Stand up comedian - improviser - writer
  • The Same Faces' guide to Zip Zap Boing

    Thu 15 Mar 2018  ¬∑  2:01AM
    Everyone's favourite improv warm up! The Same Faces have been playing this since we first started - originally with just the standard three rules - but we've gradually added more and more extra moves to the point where we've now got over a dozen (and we'll doubtless add more in the future), accumulated from the various other groups and players we work with.

    A few people have asked me recently to send them all of the crazy rules we play, and rather than send them individual responses, I though a blog post would be more helpful.

    This is The Same Faces' version of the rules - your group's version may well be different. So...

    Zip Zap Boing is played with all your group's members standing in a circle. It's purely intended to warm up your brain, and encourage eye-contact. Try to play as fast as possible.

    The controlling player says the word "zip", and claps their hands at the person standing directly next to them. You can zip the person on either side, dependent on the direction of the game's movement.

    Say the word "zap", and clap your hands at someone across the circle (anyone not stood to your immediate left or right).
    If you've just been zapped, you CAN'T zap the same person back, but you can zap someone else.

    Say "boing", and hold both hands in the air with clenched fists (like you're holding up a large sheet of rubber). This reverses the direction of any of the above moves (also "Wibble", below), and sends it back to the previous player to make another choice.
    You CAN'T boing a boing - you'd get caught in an infinite loop.


    Say "wibble", and move your hips in a circle (as though using an invisible hula hoop). Wibble skips the next person, so if player 1 says "zip", and player 2 says "wibble", it would skip player 3, and become player 4's turn. You CAN'T wibble after a "zap", because zaps are directionless, meaning it would be unclear who's move is next - potentially, two people would move, and chaos would ensue...


    When it's your move, turn to face the person on either your left or right (ideally continuing the directional flow), say "boomerang", and mime throwing an imaginary boomerang. Everyone else in the circle has to duck, to avoid getting hit by it. When it comes back to you, catch it, and carry on the game with another move.

    Skipping Rope
    Same principle as "Boomerang", except you mime swinging a rope under everyone's feet, and they have to jump over it.

    WooOooWooOooWooOoo (Generic Siren Sound)
    Make a siren noise, hold your hands up in the air and "flash" them, as though they were lights on a police car. Everyone will "run away" and change places in the circle. When settled in the new order, whoever did the siren continues the game with another move.

    It's YOU!
    Whoever's turn it is points at another player and declares, "It's YOU!". They then switch places in the circle, high-fiving in the middle as they go. Whoever "it" was (the player who was pointed at), takes control, and continues the game with another move.

    Kersplat/It's Mine!
    When it's your turn, mime throwing "it" on the floor in the centre of the circle, and shout "kersplat". Another player will then shout "it's mine" - if they're the only player to do so, they can continue the game. If, however, more than one player shouts "it's mine", all of those players have to run around the outside* of the circle, and whoever gets back to their place first, wins (gets to carry on with the game).
    * If you're working in a confined space, run around the inside of the circle - put a chair/stool in the centre so your players have something to run around.


    Tufnell Park
    Named after a London group called "Tufnell Park", who invented the rule. The controlling player says "Tuffnell Park" followed by another word. The next player has to say something that rhymes with that word, and so on around the circle until the players run out of original rhyming words. When that happens, everyone cheers, and the player who couldn't think of a new word continues the game with another move.
    For example: "Tufnell Park, Dead"
    "..." Wahey!
    Generally, the direction of who has to say the first rhyming word is determined by the game's zip-direction, but if receiving off a "zap", it can be helpful for the TP-initiating player to point an indication of which way he means to pass it.

    Where's The Baby?
    The controlling player will ask "Where's the baby?", at which point all the players have to run off to find an imaginary baby (looking under furniture, in cupboards, etc...). Eventually, someone will arbitrarily declare "here is it!" or "I've found the baby", whilst holding up the imaginary baby. Everyone's relieved, and returns to the circle. Whoever found the baby continues the game with another move.

    Panic at the Disco 
    The controlling player declares "panic at the disco!" - everyone has to run off, touch a wall (ideally a section of wall no-one else has touched, if you have that much space), and then return to the circle. Whoever called for panic at the disco then continues the game with another move.

    The controlling player crosses their arms and points in opposite directions (to the people on his/her left & right), declaring "splitter". The players on either side each send a line of zips around the circle (in opposite directions). Eventually those two zip-lines will converge on one player who has to quickly say "zip-zip", while gesturing a zip in each direction. When both zip lines have returned to the original player, that player continues the game with another move.

    Bomb Zip
    The controlling player says "bomb zip". Any other player in the circle can shout "defuse". If they're the only one to do so, the bomb is defused, and that player continues the game.
    If more than one player says "defuse", all of those players are temporarily out (they duck down), and the original player calls "bomb zip" again. Repeat this process until only one player says "defuse".
    If everyone but the original player ends up out, there's no-one left to defuse the bomb, so it goes off! The original player has to mime being an exploding bomb (the other players can support his by pretending to be "blown back" by the explosion. When this process is complete, the original player would continue the game with another move.

    Complete The Name
    The controlling player says any forename. Any other player in the circle has to shout a celebrity's surname that matches that forename - whoever does this first becomes the controlling player, and continues the game with another move.
    E.g. "Brad!"

    If the controlling player says "flamingo" before their move (e.g. "Flamingo Zip!"), everyone has to stand on one leg, until that person becomes the controlling player again.

    We've previously had these rules, but I think they slow the game down, so I've attempted to phase them out.

    The controlling player whispers the word "Waterfall", and the next player will say it slightly louder, and the next player slightly louder again. This continues around the circle, until it gets back to the original player, who continues with a different move.
    Ideally, each time "waterfall" is said it would slightly overlap the previous person - like water gushing over a waterfall...

    Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
    The controlling player will turn to the person directly next to them (following the game's directional flow), tap them on the head and says "Heads". The next person would tap the third player's shoulder, and say "shoulders", and so on and so on with knees and toes. You can stop after that, with the person whose toes were tapped becoming the controlling player, or you can add in the optional "Eyes, nose, mouth, and nose", to complete the nursery rhyme.
    ...this is all rather tedious though.


    I know many groups who like to play the Eastenders version of the game, but no-one seems to agree on the wording for these. Essentially, you change the moves' words to catchphrases from Albert Square.
    The only one I can remember off the top of my head is that "Boing" becomes "Leave it out!".

    Genre Adaption
    Once you've warmed up, have the group pick a genre. Then play the game, but whenever a rule is used for the first time, the controlling player who uses it has to provide a relevant phrase to replace the original name of that rule.
    For example, in a Western version, "Zap" often becomes "Reach for the sky!", "Boomerang" becomes "Lasso!", and "Panic at the Disco" becomes "This town ain't big enough for the both of us."

    - - -

    I'm sure I've forgotten a rule or two, but I'm sure my group's members will remind me in due course, if I have. Hope you find this useful!