One performer will be asked to leave the stage to a place where they cannot hear what is going on. We will endow this performer with three things. 1) a location 2) an object 3) an activity. When the performer comes back on stage the other performers will try and get them to say those exact three things.
This is likely the most common handle that is performed on stage. This can also be used as an exercise, here we will discuss the most generic of endowment games. There are an infinite number of variations and they will be discussed elsewhere. Here we focus on the most basic steps to making an endowment game fun and funny.
The host must execute excellent audience control to set this handle up properly. First the host must make sure that the performer knows what three kinds of things they must guess. In this case location, object and activity. The host must also make sure that the performer cannot hear the audience suggestions and that the audience believes this as well. For newer performers the host should stick handle offers towards ones that are concrete and understandable. For example, subway car versus a black hole or juggling versus writhing with angst. For experienced improvisers zany offers are fair game.
The next step in audience education varies from house to house. They are encouraged to make collective “oohs and aahs” when the performer is close but not correct. They are encouraged to make game buzzer fail noises (“zzzzzzz”) when the performer is drifting away from the goal. And success is met with much rejoicing. Depending on how experienced your audience is this may require some practice.
After this seemingly endless set up the performers set about creating a scene where they will drop hints trying to get the chosen performer to embody their endowments. In this generic endowment example, we will just use the setting of an open scene. There is NO reason to ditch narrative with this handle. In fact, it is easier if a narrative tool is used to lure the chosen performer into saying the endowments. As stated above there are an infinite number of ways to spin the endowment game.
The next goal is for the performers to work on each endowment in order that they were set up. Clear the location before moving on to the object and clear those two before moving on to the activity. It is also nice to have the chosen performer recap for audience and performer enjoyment. In all scenes it is important to leave space for others to act after an offer is given. It is crucial for this handle to work properly Make the chosen performer the center of the scene. Make an offer and let them make an offer in return. Then all the performers must leave space for the audience to respond. The audience will quickly stop “oohing and aahing” if they are talked over. With all these considerations in hand we are ready for an example.
Location: back of a taxi. Object: giant ladle. Activity: singing opera.
- Chosen Performer comes on stage and the scene begins.
- Performer One, “glad you could make it the traffic was terrible.”
- Chosen Performer, “Yes thanks for having me over. I am sweaty from riding my bike to avoid traffic”
- Audience, “oooh.”
- Performer Two, “I love riding in this city but there are no bike lanes and it’s too dangerous.”
- Chosen Performer, “So true. I had to put my bike in an Uber…
- Audience, “OOOOOH!”
- Chosen Performer, “well the Uber was a smart car and there was no room for my bike so I hailed a cab.”
- Audience. “woot woot woot”
- Performer One, “Sounds like a tough trip. Really glad you stuck it out. We don’t call them cabs in this city”
- Chosen Performer, “Yes. I meant a taxi. I love sitting in the passenger seat talking to taxi drivers about bicycling.”
- Audience. “incomprehensible noise laughter”
- Performer Two. “So, you have gotten over your fear of windshields then?”
- Audience interrupts with sniggering realising how exactly the chosen performer must say the endowment.
- Chosen Performer, “True I put my bike in the taxi and I went in the trunk.”
- Audience laughter.
- Host intercedes. Asking audience if that is close enough, they clearly say No.
- Performer Two, “and what about your claustrophobia”
- Chosen Performer, “um. err. I put my bike in the trunk and I sat in the back of the taxi”
- Audience “woot woot”
This process continues until the show ends or the performer has revealed understanding all of the endowments. If the performer is just not getting it more and more obvious hints should be given. Failing with grace and laughter is a key element of this handle. Performers should not show anxiety or stress by playing the game to win. Bewilderment, confusion, and wild risk taking guesses should be in cards, but fear and frustration will negatively impact the audience.
- The chosen performer intentionally drags out guessing the endowment. Even if they have figured it out.
- Endowments are zany and well nigh impossible.
- Completely fake it and make the performer appear like a clairvoyant.
- Crime Scene – Performer is interrogated by police using something (object), somewhere (geographical location) doing something (NOT a crime activity).
- Home Late – Performer is interrogated by parents coming home late doing something (benign activity), somewhere with someone.
- Epic Quest – Performer is on a quest for something, something to complete some activity. Hints given by characters met on the quest.
- Santa Clues – Performer is greedy child trying to get Santa to guess what the child wants, where and how delivered. Elves may help.
- Santa Clause – Reverse of Santa Clues where Santa and elves get the child to guess what they want, where and how delivered.
- Job Interview. – Performer must determine who they are, what the job and what the tool is. Job interview and helpers give clues.
- Confessional – Performer has committed a sin (not a real sin), somewhere with something.
- Repair Shop – Performer is trying to get something repaired, that was imported from somewhere broken somehow.
- Technical Support – Performer does not know what is wrong, with their what or how to fix it.
- Impatient Patient – Patient does not know what they were doing with what or how they got to the clinic.
- Getting the idea. There are an endless supply of endowment games.
- Too many to mention.