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Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for May, 2003
Vol. 7, No. 1: Theater Improv Games, part 1 of 2

Here's a whole category of fun that requires no equipment, can be played almost anywhere, by people of any age, and is always different: Theater or comedy improvisation games. Being fast on your feet is rewarded, and thus these games build skills that can be useful in many professions, too. And the laugh quotient is very high.

This issue and next, I'll give you ten of my favorites:

1. "What Are You Doing?" Two people go up on stage. One of them starts an action. The other watches briefly and then asks, "what are you doing?" The first person has to say something completely different from the action. As soon as the first person answers, the second person starts acting out that answer. Then the first person asks, "what are you doing?" and the second answers with a different action that the first person then begins perform. If you hesitate, repeat a verb that's been used before, or say something that's too close to your action, you're out and someone else takes your place. We actually used this to buy ourselves half an hour with a bunch of eight-year-olds, when the guest of honor at a surprise party was late in arriving.

2. "Translator." Three people sit in the front of the room. The two on the end speak only gibberish (and mime). The one in the middle translates between them and tells each one (and the audience) what's just been said.

3. "Hitchhiker." Arrange chairs as in a car, two sears in front, two in back. The person in the left front seat is the driver (right front in Britain). There are a driver and two passengers. The car stops for a hitchhiker, and everyone in the car picks up the hitchhiker's personality. The hitchhiker can be totally outrageous: druggie, mourner, Jesus freak, hooker, whatever. Then the driver finds an excuse to get out of the car, the front passenger becomes the driver, the rear passenger moves to the front, and the hitchhiker becomes the new rear passenger. And another hitchhiker, with a different personality, is waiting by the side of the road.

4. "Instant Expert." You need a talk show host and an expert. One audience member chooses a noun, one an adjective. Then the expert has to discourse on what's chosen, no matter how ridiculous: fuzzy swingsets, velvet toilet seats, precarious balloons, whatever it is.

5. "Three-Headed Expert." Similar, but this time, the expert is a three-person composite. Each answers one word in turn, until there's a complete sentence.

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