COLUMNS: Howto Play Improv Games – Scene, Audience Interactive

Columns is one of four to five interactive improv scene games we use in almost every performance of our signature show off-Broadway and at private events.

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Columns AKA Human Mad Libs, Call’Ems


Set up one two chairs at both the downstage corners for two to four audience volunteers. Players start off stage. 

Sample MC Set Up: 

For this next game we two audience volunteers. Have you played the Mad Libs games/books, where you fill in the blanks with nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc? Well this is HUMAN MAD LIBS. When our players point at you, simply shout out the first word or phrase that comes to mind, and they will use it in the scene. (Often we demonstrate, giving volunteers practice time). All we need to start is (location, household object, relationship, etc)

Game Play:

Start the scene with strong WHO WHERE WHAT choices. Give each player 2-3 lines of dialogue before jumping into the gimmick of this game. 

Then start to use your COLUMNS to fill in the blank. Don’t ask questions, instead lead your helpers. Point and make eye contact. 

  • “I just came back from the ________”
  • “I need to buy a __________”
  • “Please help me _________”
  • “Oh know coming right towards us is a very hungry ____________”

They are often not a trained speaker/performer, so repeat everything the COLUMN says. This also gives you an extra second to process. YES AND and JUSTIFY the offer before passing back to your scene partner. 

VARIATION: CALL ‘EMS Instead of volunteers on stage, players can point to ANYONE in the audience. 

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