Improv Warm-Up Games List

This is a list of improv warm-up games played at Sacramento Comedy Spot in our core improv classes. If you see some terms you don’t know, take a look at our Improv Glossary. What other games should we include?


10 SECONDS TO MAKE A…
Divide the class into groups of 4-5.
Groups have 10 seconds to create different objects with their bodies. The group members’ bodies become the object.
Groups should communicate and work together. Agree!
Students should say, “I am going to be the [blank]” instead of telling other students what to do. No directors.
Listen: Speak one at a time. Allow everyone to be creative and to be heard.
Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be funny.
List of Possible Objects:
Tree • Couch • Sunglasses • Car • Airplane • Strand of DNA • Zipper • Pirate Ship • Dragon • Vending Machine • Plate of Sushi • Helmet • Swing Set • Refrigerator • Castle • 
School Bus


1-2-3 YAY!
Everyone stands in a circle.
The first student makes eye contact with a second student, points, and says “One.”
Second student makes eye contact with a third student, points, and says, “Two.”
Third student makes eye contact with a fourth student, points, and says, “Three.”
Fourth student makes eye contact with a fifth student, points, and says, “Party.”
Students on either side of the fifth student, along with the fifth student, put their hands in the air and say, “YAY!”
Repeat around the circle with the fifth student starting each new round.


ALPHABET RACE
Split the class into smaller groups of  4-5 (larger if needed).
The first student points at another and says, “A.”
That next student points at another student and says, “B.”
Students keep passing the alphabet around the circle until they get to Z.
The first group get to “Z” wins, and should raise their hands over their heads and yell, “Yay!”
Note: Do not point in a circle or pattern. Point at random. Make eye contact. Focus.


BOP
Everyone stands in a circle. One student stands in the center of the circle.
The objective of the game is to make one of the students in the circle make a mistake. That student will take the place of the student in the center of the circle.
The student in the center can use several commands that make the students in the circle react in a certain way. The student in the center will point at one of the surrounding students and say the command. If the student(s) don’t follow the command, they end up in the center.  Here are the commands:

  • Bop – The student being pointed at does nothing.
  • Biddie Biddie Bop – The student being pointed at has to say “BOP” before the person in the middle says “BOP”. 
  • Hippidie Hippiidie Hop – The student has to hop and say “HOP” before the person in the middle says “HOP”.
  • Elephant – The student being pointed at makes an elephant sound and an creates an elephant nose. The students on either side make ears.
  • Viking – The student being pointed at creates a viking helmet and yells, “I am a viking!” The students on either side yell “Row, Row, Row!” and paddle outside of their boat. 
  • Bees – The student being pointed at, and the students on either side of them, spin around once and yell “BEES!” while they try to knock bees off of their bodies.
  • Roller Coaster – The student being pointed at, and students on either side of them, pretend they are at the top of the first hill and say, “Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” as they go down the hill. 
  • Robot – The student being pointed at makes antennae and says “BEEP BEEP BEEP”, while the students on either side of them make a robot arm.

Add Ons

  • Slow Motion Grenade – The student in middle pulls the pin on a grenade, throws the grenade, and says, “Grenade!” The entire circle “blows up” in slow motion. 
  • Banana! – The entire circle pretends they are slipping on a floor covered with bananas.

BUNNY BUNNY
Everyone stands in a circle. There are three levels of activity happening in this warm up.

  • Bunny! Bunny! – One student in the circle is “passing the ball” to another student. This is done by making air quotes with both hands toward their eyes twice while saying “Bunny! Bunny!”. Then they pass to another student in the circle by making air quotes twice, in the next person’s direction, while saying, “Bunny! Bunny!”.  
  • Tookie! Tookie! – Students on either side of the “Bunny! Bunny!” student turn toward them, raise both hands in the air, pump their hands twice and say, “Tookie! Tookie!” at the same time the middle student is saying, “Bunny! Bunny!”
  • OOH! AH! – When a student is not doing “Bunny! Bunny!” or “Tookie! Tookie!”, they are pumping their arms up and down like they are running, while chanting, “OOH – AH, OOH – AH” over and over.
  • Make sure you are making eye contact when you are “Bunny! Bunny!” and passing it to a new student.
  • Start to speed up as you go along. Start off slow.

Variation
Everyone is silent. Just eye contact and gestures.


CATEGORY MIX

Everyone stands in a circle. One student picks a category (example: shoes).

  • All of the students raise their hands and first student lists an item in that category and points to someone else with their hand still raised.
    • Important: Remind students to remember who they pointed at. They can only point at students with their hands still raised.
  • The next students lists an item in the category and points at someone else with their hand raised. 
  • The last student with their hand up lists an item in the category points at the first student.
  • The first student starts the pattern again restating their item in the category and pointing at the student they initially pointed at.
  • Students will keep repeating. 
    • Important: Remind students that they need to point and make eye contact. Don’t anticipate. 

Ask a student to pick a new category (example: cars) and repeat the above.

  • Important: Point at someone new. Try not to point at someone you have already pointed at in the last round.

Combine both categories. Have the first student start their category (shoes) and then after a couple of cycles signal the second student to start their category (cars).

  • Important Notes:
    • It is your responsibility to make sure that the person you are pointing at continues the pattern.
    • Only the person who started a category can restart a category.
    • Focus and don’t anticipate – react. 

Add a third!


CRAZY EIGHTS
Everyone stands in a circle and counts loudly to eight while shaking their right hand, then counting to eight with left hand, then right leg, then left leg, all while making eye contact with everyone in the circle.
Start the pattern again with the right hand and count to seven. Repeat with lower numbers until reaching 1-1-1-1.
Variation: Have each student use a different voice for each number that everyone else mimics. Students should also mimic any variation in the way students are moving. Example: Brad: Western Voice: 3-2-1 Saba: British Accent 2-1


ELECTRIC COMPANY
Everyone stands in a circle. They are creating compound words.
Example
First student: Stained
Second student: Glass
Whole Class: Stained Glass… Mah Na Mah Na
Second student: Arm
Third student: Band
Whole Class: Arm Band… Mah Na Mah Na
This will continue to repeat around the circle. Try to keep students on “beat.”


EMOTIONAL ZIP ZAP ZOP
Everyone stands in a circle. Get an example of an emotion. Clap-point around the group to pass zip, zap, zop. The first student claps at another and says, “ZIP”. The second student claps at another and says, “ZAP”. Third student claps at a fourth and says, “ZOP”. The pattern resets.
In emotional zip, zap, zop, you say the words using the chosen emotion. Each round starts off grounded and then heightens with each pass, until hitting crazy town.


ENERGY CIRCLE
Everyone stands in a circle.

  • One student starts with a simple action and a sound.
  • The student to the left of the first student mimics their action and sound.
  • Repeat quickly all the way around the circle, ending with student who started.

Variation

  • One student starts with a simple action and a sound.
  • The student to the left of first student mimics their action and sound, but now with each student, the energy must get more and more heightened as it goes around the circle.
  • Note: Heightening is more than just volume.
  • Repeat quickly all the way around the circle, ending with student who started.
  • When action and sound gets back to the initiating student, they will be at the highest level of energy. 

FIVE THINGS
Everyone stands in a circle. Taking turns, have students list 5 things in the category of a location.
Example: First student to another: “Brian – 5 things you would find at the state fair.”

  • Brian: Corndogs
  • Class: One!
  • Brian: Roller Coaster
  • Class: Two!
  • Brian: Horses
  • Class: Three!
  • Brian: Carnies
  • Class: Four!
  • Brian: Art
  • Class: Five! Five things!
  • Then Brian would ask a new student. 
  • Repeat until everyone has gone twice.

Instructor Notes

  • Keep it to locations and never anything personal. Wrong example: “Brian, 5 things you would find under your bed.”
  • Don’t let students pause when they are answering.
  • Tell students to visualize the place to help them find hits.
  • Don’t allow students to use “people” as a hit. They have to be more specific. 

GET DOWN
Everyone stands in a circle. The first student begins. Everyone starts to sing. Start by reviewing each other’s names.
D-O-W-N that’s the way we get down, uh huh, D-O-W-N that’s the way we get down.
First Student: Hey suzie? (Calling on another student in the circle.)
Suzie: Hey what?
First Student: Hey Suzie?
Suzie: Hey what?
First Student: Show me how you get down.
Suzie: No way!
First Student: Show me how you get down.
Suzie: Okay!
Suzie picks a simple dance move that everyone starts to copy while singing again.
Suzie picks a new student.


HERD OF SQUIRRELS
Whole class spreads out in the room.  One student says, “Look out, here comes a herd of squirrels.  The whole class becomes squirrels.  Once everyone has become a squirrel. Then another class members says, “Look out, here comes a her of [blank]”  Repeat
Reminder to the class:  Commit.  You can be any animal, real or mythological.


HOT SPOT
In a circle.  Instructor will give the class a one word suggestion.  That suggestion will inspire on student to run in the middle and sing an established song.  Students will take turns tagging out players in the middle and singing new songs.  Each new song should be inspired by the one before.
Everyone should participate.  Hardly anyone can sing.  Support in two ways.  If they know the song, they should sing along, or clap, or dance, or play an instrument.  Students can also support by tagging out the student in the middle after a couple of lines to the song.


I AM A TREE
All students in a circle. One student comes out to the middle of the circle and says, “I am a [blank] Example, “I am a tree” and becomes a tree.
A second student will come out to the middle of the circle and say, “I am a [blank}” The student will choose something that relates to and supports “tree.” Example, “I am a squirrel” and position themselves next to the tree and be a squirrel.
A third third student will come out to the middle of the circle and say, “I am a [blank].” The student will choose something that relates to and supports “tree” and “squirrel.” Example, “I am a nut” and positions themselves in a stage picture with the tree and the squirrel.
The first student will move out of the circle and take one of the other students by saying, “I’ll take the squirrel.”
Since the Nut is left over they will move to the very center of the circle and say, “I am a nut.” and be a nut. The game is reset. Two more students will now enter one at time and support.
Notes
Don’t go for the cheap joke. Example: Tree, Squirrel, NAKED DUDE. Students’ choices have to be in one category and should add up to something. Avoid pop culture.At the end of each round the player should always “take” someone as opposed to “I’ll leave the nut.” It just makes things confusing.


I’VE GOT A DRAGON THAT I WANT TO SLAY
This is a call and response game meant to encourage students to be physical and remind students of their classmates’ names. Students get in a circle. One student will be in the middle when the game starts.
Students will say, “I have a [blank] that I want to [blank]” and fill in the blanks. Example, “I have a DRAGON I want to SLAY.
All the students in the circle will respond by asking, “Who’s that DRAGON that you want to SLAY?”
The student in the circle responds by saying, “I’VE got a DRAGON I want to SLAY.”
All the students in the circle will respond again by asking, “Who’s that DRAGON that you want to SLAY?”
The student in the middle will point at one of the students in the circle will and say, “It’s [name of student]” Example, “It’s Brad….”

  • If student in the middle does not know someone’s name tell the students they should point at one of the students in the circle and say, “It’s…” and have the student say their own name.

“Brad” will step into the circle.
Students in the circle will respond by chanting, “…. NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH, It’s Brad NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH, It’s Brad NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH, It’s Brad!!
The student in the middle slay “Brad” who is pretending to be a Dragon While the class is chanting.
“Brad” is now the student in the middle. Repeat till everyone takes a turn.


JOHN LOQUACIOUS GARDENER
In a circle.
The first student gives a first name, the second student gives an adjective, the third student gives an occupation, and the fourth student acts it out.
The second student goes first the next round, all the way around the circle until everyone has had a chance to act out a character.
Loquacious defined: tending to talk a great deal; talkative.


KNIVES, BABIES, ANGRY CATS
Class in a circle. We are going to throw Knives, Babies, and Angry Cats from person to person. The goal of this game is to start and end the game with the same number of objects.

  • Start with one knife. Then add two more.
  • Hold from the blade.
  • Hold over your head when you are trying to find someone to throw to.
  • Catch the blade with two hands.
  • Always throw overhand. Always catch with two hands.
  • Eye contact and then throw. MAKE EYE CONTACT FIRST.

Add a Baby

  • Throw in a cradle position. Catch in the cradle position.
  • Bend your knees to throw and catch. 
  • Always catch and throw the baby in a cradle position.
  • Eye contact and then throw.

Add and Angry Cat

  • Holding cat under front legs.
  • Cat is angry from being thrown and is moving around and trying to scratch your face.
    Keep the cat from hurting you.
  • Throw overhand with two hands and catch the same way.
  • Eye contact and then throw.

LITTLE SALLY WALKER
Students in a circle. One student in the middle.
Start with the instructor in the middle to demonstrate.
Everyone sings Little Sally Walker:

Little Sally Walker
Walking down the street.
She didn’t know what to do
So she stopped in front of me.
She said, “Hey girl, do your  thing,
Do your thing and switch!
Hey girl do your thing
Do your thing and switch!”

  • Student in the middle moves around the circle during the song and then stops in front of another student on “So she stopped in front of me.”
  • On “Hey girl,…” the student in the middle does a movement or dance initiative front of the other student.
  • On first “Switch” the students trade places so there is new student in the middle.
  • The new student in the middle mimics the movement or dance of the previous student in front of that student until the end of the song.
  • Repeat

LOOK AND SCREAM
Students in a circle. Start with heads down.

  • Instructor will say, “1-2-3 up.”
  • Students raise their heads and make eye contact with student… 
  • If two students make eye contact then both students scream and step away from the circle. 
  • Bring in the circle each time someone leaves.
  • Repeat until one or two students are left. Winner!
  • Repat the game from the beginning. 

Variations

  • Play a couple rounds with scream
  • Someone you haven’t seen in a long time. (Stay in the circle.)
  • Like last one- only mistaken identity. 
  • Smoked weed and found something profound.
  • Witches
  • Like both of you know the other person farted.
  • Celebrating a win

MIND MELD
Group stands in a circle.

  • Two students start.
  • Instructor counts to three and students each say a word. (Example: 1-2-3 [word])
  • The rest of the students try to find a word that connects to both words. 
  • When two student think of a connecting word they raise their hand and repeats the process.
  • Repeat until both students say the same word at the same time.
  • Students are always connecting the last two word and not taking into account old words.

Examples

  • dog and walk = leash 
  • fire and basket = rescue

MY NAME IS BRIAN
Everyone in a circle.
Everyone starts by tapping their legs twice and then clapping their hands twice. (Start with clapping or you will never get the rhythm of what is happening.)
The Instructor starts off and says, “My name is…” while tapping their legs twice, “Brian” while clapping their hands twice. (Class is tapping and clapping with the instructor.)
The entire class repeats, “My name is…” while tapping their legs twice, “Brian” while clapping their hands twice.
Repeat for the entire class.

Modifications

  • Faster each time.
  • Doing it with the student instead of repeating “My name is Brian.” “My name is Sarah.”
  • When the person says there name they have to say it in a weird voice and then the class imitates that weird voice.
  • Same as initial game but instead of clapping each student does something simpel with their hands/arms  the class can imitate. 

NAME SIGNALS
Students in a circle.

  • Have students think of pose based on a hobby, personal attribute, or special event in their life.[
  • First student says their name and does their pose at the same time. Example: “Brian!” + (Acts like snowboarding in a pose)
  • The class repeats by saying the name and doing the same pose.
  • Go around the room a couple of times to learn everyone’s name and pose.
    Then… 
  • Have the class clap twice and then…
  • Have the class say each students name and pose WITH the student.
  • After each student clap twice and then go on to the next student.
  • Get faster each time you complete the circle. 
  • Example: Everyone claps twice. Everyone says, “Brian!” and does Brian’s pose. Everyone claps twice. Everyone says, “Sarah!” and does Sarah’s pose. Ect.  

NAME THUMPER
In a circle, students choose an adjective (action) that starts with the first letter of their first name. First student shows their action and, at the same time, says their action with their name.
Example: Jumping Jaime. (Jaime is jumping and saying, “Jumping Jaime” at the same time.)

After the first student does their Name Thumper, the rest of the class repeats it back to them. Keep repeating with each student in the circle. Go around the circle a couple of times using the same Name Thumpers until the class is familiar with each student.
Then..
Pass the Name Thumpers around the circle. First student says/does their Name Thumper and then another student’s Name Thumper. That student says/does their Name Thumper and then another student’s Name Thumper. Repeat.
Example: Balloon Animal Brian, Jumping Jaime. Jumping Jaime, Scary Stephanie. Scary Stephanie, Bouncing Billy. Bouncing Billy, Noodlehead Nate. Etc. 


PASS THE CHARACTER
Circle.  First student makes eye contact with another student across the circle and walks toward that student doing a character.  2nd student studies everything the first student is doing/saying and then recreates that character by walking toward another student.  Repeat until crazy town.
Note:  Don’t change the character on purpose.  But follow the changes.


PASS THE NAME
Students in a circle. First have students introduce themselves to the students on their right and left and go around the circle and have everyone share their name with the class.

  • One students starts by making eye contact with the student on their right or the left and saying their name, “passing the ball” to that student.
  • The second student can make eye contact with the student on their right or left and say their name.
  • If second student reverses the direction of the “ball” by making eye contact and saying their name back to the person that just passed them the ball, then the first student has to move in the other direction- they can not pass it right back.
  • Make sure that students maintain a fast pace as they pass their names around the circle.
  • Play a couple of rounds and encourage students to go faster.

Variations

  • One students starts by making eye contact with the student on their right or the left and saying the student’s name, “passing the ball” to that student.
  • The second student can make eye contact with the student on their right or left and say the student’s name to “pass the ball” to them.
  • If second student reverses the direction of the “ball” by making eye contact and saying the name of the student that just passed them the ball, then the first student has to move in the other direction- they can not pass it right back.
  • Make sure that students maintain a fast pace as they pass other students names around the circle.
  • Play a couple of rounds and encourage students to go faster.

Have students change places in the circle several times. Each time students switch they should introduce themselves to the students on their right and left.


SPLAT
Everyone in a circle. Instructor in the middle of the circle.

  • The instructor points at one of the students in the circle and says splat. 
  • The student being pointed at ducks and the students on either side point their “blaster” (hands threaded with finger pointing out) at each other and yell, “SPAT!”
  •  The student who shoots first (aims at the right person and yells spat first) wins and the other student sits down in the circle. (Instructor quickly determines who shot first.)
  • Keep repeating until there are only two students left.
  • The last two students end up back to back in the middle of the circle. The instructor asks the class for a magic word.
  • Instructor starts to say words that sound like magic word. With each word the students take one step away from each other. When the instructor uses the magic word they will turn and shoot. Student who shoots first, wins!

 SWORD FIGHT
Students spread out throughout the room.

  • Each student has sword (one arm from fingertips to elbow) that is dipped in poison.
    • You can not switch arms.
  • The objective of the game is to be the last person standing.
  • You can “kill” another student by touching them with your sword. 
    • Respect each other’s bodies- No bathing suit area.
  • Student can block sword to sword. 
  • Must move in slow motion at ALL TIMES.
    • Even when you are striking with your sword – DO NOT speed up when you go to strike. 
  • When you are struck by the sword have a tremendous death and sit down in a chair.
    • DO NOT go to the ground.

Variation

  • Two Swords
  • Can play with movie score music in the background if you are near sound equipment.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Starts with 2 students on stage. 

  • First student starts miming an activity- something simple
  • Second student asks, “What are you doing?”
  • First student tells them exactly what they are doing and then asks, “What are you doing?
  • Second student mimics the first student’s activity, and answers by saying they are doing something that closely resembles the activity but is not what the first student labeled it, and then asks, “What are you doing?”
  • Students go back and for until they can’t think of anything else that looks like that motion.

Example: Instructor starts to bounce a basketball.
Have student asks, “What are you doing?”
Instructor says, “Playing basketball. What are you doing?”
The student starts to bounce a basketball and says, “Playing with this yo yo. What are you doing?


WHAT’S JORDAN DOING
Class in a Circle.

  • Start by all chanting together, “What’s Jordan Doing? Jordan’s walking down the street.” Everyone also acts out walking down the street.
  • Right after “Jordans walking down the street the next student in the circle adds an activity and acts it out, starting with Jordan. “Jordan’s looking at birds.”
  • Everyone repeats and acts out the new activity. “Jordan’s looking at birds.”
  • And then everyone starts with the chant again but this time incorporates what the last person added. “What’s Jordan Doing? Jordan’s walking down the street. “Jordan’s looking at birds.”
  • The next student adds something else, “Jordan’s taking off her jacket
  • The class repeats, “Jordan’s taking off her jacket.”
  • And then everyone starts with the chant again but this time incorporates what the last person added. “What’s Jordan Doing? Jordan’s walking down the street. “Jordan’s looking at birds. “Jordan’s taking off her jacket.”

ZOMBIE
Entire Class spread out throughout the room.
Choose one student to be a zombie.
When the instructor says “go” , zombies will try to tag students to turn them into zombies.
Students have to transform into a zombie before they can start to go after other humans.
Everyone has to move in slow motion.
Play until everyone is a zombie.
Be respectful of students’ bodies. No tagging in the bathing suit area.
Make sure people do not climb on seats. 


ZOOM, SCHWARTZ, PROFIGLIANO
Everyone stands in a circle. This is a game where students pass a “ball” from one player to another. 

  • One student starts the game by looking and “pointing” (clapping their hands together, aiming their hands at another student) and saying “Zoom.” 
  • Players have three choices to play this game:
  • Zoom – Student looks and “points” at any student in the circle and says, “Zoom.” This play is for passing the ‘ball’ to the person the student points at. In turn, that new student and “zoom” anyone else in the circle. (Expect the students to their immediate right or left.) You can not zoom a zoom. 
  • Schwartz – When a student looks and points at a student in the circle and says, “Schwartz” the “ball” goes back to the previous player. The student saying, “Schwartz” must look at the previous player. You can not Schwartz a Schwartz. 
  • Profigliano – A student looks and points right or left and say, “Profigliano” which will pass the “ball” in that direction. You can not Profigliano a Profigliano

Like most Improv games, this is also a drinking game.


ZOOMIE ZOOMIE
Students circle up with the Instructor in the middle.
Instructor is Zoomie Zoomie.
Students from left to right, clockwise around the circle, are numbered One One, Two Two, etc.
Zoomie Zoomie starts off by saying, “Zoomie zoomie up the beat zoomie zoomie” and then selects a student  “three three.”
The student who is selected must say their number first and then another student’s number. “Three Three, Five Five”
Tell the students they can select the first person again by saying, “Zoomie Zoomie” but each time you return to Zoomie Zoomie the pace gets a little faster.
When someone “messes up” they have to go to the end of the circle and the Zoomie Zoome starts over again.
Note: remind the class to start off slow and not to raise the pace too fast, or in the middle of a round.


The End!