One performer will be asked to leave the stage to a place where they cannot hear what is going on. We will charge this performer with an unusual criminal act. The crime takes place at a specific location, using a non-violent object, and an activity that is not considered a crime. The criminal will be interrogated by the local constabulary.
Crime Scene endowment is a very common version of this structure. It is included here to avoid nasty emails.
The host must execute excellent audience control to set this handle up properly. First they must make sure that accused knows what three elements are involved in the crime. 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 it is important that the host stick handle offers 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 cries of “guilty.” Depending on how experienced your audience is this may require some practice.
After this seemingly endless set up the accused criminal is brought in for a corny movie type interrogation. It could involve a chair, a bright light and a tape recorder. There is NO reason to ditch narrative with this handle. In fact, the thing works best if the accused makes strong choices about a narrative of the crime.
The next goal is for the detectives 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 accused 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 accused 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.
Location: back of a taxi. Object: pool noodle. Crime: singing opera.
- Accused comes on stage and the scene begins.
- Detective One, “Thought you could getaway easy huh?”
- Accused, “I used a getaway bicycle to avoid traffic”
- Audience, “oooh.”
- Detective Two, “You’re a hardened criminal but riding in this city is too dangerous.”
- Accused, “Yah got me. I used an Uber…
- Audience, “OOOOOH!”
- Accused, “well the Uber was a smart car and there was no room for my bike so I hailed a cab.”
- Audience. “woot woot woot”
- Detective One, “You aren’t from around here buster. We don’t call them cabs in this city”
- Accused, “Yes. I meant a taxi. I was sitting in the front giving the driver directions.”
- Audience. “incomprehensible noise laughter”
- Detective Two. “Forensic profile says you have a fear of windshields.”
- Audience interrupts with sniggering realising how exactly the Accused must say the endowment.
- Accused, “Correct. 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.
- Detective Two, “Forensics says your claustrophobic from that tunnel escape in the 90s”
- Accused, “um. err. My bike was in the trunk and I sat in the back of the taxi”
- Audience “woot woot”
This process continues until the show ends or the accused confesses to their unusual crime. 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 accused gets it early and drags things out.
- Endowments are zany and well nigh impossible.
- 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 is an endless supply of endowment games.
- Too many to mention.