In improvisation, it is generally a bad idea to ask questions unless they are placed for a specific purpose in moving the scene forward. Wrongly placed questions can quickly make the scene clumsy and unmanageable. It often makes it impossible to even move the scene forward. Why, then, is there an improv game of only questions? It's funny and it brings awareness to how difficult it is to have improv with questions. Here's how to enjoy a game of "Questions Only" improv.
The first key to playing this game is to establish the rules. You can change and customize according to the needs of your group, as long as you keep the basic foundation of nothing but questions allowed. In this game, you are allowed to only ask questions. In order to link the questions together, you can reply in one short sentence. Then a new question must be asked. That is essential to the humor, purpose, and progress of the game. If you have time, you might want to take your group to check out how "questions only" are sometimes used in performance comedy skits. It's rare, but check out your local improv groups. If you are in a big city, that is much more of a luxury. If not, try performing it in front of your group as an example. That will lead to laughs for sure.
Split everybody into two groups. One person then starts the scene over as a different character but keeps within the same theme as the last.
With the two groups, form dual lines that lead to the stage. One person from each group should take the stage first.
These two taking the stage are the first improv partners. They start a scene where they can speak only in question form. Make sure the first person to ask the question chooses one that suits your purposes. If you are aiming at pure comedy, have them ask a really outrageous question that the receiver can take anywhere, including preferably to an even higher level of outrageousness.
Monitor the game closely. If they break that rule or, if they simply cannot think of additional questions, that person goes to the back of the line. The next person in their line goes up to the stage, and the game should quickly continue. The people at the front of each line then do a scene where they can only speak in the forms of questions. As soon as somebody has trouble continuing the scene, they go to the back of their line and is replaced by the person at the front.
The person who did not break the question game is the "winner" of the scene and continues on until they jam up.
This should continue until all have had the chance to ask, or until time and practical consideration deem you end it early. It's a great way to learn who can really be a survivor in comedy.
Tips & Warnings
- A clean version of this game can be great for middle school and high school students.
- Try to theme your game if possible. Questions only about certain things within a game can make it all that more difficult (and funny).
- It's best to start the game with an open-ended question, then narrow it down to specifics as the humor progresses.
- In most improv, do not ask questions unless they have a certain purpose.
- Don't ask questions that can lead to adult answers and insinuation when performing with a young crowd.
- While this can be great at determining strengths in improv performers, many types of games should be played before determining talent in this area. Some games might bring out the best and worst in players.