Improv warm up games

There are myriad games that, as an improviser, are great to practice, helping to build “muscle memory” in the brain, to encourage various reactions and make them automatic (or should that just be “memory”…).

Some are great for warm up, some are exercises in and of themsleves. I will start to list the exercises here and continue to build them. This is a work in progress. If you know the provenance of un-cited or wrongly cited exercises, or you have more exercises you would like added to this list, do email me.

my own daily warm up…

Other exercises:

Exercise: Crazy Eights
Purpose: Warming up, builds energy, has team working as a chorus
Description: Everyone calls out 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 at high speed, flicking the right hand for each number; then the same again for the left hand, for the right foot, and then the left foot. Then go through the whole sequence to 7, then 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, getting faster and faster
Provenance: No idea

Exercise: Show me how to get down
Purpose: Encourages actor to inhabit space, reduces inhibition, builds trust in your team mates.
Description:
On person says to another in the group: A, “Hey Bobby” (or whatever the person’s name is)
Bobby replies: B, “Hey what?”
everyone in the group says: E, “Hey Bobby!”
B, “Hey What?”
E, “Show us how to get down”
B, “No way”
E, “Show us how to get down!”
B, “Okay!”
E, “D, O, W, N, that’s the way to get down”, and as everyone calls this, B dances for the group
E + B, “D, O, W, N, that’s the way to get down”, and as everyone calls this, everyone (including B) copies Bobby’s dance
Bobby then chooses another person in the group and says: B, “Hey Charlie”, and the sequence starts again until everyone in the group has done a dance.
Provenance: No idea

Exercise: 8 things
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Exercise: 8 locations
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Exercise: Back to back scenes
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Exercise: 3 line scenes
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Exercise: Yes and
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Exercise: Mr Hit
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Exercise: You seem
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Exercise: First unusual
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Exercise: Repeat the last word
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Exercise: Match the emotion
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Exercise: Be the same character (plus physicality
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Exercise: Tell us why you (you feel the emotion)
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Exercise: No gaps in dialogue
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Exercise: Gobbledegook status games
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Exercise: Count to 20
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Exercise: Clap throwing
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Exercise: 4 line scenes in gibberish
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Exercise: Choose a routine
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Exercise: Justifying an action
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Exercise: Justifying a line
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Exercise: Create a desire (I want / wish)
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Exercise: Yes answer
Purpose: To have one person driving the scene
Description: One individual is only allowed to reply with the answer “yes”
Provenance: We did this on the Montreal Improv Workshop, with Brent Skagford and Marc Rowland

Exercise: 5 minute Harold
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Exercise: Slow and normal
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Exercise: What happened next (Advance vs Expand)
Purpose: Scene building, story telling, descriptiveness
Description: Two people tell a story, one saying one line, the other the next. Each line must either advance or expand the story. The director may call out “advance” or “expand” to encourage the development of the story. This exercise can create some very interesting stories
Provenance: We did this on the Montreal Improv Workshop, with Brent Skagford and Marc Rowland

Exercise: Paint the scene
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Exercise: Slow motion samurai
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Exercise: Copy everyone in the circle
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Exercise: 1 person, then 2, 3, 4 walking at any one point
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Exercise: Group Paper, Scissors, Stone
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Exercise: Grab the scarf game
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Exercise: Who killed King John
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Exercise: Groups of
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Exercise: Word-at-a-time
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Exercise: Choose an emotion
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Exercise: Got your back
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