Improv Games: The Expert Interview

In “The Expert Interview,” a performer acts as an expert on some topic. The audience then asks them any question they want on that topic, and the expert must answer immediately, without hesitation, and with confidence (i.e. as if he were the expert…)

Purpose

The purpose of this exercise is to tap your creative flow while starting to direct it and control it.

Summary

In this exercise you will be an expert on some topic and you will then answer questions on that topic in a way that really taps your creativity.

How to Play

In this game you will be an expert and your partner will ask you questions. The first thing is that you need an area of expertise. Have your partners assign you an area of expertise, and it should be something pretty basic, but nothing you would normally find an expert on, such as Quantum Physics. Suggest anything day-to-day such as bird watching, furniture, or fruit. The game will be easier if the suggestion is less crazy.

Once you establish your topic, your partners should begin asking you questions as if you were the expert. They should push you, asking questions that are open-ended. Questions should start with, “How” or “Why.” “Yes/No” questions should be avoided because it is easy to get off the hook with those. Your partners may ask you to tell them stories about things or make up weird questions that don’t seem to make a lot of sense and you’ll have to make sense of them. For example, once I was asked as a school bus expert, “Why is it that when UFO’s come they always steel school busses?”

The goal of the questions is not to be funny. When the question is asked your job as the expert is to answer the question, but your objective should be to answer fast, immediately, and without hesitation.

Do this for a while, answer five or ten questions and just see where it leads you to.

Improv Tips and Things to Remember

As in all things creative, the key to this exercise is speed. Answer the questions immediately and without hesitating. Novice improvisers will take a second upon hearing the question and pause to think about something to say. The instant they do that, it’s over because they have shut off their creativity and turned things over to the conscious mind. Your goal is to tap your creativity and just flow. Open your mouth and start talking, even if you’re not exactly sure where your answer will lead.

Don’t use stall tactics. Sometimes when a question comes in someone will stall by repeating the question or by saying something such as, “That’s an interesting question, I am glad you asked that. I actually had that question last week.” This is a stall to try to think for a few seconds.

Don’t evaluate your ideas as they come out, because sometimes you will start to say something that you think is stupid, but you have to just go with it.

This is a great exercise in confidence as well. You should project confidence. When you do this exercise, don’t hesitate, even if you are saying something stupid. Act as if your answer is 100% correct.. Stand up straight so it is not just your voice, but your body language that is projecting that confidence as well.

You must remember that your mind gives you these ideas for a reason. If your rapid fire answer starts out with something goofy, don’t be afraid of it. Instead, realize that your mind gave you that answer for a reason. Just keep talking and see where it leads you to. You know you’re doing this game right when you start surprising yourself with answers. This is a great exercise in being quick witted and thinking fast on your feet because you realize that if you trust yourself you can really come up with some creative ideas.

Improv Lessons

By playing this game, you will learn how to quickly and easily tap into your creativity. By simply saying the first thing that comes to your mind and speaking fast, you will be bypassing the critical conscious part of your mind.

Your goal should be to apply this same mindset when you are doing any kind of brainstorming or other creative activity. When brainstorming, keep the ideas flowing out of you. Do not hesitate or pause to think about or evaluate the ideas – that comes later.

Similarly, if you are working on a document, try to write fast and just get the ideas out on the paper (or screen). You can always go back and edit what you have written. If you allow yourself to get into a creative flow, you will really start generating some interesting ideas very quickly.

Here’s an example along with some more instruction:

(see more videos)

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