and the next person will imitate that person and so on and so forth. The game is similar to telephone. You might think it should be simple to imitate a sound or action, but as more people attempt it, the more distorted and amusing it becomes.
Game #2: Ten Strikes and You’re Out!
This next game can be played by any age group and in small or large groups. Each individual holds up each of their fingers, representing the number of “strikes” they get before they are out. One at a time, each person will state something that is true about themselves but is hopefully not true about the other group members. For example, I could state that I own a dog. Whoever can say “I too own a dog” is safe. But whoever does not own a dog has to put a finger down. When someone runs out of fingers, they are out. The last person to have a finger up, wins. The goal is to say something that is true of you but NOT true about others, so the more unique you can make it, the better. This game encourages players to pay attention to and learn about the other group members so they can plan their turn strategically.
Game # 3: Rocks Ahead!
This game requires some props, really anything that can be placed on the ground as an obstacle such as a shoe, pillow, toys, chairs, etc. One person is picked as the Captain who is at the wheel of the “ship” but cannot see anything due to heavy fog (this member is blindfolded). The rest of the group are the mates who are on the lookout for any obstacles that might sink the ship like rocks, reefs, etc. which are represented by the various obstacles placed on the ground throughout the room. The group, using only their words, will do their best to navigate the blindfolded Captain through the obstacles without touching any of them. If so desired, you may allow the “ship” 1 or 2 brushes against an obstacle to make the game a little easier.
Game #4: Back to the Future
This game involves 2-4 players who will take a few minutes to improvise the plot for a short scene, but will not act it out. Then the audience will decide if they want to see what preceded that scene or what happens after. This game promotes teamwork among the actors and is just plain amusing for the audience.
Game #5: Turn and Trust
This next game is great for building trust and teamwork. Have the group form a circle with everyone standing really close together. The instruct the group to make a quarter-turn to the left. Then ask everyone to move in, standing even closer together. Next, ask the whole group to sit down simultaneously. If done properly, each group member will end up sitting on each other’s knees. If you really want to challenge them, instruct them to walk while sitting by telling them which foot to start with.
Game #6: Octopus
This next game is simple and is great for children. The group starts in either a circle or a line with each player holding hands. The group then moves around with an inevitable tangle of people forming. For added fun, have the group then try and untangle themselves.
Game #7: Jabbering Jargon
This improv game is structured around an individual, with audience participation. The individual starts calling out any words he/she wants with the goal of saying as many words as possible that have no association with the previous word. For example, I could say, “baseball, sky, bed, dog, lamp, light bulb” but at light bulb I would stop since there is an association between lamp and light bulb. This game encourages creativity and focus from the individual and vigilance from the group since they will be the ones stopping the individual when an association is made.
Game #8: Fast-Forward/Rewind
In this game you will need to pick a “director” and the rest of the group will serve as actors. The actors will act out a scene and at any point the director can “rewind” or “fast-forward” the scene at which point the actors will adjust their scene accordingly. This is a great game for improving impromptu skills and also forces the actors to work in unison, especially in the “fast-forward” portions of the game.
Game #9: Active Audience
This game is played with 1-3 players as the “story tellers” and the rest of the group provides assistance when the story tellers look to the crowd for creative ideas. For example, a story teller may say, “I like Italian food but my favorite food of all time is…” At this point the audience could yell out “dirty socks” or “beach towel” and the story teller would continue, “I like Italian food but my favorite food of all time is dirty socks. Dirty socks just really hit the spot when I’m famished.” The story can go for as long as you like. This is a great improv game that encourages the story tellers to tap into their creative side. It also leads to some great jokes that can be referenced for a long time.
Game #10: The Voice
This next game is great for an improv class or just a fun game for anyone to engage in. It can take place on a stage or anywhere there is ample room. The group, minus one, will come up with a scene to act out. One individual will not be acting but will instead be the voice of an “invisible character” whom the rest of the actors will have to incorporate into their scene. The “voice” is a supposed invisible character whom the actors can see but the audience cannot.
Game #11: Rumor Has It…
This is a great war-up game for any group. All players sit in a circle. The first person points at an individual and whispers, “Did you hear…?” to the person next to them. That person affirms and adds to the silly rumor. For example, the game might start with a player pointing to the person across from them and whispering to their neighbor, “Did you hear Joe has reverse aging disorder and is actually over 200 years old?” The neighbor might then gasp dramatically and whisper to their neighbor, “Did you hear Joe has reverse aging disorder and is actually over 200 years old and is from Mars?” This would continue until the person sitting next to Joe would tell the audience the collective rumors she/he heard about Joe. This game encourages creativity and emphasizes memory recall and is also sure to lead to some fun inside jokes.
Game #12: In Sync
For this game you will need to come up with three things that can be easily mimicked with hand gestures. For example if you picked a king, the sign could be to use your hands to form a crown above your head. If you picked a chicken, the sign could be to bob your head and cluck. You can pick anything, just make sure all the players know the three things agreed upon and what their signs are. At your signal, each player will pick one of the three things and will make the appropriate sign. The game continues until everyone in the group picks the same thing to act out. It is fun to watch who leads the group in which thing to act out and who is stubborn in following!
Game #13: Group Mime
This last game involves group coordination to mime a group activity. For example tug-o-war, rowing a boat, peddling a 10 person bike, etc. This game encourages suggestions from the audience and team work from the players. If there is no audience then simply ask any one of the players for a suggestion of what to mime.