Improv Study Guide Warm-Up

Teachers, use this as a self contained class or any one or two games before any session. Also, team managers try using one of these games to get the creative juices and team dynamic to start a meeting. Teachers of all subjects can do the same to engage the students and teaching better various skills – listening, creative writing, critical thinking, public speaking, team work, focus and, most importantly, self confidence.


Improv Study Guide Warm-Up

Just like any performance art, Improv requires warm-up. These games warmup both the individual and the team dynamic. This list of games is a perfect class for building skills through game play. Learning to Improvise combines performance and creative writing skills.


Teacher or Player One starts by saying. “I HAVE A KNIFE”. Hold your hand up as if grabbing an imaginary knife by the blade. Make eye contact (OR Call out another’s name if on ZOOM). Make sure you have their attention before throwing. Throw the knife. That player will catch the knife by clapping hand in front of their face. Both players should feel the weight of the knife as well as the emotional weight – the anxiety, fear, adrenaline rush of danger, etc. Repeat and pass the imaginary knife around the room. When two performers “YES! And…” the pantomime, the object becomes real to the audience. VARIATIONS & ADVANCED LEVEL PLAY: After a point, the teacher can change the knife into a baby, a snake or other object, simply by using their imagination. Imagine molding the air like clay. Handle and pass each new object in a way appropriate to its nature. Eventually, let the class mold the object anew for every pass. MOST IMPORTANT, before throwing/passing, communicate what the object is and to whom you intend to throw it. CATCH the object your teammates pass, reflecting the amount/quality of energy in the passing, and the object’s size and weight.


One word at time, the team tells a story. Stand in a circle. Follow the story with your eyes. LISTEN and RESPOND without thinking ahead or behind. Simply say the first word that comes to mind when the story comes to you. ONLINE, name an order (good practice to place that in the chat). Consider characters and settings. Every word is important. TRICK TO COMEDY and TEAMWORK – don’t TRY to be funny or clever. TRUST yourself ands your team to be funny together. Stay IN THE MOMENT.


Now, each player in the room will add one sentence at a time to the story. The first player establishes our story. Introduce a WHO (Character/Relationship) and WHERE (Setting) choice. Each player following will start with the words: “YES! And…” Then continue to add details. With every statement (Avoid Question sin Improv) add a WHO, WHERE and/or WHAT (Action, Plot) choice.


Let’s tell one more story. Except this time, we will each be a different character. Player one starts the story by introducing their character. Pass the plate (the story) to the next player by introducing their character. Every time you talk in turn, add something new about your own character and then the next player’s character. Make a new choice about relationships, personality, mood, job, physical status, props, costume etc. When someone mentions something new about your character immediately adapt that into your portrayal of the character.


With all the above games LISTENING is the #1 skill we employ. We cannot follow the #1 rule in Improv – “YES! And…” – if we do not listen. Listen to every word of every teammate. Make your job easy by staying focused. Then upon your turn, simply say the first things that come to mind. Don’t focus on thinking something funny to say. Simply respond in the moment and make SIMPLE choices.


Find these games and more in Walt Frasier’s new book, IMPROV on ZOOM. The book is geared towards K12 Teachers and Students and avaulable resource for any fan, student or professional of Improvisational comedy.

New York based since 1997, Walt Frasier has appeared on TV (Billions, Blue Bloods, Royal Pains, Lilyhammer, Friends of the People, Letterman, WE, NICK, MTV2), commercials (Dr. Oz’s Fat Pants was also featured as bits on Letterman, Kimmel and Pierce Morgan), Indy films and seen internationally performing live comedy, theater, and singing. Since 2002, Walt has served Artistic Director of EIGHT IS NEVER ENOUGH (AKA LMAO Off Broadway and Improv 4 Kids). If you have called or emailed to book private events, Walt provided the answers, contracts, and invoices. In addition to work with organizations such as the Comedy Hall of Fame (Former Director of Instruct, creating the first iteration of their Laugh It Off program) and Arts Horizon, Walt is as a NYC DOE vendor (fieldtrips, school assemblies, residencies, after school programming), Government contractor (Workshops for military children) and working with numerous summer camps, libraries and community centers. Walt hosted college campus shows (Princeton, Williams, Georgetown, High Point, NYU, Hofstra, Columbia, etc.), managed corporate entertainment (Morgan Stanley, Master Card, Home Depot, Edy’s Grande, GM, Kraft, etc.), coordinated marketing stunts (HBO, Ben & Jerry’s, Mentos, Master Card, AMEX, McDonald’s, etc) and led team building programs (JP Morgan Stanley, BING, Ernst & Young, Twitter, HSBC, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Johnson & Johnson, etc.)


We hope to be back in Times Square soon, but for now we have students joining us form around the world on ZOOM.

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