Improv Warm-Ups : Improv Warm-Ups: Word Association Firing Line

This is an improv warm up called word association
firing line. Word association exercises are great for loosening people up, getting them
used to being spontaneous, in the moment and focusing on listening and responding without
censoring themselves. There’s lots of formations to do this, this one is called firing line.
Kind of inspired by the old execution style actually. Isn’t that fun? Well, what you do
for this one is you get the group lined up kind of shoulder to shoulder and then one
person peels off the end of the line. So, if everyone is lined up here, shoulder to
shoulder, I’m going to peel off the end of the line. I’m going to stand in front of the
first person in line. As soon as I stand in front of them, they’re going to say a word
to me. Maybe they say, “blueberry.” I’m going to listen and respond to the first word that
comes to me. “Raspberry.” Okay? Then I step in front of the next person, as soon as I
step in front of them, they say the first word that comes to them. “Carnival.” “Ride.”
“Blue.” “Skies.” “Willie Nelson.” “Cheerleader.” “Skirt.” Okay? And we go on, so on and so
forth. So I’m scooching down the line and I’m just responding, word associating as I
go, until I get to the end of the line and then I join back up with everybody else who’s
shoulder to shoulder and start feeding lines, feeding words to the next person who is moving
down the line. So it’s kind of a little bit like a caterpillar, it kind of snakes around
the room so you get lots of people getting lots of practice at the same time, which is
one of the things I like about this way of word associating. And also, not everybody
can hear everybody, so you feel a little less self conscious as opposed to doing it in front
of the group. The idea is the person moving around the line, the person moving down the
line, that’s the person who’s playing the game. That’s the person who’s focusing on
being spontaneous and listening and responding. The people that are feeding the words, that’s
the people that are operating the game for the other person. So they don’t have to worry
so much about being spontaneous. They’re more worried about saying a word right when someone
stands in front of them. So, that’s a fun spontaneity exercise where you can work on
word association, listening and responding. And I call it word association firing line.

  1. I just discovered these gems…thank you so much for sharing them all! You do a great job of explaining each exercise, and of retaining the fun and energy of improv — even while interacting mostly with just a camera. 

    (And I agree with Purenergy75, below…) ☺

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