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Short Form
Encyclopedia

This list includes games commonly played at ImprovBroadway and other places.

KEY:

- Red games do not require a pianist

- White games require a pianist

- Blue games involve an audience member

- Difficulty ratings reflect how much practice is required to play the game well. 1s can be done without much practice, and 5s must be practiced thoroughly.

Scene Games

Games that revolve around creating a story.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

 

The host interviews a couple on the story of how they met, including major events and confidant characters.  The performers then recreate the story, sticking to the plot points established and taking liberties otherwise.  Can be done in a genre or as a musical.

Difficulty: 3

ACTING COACH

 

At intervals, the host tells the performers to repeat a line or action with increasing intensity of some aspect he specifies.  The scene continues after it has intensified enough.

Difficulty: 3

BLIND LINES

 

While the performers are outside, the host gets sentences from the audience and has audience volunteers write them on pieces of paper.  The performers return and do a scene, picking up, reading aloud, and justifying the lines at intervals.

Difficulty: 2.  Do not headline lines, e.g.: "You know, my grandma always said…[line]."

CAMPFIRE TALES

 

One performer is an older relative telling a story to two audience volunteer "children," while the remaining players act out the story.  At intervals, the storyteller will interrupt the acted out story to explain what happens next.  During these explanations, he will prompt the audience members to "remind" him what happens next.

Difficulty: 3

COUNTRY HIJINKS

 

Four performers split into teams of two. Team B goes outside while Team A does a short scene. Team B comes back inside and watches Team A recreate its scene speaking in gibberish. Team B then recreates what it thinks the original scene could have been.

Difficulty: 3. Enhance the game by making sure the motions are memorable and recreated accurately. Team B should purposely choose to misinterpret actions.

DIRECTOR

 

One performer is a director.  The rest do a short scene.  The director yells "cut!" to stop them, gives them direction, then the scene repeats.  This happens 2-3 times.  Direction can include accents, genres, or emotions from audience suggestions.

Difficulty: 3

FOLEY

 

Two performers do a scene and two audience members do sound effects, each doing sounds for one performer.

Difficulty: 3. Mock and justify how bad the sound effects are.

HUMAN PROPS

 

Three audience volunteers become props throughout the scene.

Difficulty: 4.  Be sure to maintain a story rather than just calling props into existence.  Mock and justify how bad or delayed the audience is when becoming props.

IB+

 

The host modifies and controls the scene using remote control commands, including:

- Pause/Play

- Rewind (reverse actions and repeat lines in reverse order)

- Slow Motion

- Skip scene (jump ahead to a new scene in the story)

- Director's commentary (scene goes silent and someone not in it acts as the director)

- Foreign dub (everyone speaks foreign-sounding gibberish)

- Director's Cut Ending (alternative ending if you don't like the original)

Difficulty: 4

MUSICAL COUNTRY HIJINKS

 

Four performers split into teams of two. Team B goes outside while Team A does a short scene that ends in a song. Team B comes back inside and watches Team A recreate its scene speaking in gibberish. Team B then recreates what it thinks the original scene could have been.  The music should be the same each time.

Difficulty: 3. Enhance the game by making sure the motions are memorable and recreated accurately. Team B should purposely choose to misinterpret actions.

MY HANDS ARE TIED

 

For 4 performers in pairs.  For each pair, the person in front holds his arms behind his back and the one in back puts his arms through, such that the rear persons arms act as the front person's arms in the scene.

Difficulty: 2

MY MUSICAL

 

The performers line up across the front of the stage and take turns coming up with new musical titles using two initials from the audience.  If the host likes a title, he signals to expand and the person who came up with it offers a brief synopsis.  If the host likes the synopsis, he signals the performs to do a short musical excerpt from the musical.

Difficulty: 2

NEW CHOICE

 

At any time, the host can yell "new choice," and whoever spoke last must say something to replace his last line.

Difficulty: 1. Each successive new choice in a set should be more ridiculous than the last.

NOVELIST

 

One performer is writing a book.  The others act out the scene being written, with the author interrupting to narrate at intervals.  The actors and author both influence the story, but only the author can delete and rewrite something that happens.

Difficulty: 4

PICK A TEXT

 

One performer is able to speak normally, but the others can only speak messages from an audience member's phone (1 phone per performer).

Difficulty: 1

PILLARS

 

1-2 audience volunteers stand onstage. Throughout the scene, performers may tap on the volunteer's shoulder, after which the volunteer will give the next line of the scene.

Difficulty: 1.  Be sure to repeat what the audience says when continuing.

RAP IT

 

At any point during the scene, the host can call "rap it," and whoever spoke last must begin rapping.

Difficulty: 3

REVOLVER

 

Four performers stand in a square.  Each side of the square is a different scene, with the pair at the front of the scene being the one acted out.  At intervals, the host will call "rotate," after which the square will rotate to the next side and act out that scene.  When returning to a side, time has passed.

Difficulty: 1

 

SING IT

 

At any point during the scene, the host can call "sing it," and whoever spoke last must begin singing.

Difficulty: 2

SHAMILTON

 

An improvised Hamilton-style rap musical about a fake historical figure or event, focusing on three important scenes.

Difficulty: 5

SWEET PERFECTION

 

Four performers split into pairs. Team A starts doing a scene. At any time, Team B can shout "objection" and point out an error or take issue with something Team A did. If the host overrules the objection, the scene continues from where it was paused. If the host sustains the objection, Team B takes over the scene and it continues from where it was paused.

Difficulty: 3.  Escalate the frequency of objections as the game goes on. Do not acknowledge the content of a sustained objection when resuming the scene.

TELEPHONE

 

Four performers split into teams of two. Team B goes outside while Team A does a short scene. Team B enters and must try to recreate the first scene using nothing but a 10-word description from an audience volunteer.

Difficulty: 1

TEXT ME A MUSICAL

 

Each performer has an audience member's phone. When the host prompts the pianist to start a song, whoever spoke last must sing an unbroken sequence of text messages (censored if necessary) from the phone.

Difficulty: 2

TWO ROOMS

 

The performers split into pairs, each doing a different scene. One pair performs at a time. When they switch between the two scenes, the last thing said before the switch must be the first thing said after the switch. Each team continues its own scene between switches.

Difficulty: 1.  If 6 performers, rename to 3 Rooms.

 

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

 

Whenever one performer asks "what do you mean?" the one being asked must sing until someone else in the scene talks.

Difficulty: 2

Guessing Games

Games that involve standing outside and not hearing information.

CRYSTAL BALL

For 3 performers, as a fortune teller, crystal ball spirit, and client.  The fortune teller must guess the client's next job, then future spouse, then death, through mimed hints from the spirit and verbal confirmations and denials from the client.

Difficulty: 2

INTERROGATION

The suspect must guess what "crime," then accomplice, then motive he's accused of based on hints from two interrogating policemen.

Difficulty: 3

LATE FOR WORK

The guesser is an employee late for work.  The hint givers, standing on the other side of a "boss" character, are employees miming three specific excuses for being late.  The boss can give verbal hints if needed or turn around and "catch" the employees being weird to break up a long miming segment.

Difficulty: 1

PRESS CONFERENCE

One performer is hosting a press conference.  He must guess who he is, then what occasion or event the press conference is about based on hints from the other performers, acting as reporters while sitting in the audience.

Difficulty: 2

SPLIT ENVIRONMENTS

For two performers.  Both are given a different environment.  Both must act as though they are in their own environment, justifying how what the other person says fits into that environment, while figuring out where the other is.

Difficulty: 4

Gimmick Games

Games that do not contain a traditional scene.

ADVICE PANEL

Performers answer advice questions as characters.

Difficulty: 1

CARNEGIE HALL

One performer sings a song (without pauses) about a subject, while three performers with whiteboards take turns coming up with a word related to the subject, which the singer must incorporate into the lyrics as quickly as possible.  One whiteboard reveal per couplet.

Difficulty: 5

DUELING SOUNDTRACKS

One pair of performers sings the introductory theme song for a TV show with a title and genre given by the audience.  The second pair of performers then does a very brief scene from the show based on what they sang.  The pairs switch off and go back and forth.

Difficulty: 4

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

Two performers are hosting a stage musical review show.  They set up the characters, story and context for three songs from the musical, which are performed by two other performers.

Difficulty: 3

GOOD, BAD, WORSE

Performers stand in a line across the front of the stage and give a good, bad, then worse (or ridiculous) answer to an advice question from the audience.

Difficulty: 1

SERENADE

The performers interview, then serenade an audience member.

Difficulty: 2

SING LIKE

Each performer takes a turn singing a song while doing an impression assigned by the host.

Difficulty: ?

SLOW-MO OLYMPICS

Two performers are sports news anchors covering the final round for an unusual Olympic event.  Two other performers are the final two competitors.  Once the anchors say the event starts, the athletes act out the competition in slow motion while the anchors explain what's happening and dramatic music plays.

Difficulty: 4.  Move slower than you think you need to.  Both anchors and athletes should make offers for the other pair to justify.

SPELLING BEE

Three performers form a three-headed spelling monster that spells and speaks one head at a time, sequentially.  The monster spells words and provides other word-related information.

Difficulty: 4

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