Associations-Pass the Chi

By | February 3, 2019


Free Associations


This warm-up will help us get into the moment, and help us feel easier about being silly.


Free Association is a very common warm up in improv comedy. A free association is when a player associates meaning to something without judgement, censorship or thought. It is quite hard to do. For example a player may be exposed to the word “dog” they may free associate “cat.”

Find the Chi is quite different from other free association warm ups. The cue that the player gives is half a word. The next player must complete the word. For example one player will offer “mmmmmooooooowwww” and the next player would finish with “ssss.” This would become “mouse.” Another example could be “terrrr” followed by “app.” To create the word “trap.”

Find the Chi is most commonly organized in a circle, but any other configurations like Firing Line or Cross Circle should work fine.

There is no correct answer in free association. Some players will repeat associations, or have long pauses. This is a good opportunity to explore why this is happening. It is a teaching moment where the leader can discuss.

  • There is no need to try and be funny.
  • You are in a non-judgmental space.
  • Allow the first thing in your mind to come out.

This warm up helps with listening and commitment. Many players have editors in their head. Learn Improv calls it the headitor. The headitor keeps a player from using the first thought that an offer evokes. Free association should help a player break free form their headitor.

  • None


  • Firing line – one player is hit with many words to free associate
  • Cross Circle – next player to free associate is randomly chosen
  • Milling – Players mill about the room free associating freely
  • Disassociation – Say the opposite of the cue word
  • Rhymes – Freely associate but using rhymes
  • Last Letter – Associate a new word using the last letter of cue word
  • Gibberish – Use gibberish to help free from headitor


The process of free association is credited to Sigmund Fraud