Games – Electric Company

By Randall | Games for Workshop
27 Jan 2012

Electric Company is a word association game, named for the 1971 television series and parodied in this Nike Shox commercial.

While in a circle, the group snaps to a steady beat. The first person starts by making eye contact with the person on their right or left and saying a word. That person then responds by saying the first word that comes to mind. The group then says both words all together, followed by “duh do do!” The second person turns to the next person and the pattern continues. Ideally, each cycle would take four beats (first word, second word, both words, duh do do), but it’s okay if beginners take a few extra beats.


This is a great game to help connect the group and get your mental juices flowing. The most important part is to try to stay on the beat and not worry about whether your word makes sense. With practice, the words will make sense more and more often.

Your mind is full of all kinds of unique associations built from your one of a kind life-experience. Learning to accept ideas as they come and not block them or think they aren’t good enough (which society conditions you to do) is a skill that this game helps develop, and one that will be indispensable as you learn improv.

Furthermore, as you condition yourself to quickly make and accept associations, you will notice that your scenes will also move more smoothly as you discover responses to your scene partner’s offers more naturally and quickly.

Finally, everyone will make mistakes, and this game is great practice for accepting and celebrating mistakes, one of the cornerstones of improv.

Variation 1: Pass something around the circle

If your group is very successful at Electric company, try tossing something around the circle that is soft and easy to catch, like a stuffed animal. This gives you something else to focus on, and helps build up the multi-tasking skills that are necessary in many improv scenes.

Variation 2: Start and end on the same word

Whatever the first word was that started off the game, try to get back to that word. This is tricky to do correctly and organically without feeling like it was forced or too abrupt. Only play this version with an experienced troupe or upper level students who are committed to group mind.

Tips for success

We play this game a lot. It is part of our warm-up routine for almost any workshop or show. The following tips can help new improvisers learn the game, or anyone play the game more effectively.

  • Open yourself up to your two partners.
  • Make eye contact and connect. Imagine that something is being physically passed between your eyes.
  • Don’t wait to look at your partner until you have something to say. If you are receiving or transmitting, you should be looking into the other person’s eyes throughout the exchange.
  • Clear your mind, try not to think.
  • Don’t plan ahead what you will say as the words are moving around the circle. When people plan ahead, it breaks the continuity of the associations.
  • Do not pass judgement on anything you say.
  • When responding, just say the first association that comes to your mind. If you are open and focused, it will connect. If not, you will say words like “now” a lot.
  • When initiating, a lot of beginners fall into the trap of saying something that they see. Words like face, nose, teeth, shirt, pocket, button, and hair are really common, as they feel pressure to just say anything. However, there is actually quite a bit of time between when you respond and when you have to say a new word, since the group repeats what was just said and also goes “duh do do!” So in those extra few seconds, just pick any word that you would associate with the word your partner just said, or your response. For instance:

Player 1: Ski

Player 2: Ball

Everyone: Skiball, duh do do

Player 2 could then say anything they associate with skiing (cold, mountain, slope, poles, toboggan, gloves, fire, lodge, etc) OR the game skeeball (arcade, teenager, ticket, prize, roll, ramp, win, fun, etc).

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One Comment

  1. […] point of the activity is that two people were able to work together to create something new. “Yes, and…” allows the company to make that happen on a bigger scale. Think about what your […]

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