Improv: Storytelling

Here is a long-forgotten post that I never published, about the improv class I took in June 2011. It’s in note format, so not everything is easily understandable, but I’d like to finally publish it for my own sake.

Games we played

  • Ball
  • A&B Super-Spy
  • Tell a story one word at a time, starting with “Once upon a time…” to get going easily.
    • Partners
    • Groups of 4
      • Told in rounds of 1 word per person, then 2, 3, 4, 3, 2 and finally 1 per person again. Go around exactly 7 times.
    • Whole class
      • One word at a time, then two words at a time. If someone is stuck, they can throw their hands up and said “again!” And the group will answer “again!” in unison so that the person can start over.
      • Once upon a time… > And every day… > Until one day… > Because that happened (x3)… > Until finally… > And ever since then… > The moral of the story is…
  • Word association line
  • String of Pearls
  • Category Die

Lessons learned

  • Remember to always go with the first thing that pops into your head. Don’t second guess – embrace the obvious. You don’t have to be funny or clever. If it’s obscene or awkward, we’ll either deal with it or just let it go.
  • “Expert adjustment” – sound like an expert with whatever you’re saying and it will work out fine. Even if you’re not sure!
  • Make your partner look good – your job is not only to throw the ball when it comes to you, but also to help them catch the ball.
  • The most important thing is the last thing your partner said. Whatever ideas you may have had brewing can go out the window, so always listen to your partner and act like their contribution is the most brilliant thing in the world!

Feelings I had

  • I don’t like when certain classmates are always volunteering or going first.
  • People are saying awkward things.
  • I am distracted by thinking about the cute boy in the class.
  • I feel uncomfortable doing this partner thing and I am rambling.
  • I don’t want to be the one who makes everyone cringe.
  • People are overanalyzing or being too serious or trying too hard.
  • There are some people in this class who intimidate me or put me off so much that I don’t want to interact with them. What’s the point in getting to know them when the class will be over in three weeks?
  • I am failing at this, not being sure of myself and putting things into practice, and I am thinking negatively so much.


  • Our teacher is wonderful – genuine, funny, considerate, patient, non-judgmental, intelligent, talented! She gives personal feedback that makes me feel ok about failing at parts of this, and about doing well!
  • I love the story we came up with about the ham-eating zebra who rescued pigs from slaughter and then helped save them from an intergalactic emperor.
  • I am excited to have new ideas for teaching ESL lessons through these games.
  • I’m so glad I talked with C about linguistics, being a JET, teaching ESL and publishing!! BFF match!
  • It is great to have new things to think and write about after every class.
  • I sense that the cute boy is paying me attention, but I don’t need anything more than that.
  • It feels so good to laugh uproariously at the things people come up with.
  • Stories evolve in such interesting ways. Storytelling is not that hard, but there is a lot to it.
  • Word games are incredibly fun, and I love focusing on both bite-sized linguistic morsels and longer word art like stories.

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