Improv 101 — Blind Line

Blind Line is one of my all time favorite games, but unfortunately this one requires a little prep work. The premise is simple, so let’s jump right in.

This is a scene game for four people, and the caveat to this game is that everybody has a few strips of paper they keep in their pocket. On these strips is written famous lines from movies, books, you name it. At any point during the scene, an actor can pause, pull out one of these strips, read it, and then explain why they said it. It’s funny when two characters are established as being father and son, and one of them yells “You shall not pass!” and then has to find a way to make that line make sense in the context of the scene. For example, if the person that said it was a teacher, it takes the funny context of being said in regards to a test or a class.

That’s the whole game, but there’s a lot of things improvisers need to keep in mind in order to make this game shine. First, the improvisers will usually only have three, four strips max. These are often suggestions given by the audience (pre-read by the ref or a trusted volunteer to make sure they’re appropriate, of course,) and they want to see you take these suggestions and go with them! You don’t have to use every line (and in fact, you should use your strips conservatively) but you can’t just pretend that you didn’t say something that made no sense, or throw it away by saying “Oh ignore that last part, I was talking to the voice in my head” or something like that. Never take a cop-out solution in improv unless its absolutely necessary.

On top of that, you can set yourself an easy justification by saying “It’s just as my grandpa always says: ‘reads strip’.” That’s also a cop-out, because you just told the people in the scene that you’re going to say something weird. It’s way funnier if the line makes no sense (or, as the circumstance occasionally happens, makes perfect sense and is amazingly funny). On that same note, don’t walk on stage and immediately say your line. Since you have no character, that is again easy justification. Trust me, it’s more fun if you don’t give yourself easy outs, and you don’t learn anything if you do it that way.

In my experience, about half the time you play this game will lead to some amazing coincidences. In one game we were playing, a character converted to Christianity after being Jewish (I can’t remember the specifics), and then they pulled out a strip and said “Jesus take the wheel!” Obviously, it wasn’t planned at all, but its perfect moments like that that you remember years later. So, trust yourself to be funny. This game, unfortunately, can only be played when you have an audience to give suggestions (though as a ref you can look up “famous movie quotes” and pitch them to your improvisers when they call “Line!”, but this is a sub-par solution). Because the lines are hard to get, Blind Line must be played sparingly, but its always a blast so don’t hesitate to play when you have the opportunity.

2 thoughts on “Improv 101 — Blind Line

  1. I’m going to try SO HARD to remember to write “Oh ignore that last part, I was talking to the voice in my head” on a strip if I get the opportunity.

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