Ohhhh Noooo!

Published by ShawnKinley on

Ohhh Noooo!
The Game

There’s a scene in an old Simpson episode where Homer is falling down a cliff. The onlookers gasp in terror UNTIL he is saved by a tree and all are relieved UNTIL the branch that caught him breaks and everyone screams in fear UNTIL he lands in the water below and they are all relieved UNTIL… the alligators.

You get the idea.

This reminded me of Keith Johnstone’s concept of true risk taking. Where most improvisers mistakenly think that a risk would be doing a backwards scene, in Opera, while balancing porcupines… naked.

That’s no Risk in narrative improvisation.

A risk would be to allow yourself to have a STRONG emotional outburst in the middle of a scene and then justifying it AFTER instead of thinking what you might do with the choice before you do it. 
Have the emotion. Justify it later.

GAME: Ohhh Noooo!!!

ORIGIN: Shawn Kinley


  • Blind emotional risk taking,
  • Group support,
  • Justification,
  • Advancing ideas

# PEOPLE: Groups – 3 or more (could be played with 2 but better with more)

GOAL: Create a story with a group by making large emotional reactions without knowing what the emotion means before justifying it.


  1. Three or more improvisers stand on stage looking in the same direction. 
  2. One improviser reacts strongly to a dramatic event in the distance
    – With wide-eyed panic, Sharon points and gasps
  3. All the improvisers take on the same emotion, supporting the person who initiated the offer.
    – They become a chorus of panicking, pointing people.
  4. One of the improvisers justifies what they are seeing.
    – Lee says, “OH NOOO!!! That hiker just fell from that cliff!!”
  5. Another improviser changes the emotion to anything opposite of the state they are in.
    – Sara, with relieved surprise is smiling and clapping her hands
  6. As happened earlier, everyone quickly adapts to the emotional offer
    – They all reflect Sara’s joy. Hugging and cheering
  7. Another improviser justifies the emotional change by defining what just happened
    – Lee-Ann says “Ohhh that tree branch caught on his backpack! He’s saved!
  8. REPEAT the above steps with alternating emotions.
    – Someone screams in fear – they all are fearful
    – Justifification: “OH NO!! That massive snake is crawling out onto the branch
    Someone Laughs – They all laugh!
    – Justification :- He grabbed the snake’s tail and he’s lowering himself down
    – Horrified screams from the group
    – Justification: – OH NOOO!! The Alligators below are moving in on him!

    etc etc…



Encourage quick reactions to the emotional change. The Improvisers should appear to react at once to the imagined event unfolding in front of them. (They all seem to recoil from the explosion together as opposed to one person reacting and the others following many seconds later or not reacting at all). If they aren’t paying attention to each other or they aren’t willing to adapt to their partner’s offer, it won’t work.

Related to the last note, it’s much nicer if they huddle close to each other and visually look in the same direction.  This doesn’t mean that the direction they’re looking can’t change, but everyone should look to the new direction.

This is similar to a Greek chorus that amplifies the emotion of the main actor. If everyone is minimizing the emotion of the person making the offer, that person will be left unsupported. Add a little more than the initial person creates.


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