Start Over

start-over-improv-game

Number of players: cast

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 3 minutes

How Start Over works

Premise:

A series of microscenes, each beginning with the exact same simple physical action.

Game roles:

Starter: One improvisor performs and repeats a single, simple physical action to inspire a series of microscenes.

Improvisors: The remaining improvisers in play justify the Starter’s action to begin new microscenes—usually offering the first line of dialogue.

Host (optional): the Host calls “Start Over” to end a microscene and begin a new one. In the absence of a Host, any Player may call “Start Over” instead.

Gameplay:

Players take a suggestion from the audience. Starer then takes the stage alone, and performs a simple, repeatable physical action “”on loop.””

Starter repeats the action until another Improvisor joins them on stage to create a small scene based on that action. The scene continues until Host calls “Start Over,” at which point Improvisors leave the stage and Starter resumes the simple action. Improvisors then justify the action in an entirely new way, beginning a new scene.

Tips for playing Start Over

  • Microscenes can be as brief as a single spoken line, or can last a full minute.
  • The first line of dialogue should justify Starter’s action.
  • This is best played as a fast-paced game. The more microscenes, the better.
  • Simple actions win—keep them vague enough for Improvisors to justify in a variety of ways.
  • Starter can perform other physical actions within a microscene. (E.g., if Improvisor establishes that Starter is peeling potatoes in the kitchen, Starter can move about the kitchen and interact with other utensils—they needn’t peel potatoes for the whole exchange.)
  • Starter should perform an action that they can reliably repeat for 3 minutes.

9/10 (Nine out of Ten)

nine-out-of-ten-improv-game

Number of players: cast

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 2 minutes

How 9/10 works

This is a competitive cast game that can be played as either winner-takes-all (for groups <6) or as teams (for groups 6+)

Premise:

The cast is given one minute of speaking time to present their arguments on a given subject. The catch: only one improvisor may speak at a time. Improvisors compete to be the improvisor speaking when the clock reaches zero.

Gameplay:

Host takes a suggestion from the audience for a subject of debate. One improvisor is selected to stand downstage “in the box,” to deliver an argument about that subject. Host begins a one-minute countdown, and the Speaker begins.

AT ANY TIME, the other improvisors may yell, “CHALLENGE!” When this happens, Host stops the clock, and gives the Challenger an opportunity to explain why the Speaker’s argument is invalid. If the Host rejects the challenge, the Speaker may continue and the countdown resumes.

If the Host accepts the challenge, the Challenger takes the box, becoming the new Speaker, and the old Speaker rejoins the rest of the cast to await an opportunity to challenge a future Speaker.

When the clock reaches zero, the game is over, and the improvisor or team represented in the box wins.

Tips for playing 9/10

  • This game is great for opening or closing a show.
  • Allow the first Speaker time to develop a line of thought before challenging them. Giving them 7–10 seconds to speak before challenging them makes it much easier for the audience to understand the game.
  • At the beginning, keep challenges realistic. Point out errors, caveats, or biases in the Speaker’s argument.
  • As the game progresses, challenges may become more zany. You may challenge the Speaker’s grammar, character, or even make up entirely untrue counterarguments.
  • Host can accept or reject challenges arbitrarily.
  • The game is enhanced when Host justifies every acceptance or rejection immediately.
  • This game relies on frantic pacing—there is no forgiveness for hesitation in this game.

Competitive Wheres

competitive-wheres-improv-game

Number of players: cast

Length: 2–3 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Game description: Ask for a non-geographic location from the audience. Divide the cast into teams. One member steps forward from each team and faces off with each other, alternating naming objects that might be found in that location at a high speed. If they falter, name an object that wouldn’t really be found in that location, or name an object that’s already been named, the audience makes a buzzer sound.

The other team earns a point, and a new player cycles in to face off with the winner of the last round.

Notes: The humor of this game comes in for the audience when the players get something wrong.