1.8 – More Hey Everybody Games


“Hey Everybody” initiations can lead to some pretty stilted scenes wherein the initiator forces the role of facilitator. If you’ve seen improvisational performance, you’ve seen these scenes.

“Ladies and gentlemen, [important person] is ready for your questions.”
“I gathered you all here today because…”
“Class! Class, pay attention (to me).”

Players rush out on stage to support the initiation, but compose themselves in deference to the initiator. Play follows this pattern: Player One to Player Two to Player One to Player Three to Player One to Player Four to Player One to Player Five to Player One to…

Admittedly, these can be funny games. A classic warm-up exercise highlights this…
We need a product.
[Alarm clock]
What can that product do that no other product in its line can?
[The alarm clock actually shocks you out of bed]
What’s our product’s slogan?
[Get yeee(electric-shock-noise)eeer ass up.]

But most often these “Hey Everybody” initiations devolve into a call-and-response joke mechanism that serves to highlight how funny an individual can be as opposed to how funny a group collaboratively building a scene together is.

I worked with an improviser we used to tease for his propensity to initiate scenes saying, “People, people.” He would inevitably establish a press conference that he facilitated – though often as the proxy for the person of interest rather than that person himself. On his last night before he moved on (to great things; he’s a great guy; he knows who he is), our group presented him with a podium that he could take with him for future “People, people” scenes.

We made fun of our friend and fellow improviser. But we did have fun in those scenes. He was funny and he could sustain them. But we had our most fun when we built the scenes as a group.

Player One – People, people, the PTA President is ready for your questions. Yes, you?
Player Two – Paul Champion, Neighborhood Insider. Madam President, how do you respond to allegations that you embezzled from the can food drive?
Player Three – Paul Champion? It’s me, Pam Superion. When did you start working the PTA desk?
Player Four – Madam President, is it true your basement is full of canned corn?
Player Five – Pete Best, wait your turn.
Player Six – Is Madam President a hoarder?
Player Seven – I am not a whore!

Rather than wait to be directed like an orchestra, the group took matters into their own hands and set up a sequence of reactions. Sure, this zig zagging reactions sequence invited the potential for chaos, but we knew we could keep the game focused through Hey Everybody pattern mechanics.

The Offer pass is defined by the sequence of reactions between players. The initiator facilitates the establishment of the Set pass by restarting the pattern.

Player One – People, people, let’s focus on the issues. Who has a serious question?
Player Two – I do. Paul Champion, Neighborhood Insider. Pam, what are you doing here?
Player Three – Newspaper’s shrinking, Paul. I now cover the PTA, CIA, and NWA.
Player Four – Madam President, the people need their corn.
Player Five – When is it my turn?
Player Six – Will the President show us her cans?
Player Seven – I am not a whore!

The Set pass seeks to clarify the sequence of players’ contributions. In addition, each player uses their moment in the pattern to heighten the progression of their individual personal game.

The initiator facilitates the game by ensuring the pattern restarts, but s/he should not dictate the pattern’s sequence. As a character, the frustrated facilitator may demand that the group pay him attention, but, as an improviser, the facilitator wants to be able to heighten his frustration so he needs the group to heighten – not give up on – what they’re doing.

A facilitator can help each pass by giving players a topic they can choose to respond to through the filter of their personal games. But s/he doesn’t want to direct discussion around that topic. The key is allowing the other players to choose how they react.

Good example:
We’re here to discuss peas.
I love peas.
Man, fuck the police.

Bad example:
Who likes peas? Nathan?
I love peas.
Great, who else likes peas?

But, even if the facilitator is trying to dictate the scene, remember that the group can overthrow the dictation through reactions.

Bad example gone good:
Who likes peas? Nathan?
I love peas.
I love Nathan.
Oooh, Sue loves Nathan.
She wants to kiss him.
She wants his peaness.
That’s enough, children. Let’s move on. Who likes melons? Megan?

Player Three’s reaction to “Nathan” instead of “peas” breaks the game out of the structure as defined by the initiation. But Hey Everybody group dynamics refocus the group into a collaboratively built pattern. The initiator’s job now is to set up a second pass of the pattern through which each individual heightens their personal game.

If in the initiating pass any one player asserts themselves over a greater share of the focus, a Hey Everybody game pattern keeps the group cohesive. If in the initiating pass the sequence of contributions goes Player One, Player Two, Player One, Player Three, Player Four, Player One, Player Four, Player Five…then….the Set pass should seek to repeat that sequence.

Through the Hey Everybody group game, we can focus cohesion from disparate parts. An individual can make bold moves trusting the group to fold any new information into the pattern of contributions.

Whether we’re focusing a group’s chaos, or asserting collaborative building over any individual dictator, Hey Everybody game mechanics are a valuable piece of our toolkit.

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4 thoughts on “1.8 – More Hey Everybody Games

  1. Pingback: Zoom In On Patterns & Games - The Gathering ATL

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  3. Pingback: Call & Response Hey Everybody group game | Improv As Improv Does Best

  4. Pingback: 1.7 – Hey Everybody Games | Improv As Improv Does Best

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