List of Basic Shortform Games and Skills

From a discussion in 2013 between some senior WIT trainers about “what skills do we expect Micetro players to pretty much have”.

Not a definitive list of course – we, as a group, regularly learn (or invent!) new shortform games, and some games fall out of favour over time, only to be rediscovered again a year or two later.


Basic object work
Entrances and exits
How to ask the audience for a suggestion
How to ask the director for a clarification
How to be a gracious loser or humble winner
How to be directed in a scene
How to narrate and share control of a story
How to gibber
How to speak in one voice
Generating characters (physical shortcuts, accents, attitudes etc)
Endowing partners (names, occupations, relationships, status)
Show structure, how it starts and ends
Simple songs, faking ‘em
Starting a scene with an activity
Story spine an starting in the middle
Voice – being heard, whispering loudly, being quiet


Chain murder
Crime endowment
Do-ron/ Speed Do Ron / Elimination Do Ron
Emotional replay
Emotional rollercoaster
Epic poem
Evil Twin
Experts (yes and)/ Arms Experts/ variations)
Foreign Film
Foreign Poem
Freeze Tag
Genre songs
Gibberish opera
Gibberish switch (talking in gibberish for an interlude)
Hat Game
He Said She Said
Le Ronde (simple quick rounds)
Little voice
Machine -> Wanky Poem
Master Servant
Movie in a minute, other replay games such as Replay Fairy Tale
Narrated ballet
New Choice
Numbers of words
Oscar Winning Moment (It’s Tuesday)
Pickup lines
Popup Story book
Puppets, furniture
Quick large group games - Questions Only/. No Questions, No S etc, World’s worst
Reminiscences (Reunion, Old Folks’ home, Retired Superheroes)
Room of Death
Short scenes, especially the likes of death in a minute, ends with I love you, Who loves who the most
Silent scenes (e.g. bus stop)
Slide show
Slo Mo Commentary
Speak in one voice
Spoon River, points of view story
Status Switch
Story story die
Tag Out Story / Tag out song
Touch to talk
Typewriter/ Myth/ Narrated story
What Happens / Next Evil Voice
Word at a Time
Yes Let’s
Year book photo / Family Photo

Format – Battle of WITs

2003_bowThree (sometimes more) teams of 2-4 people compete in a series of improv games and open scenes judged by the audience.  An MC keeps the show moving and acts as a director of last resort – but effectively the teams are in charge of themselves.

Ideally form teams well before the show and train together, so that when you are on stage you know how to make the most of each other’s strengths, and what will inspire each other.  Give yourselves a team name, pick a team leader, even create a cute little pose or chant to introduce yourselves.

Typically there are four rounds for Battle of WITs, with eliminations after the second round and (if more than three teams) before the last round –  the MC will manage to the time available and the number of teams.  At the end of a scene teams stay on stage, as the MC asks the audience to judge “was that a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5″.  The MC may also arbitrarily add or deduct points for any reason at any time.

  • First round is the Blind Draw – the team leader will pick a game from a hat.  These will be open ended suggestions that draw on base skill games – for example, the suggestion might be “a poem” or “word at a time” or “speak in one voice”.  As a team decide quickly how you will respond, for example if you get “a poem” you could choose to do a Wanky Poem, an Epic Poem or a Sea Shanty. There is a time limit for this round, the MC will let you know when your time is nearly up.
  • The second round is Team Favourite - what you will tell the audience is your teams chosen Favourite Game – actually have a few favourites to select from, as you don’t want to do anything that’s too similar to another teams’ pick, or to a game that appeared in the first round.
  • Third round is the Team challenge – the team leader from another team sets a condition for the scene, which will be an open scene of some kind.  Don’t make these challenges too restricting or gaggy, for example “take your inspiration from the word purple” is better than “everyone must speak in rhyming couplets”
  • Fourth round MC Challenge – at the whim of the MC.   This is usually the final round, depending on time.    As an example, the MC might require each team to use a member from an opposing team to start their scene.

Teams who’ve been eliminated may still come on stage to be props or furniture or a transient marching army if called for, but just remember whose scene it is.




Training notes – The Shatner!

ShatnerBased on a suggestion from the Internets that there should be a game where, when someone yells “Shatner” everyone wildly overacts.  This elaboration on that brilliantly simple idea evolved during the WIT workshop of Tuesday October 15th 2013, almost certainly a day that will live in infamy.

Start with an audience suggestion of a location.  As many people as wish to participate line up on the edge of the stage.

  • Person A starts on.
  • Person B enters, interacts with person A.
  • Person A finds a reason to leave.
  • Person C enters and interacts with person B, until person B finds a reason to leave.
  • Person D enters and so on . . .

The goal is to quickly establish characters, relationships and motivations.  And leave.
However, if the director (or anyone else inspired) yells:

  • Shatner – wild overacting happens
  • Spock – switch to dead pan robotic acting
  • Red Shirt – someone dies very quickly
  • Shatner Sings – one character starts singing in the style of someone who doesn’t sing well, basically talk-singing

There are many fine illustrations on YouTube of the difference between talking to a sandwich as if it were Yorrick vs responding to an imploding universe with a mild eyebrow raise – for example



Game – Corpse carousel

hotelEstablish characters with relationships, by checking into a hotel or a convention, and endowing each other. Five or more players.  Game shared with WIT by David Innes, of Melbourne’s Impro Box at the 2013 NZIF.

The first player comes up to an (invisible) hotel receptionist, and faces the audience.  They establish the location of the desk and where the receptionist is sitting.  Then they name themselves, why they’re at the hotel or event, before naming and endowing a subsequent arrival.  ["I'm Lady Fothersgill, here for the Taxidermy conference.  Has my assistant Snivers arrived yet? That wretched girl is always late, with more hair than wit"]. They take their room key and leave. Continue reading

Game – Everything in this room could kill you!

roomPlayers set up a shared environment and then interact with it. Any number of players.  Game devised by David Innes, of Melbourne’s Impro Box, and shared with WIT at the 2013 NZIF.

The starting point is what David calls a ‘non-room shaped room’, something other than the usual improv kitchen/lounge/bedroom, for example a barn, a glasshouse, an abandoned church, a swimming pool.

Each player in turn comes into the room and points out some specific feature: a frayed Afgan rug someone might trip on, a heavy mirror over the fireplace that could fall, a poisonous Cymbidium orchid.   Continue reading

Warmup – Bunny Bunny (Oomcha)

bunny(Slightly different versions of this have come to WIT from different countries – for example, “ticky-tacky” replaces “talky-talky” in some)

  • Everyone in a circle
  • Hands slap thighs to a chant of “oom chaa”
  • The person who ‘has the bunny’ makes curled finger bunny ears at themselves, saying “bunny bunny”
  • They then turn the ears outwards and ‘throw the bunny’ to someone else, doing the curled ears at someone, and saying “bunny bunny”
  • The recipient then ‘takes the bunny’ and repeats.
  • People either side of the bunny face them and rock side to side with their hands square from their elbows, chanting “ticky tacky ticky tacky”  [alternate version, arms are scissored to a chant of "talky talky"].
  • The oom chaas get faster.  If someone gets it horribly wrong they may run round the outside to de-stress.
  • If no one is getting it horribly wrong it’s not going fast enough.



Warmup game – Riding on My Pony!

Thanks Kate W. for initiating this catchy-crazy warm up!

Start with one person standing on the inside of a circle of people.

Riding on my little white pony  [skipping round the inside of the circle]
Riding on my little white pony  [skipping round the inside of the circle]
Riding on my little white pony  [skipping round the inside of the circle]
And this is how it goes . . .   [coming to a stop in front of one person]
Front front front my baby    [wiggle hips wave arms at each other facing]
Side side side my baby  [face opposite directions and wiggle hips at each other]
Back back back my baby  [face opposite directions and wiggle hips at each other]
Riding on my pooonnny  [both people start skipping the next verse]

Continue until all are skipping around like happy loons.

Very silly game for bringing up energy levels and removing all shreds of dignity!