Rolodex: An Improv Essential

“What are five new titles for this post?”

How to Rolodex; Improvodex; 5 Things Connected; All the Ideas; Flippy Paper in My Mind.


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Professional improvists have been using this simple technique to boost their wit for years. In fact, you can watch some of them using it in any outtake on your favorite comedy. Some shows even use Rolodexing as their main form of comedy. Yet, they will flip through some of the fluff that gets weeded out in their mind (don’t worry, I will explain how to find the best answer in a moment). But now is the time for a no hesitation game!
“Speak before you think” is the idea behind this trick.  It gets rid of those silly inhibitions you may have as you are acting out an improvised scene or if you want to spark some life into your dialogue.

How to play the Rolodex warm-up:

  • Have any number of participants stand together in a circle.
  • The leader, Asker, will start by asking a question of five things
    • (i.e. 5 new plants grown in space, 5 terrible pet names, 5 ways to fall down the stairs, etc)
  • The next person, Answerer, must then come up with the five answers as fast as possible.
  • The Answerer immediately becomes the Asker and must give a new question of five for the next participant.
  • Continue this around the circle until everyone has a chance to answer at least once.
Variations:
  • Have the Asker chose a random Answerer
  • Change the number of items
  • Do it while clapping or using instruments to keep a rapid pace
  • If done between two people, take turns going back and forth

“So this is a great way to kill some time on a car ride, but what is the benefit?”

I’m glad you asked for now is the moment we turn five bars of lead into gold.
While answering questions with the Rolodex warm-up, your mind is being conditioned for a plethora of answers to any question or scenario. While performing, this technique is often done in your mind. All you have to do is pick the right answer that offers the most to the scene. Something that will help the others spring the scene forward.
In improvisational acting, you must always give a gift to your partners.
So be sure to try the increasingly popular Improvodex: a brand new invention from the minds who brought you Void Violets, Stew the Lamb, and the Bowling Dive. Available now at comedy shows everywhere.
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