Improv (as I’ve learned it) is taught by learning various games, where each game develops a certain skill. Eventually one builds a repertoire of skills and is able to combine a bunch of them and so some impressive stuff.
However, some games I find to be a ton of fun just on their own. (Which is probably because I’m naturally best at them.)
What I also like about the “Because I said so!” game is that if someone asks you about improv, it’s fairly easy to explain the game to them and get them up and running DOING some improv so that they can get a feel for it.
So here’s my understanding/explanation of the improv game “Because I said so!”
The game is played with two people, I’ll call them “Q” and “A”.
Q begins the game by asking A a simple question such as a child would be expected to ask.
A answers the question immediately with any type of answer that they can come up with — real, fake, scientific, poetic — whatever they are inspired to say in the moment.
Q immediately asks them “Why?” just like a child is prone to do.
A again immediately answers. Repeat with Q asking “Why?” again.
If there is even a time where A feels stumped, tired, stressed, or just isn’t having fun anymore, A can simply end the game by saying “Because I said so!”
The overriding goal of partner games is to “make you partner look good” — which means that you take care of your partner and take care of yourself. In this case, for Q this means asking a initial question that is easy to get the ball rolling and then to keep asking “Why?” as soon as A finishes. For A this means answering each “Why?” with the first thing that comes to mind. When it starts to not feel good and fun, A just has to say, “Because I said so.” to cleanly end the interaction.
I think it is easy to get someone without improv experience to do this game because it’s what I think of as a “structured” improv. All the A person has to do is say, “Because…” and then keep talking with whatever comes to mind to finish the sentence.
In Dysfunctional Families, I have a similar structured improv — when asking for a card from another player, it’s required to say, “I’m looking for (name of card) because… (and fill in some reason).” People catch on to this type of construct rather quickly, and yet there is still enough room for creativity that they can pleasantly surprise themselves with the reasons they come up with.
Example of “Because I said so!” in action:
Why is the grass green?
Because it is green with envy.
Because it doesn’t grow tall like the trees.
Because it’s parents were short.
Because they had bad nutrition when they were kids.
Because they didn’t have any money.
Because the factory laid off all the grass.
Because it was focused on the bottom line.
Because profit is king.
Because we live in a capitalist society.
Because I said so!
If you are interested in learning more improv games to spice up your game night (or your life), here’s a few reference links to get you started: