One of my favorite improv games is a rather obscure one called “Scenes Without the Letter___.” You can see an example I did for TikTok here (and if you are on TikTok be sure to click here to see my videos and follow me there!):
When done right, this game is fun, funny, high-energy, and a great way to open a show .
It is also a great demonstration of the idea of “letting the interruption drive your creativity.”
The mechanic of the game is simple (though admittedly quite hard):
When you are about to say a word that has the forbidden letter in it (or after you accidentally use a word that does), try again and use an allowed word.
When this happens, most people get stuck because they had an idea for what they wanted to say but can’t think of an allowed word that will let them continue down that path.
The better, funnier, and more creative way to play this game is to simply say the first word you can think of that doesn’t have the chosen letter in it that will make grammatical sense.
Then - and this is critical - you must let that new, random word drive the direction of the scene or story.
In this video example, that happened when I came up with the idea that wife wanted to kill the man. I had no idea that is where the story would go when I started, but “my wife will kill me” is the first thought I was able to formulate without an ”S.” (Don’t read into that…)
That makes for funny moments and also drives the scene / story into new creative directions. Basically, it’s what makes the game funny and successful.
In the same way, off-stage in the “real” world, when a Ding Moment happens to you, or you are faced with an interruption or change, let that be an opportunity to redirect your focus. Use that as a chance to come up with new ideas, approaches, or even outcomes.
You don’t have to change everything every time - that’s an easy way to be frazzled and scrambled. But take the chance to think, re-think, brainstorm, and try out new things.
This is what people who find opportunity in change and setbacks do. If you want to do the same, give it a try!