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This exercise is played with two players.


  • Player 1 begins miming some action.
  • Player 2 shouts, "What are you doing?"
  • Player 1 responds with some action other than that which he or she is miming.
  • Player 1 stops performing the action and watches Player 2 perform whatever action Player 1 suggested.
  • After several seconds (just long enough for Player 2 to establish the action he or she is performing), Player 1 shouts, "What are you doing?"
  • Player 2 responds with some action other than that which he or she is miming.
  • Player 2 stops, and Player 1 performs this action.
  • Repeat.


Don't be funny

 "What are you doing?" should be shouted loudly and clearly. 

It should sound more like a command than a question: WHATAREYOUDOING! The purpose of this game is not to make a joke of the question ("So, uh, what are yooooooou doin'?"), nor is it to be funny. It is meant to train quick thought and action.

Action suggestions should be stated loudly, clearly, and directly. Do not say, "I'm... baking a cake." Skip directly to the verb. "Baking a cake!"

Use of sound and environment is highly encouraged.

Makes actions with a lot of activity and alternates them with slow actions. Play with the rhythm. Surprise your teammate.

Start immediately

It is important to start immediately with the new action. For example, when you brush your teeth, you don't open the tube first and smear toothpaste on the toothbrush, but start immediately. No preparatory actions should be taken to delay or prepare for the start of the actual action.

Players may find it helpful to go down the alphabet when giving suggestions for actions. (Advancing aardvarks, Baking a cake, etc.)


The exercise can also be done with several players. The action does not switch back and forth between two players, but you form a circle and the action always moves one person forward. But this is rather a preliminary exercise to the Variant with two players. Players have the ability to plan ahead, which is much more difficult with the two-person variant.

Video example from youtube

Improv Warm-Ups: Improv Warm-Ups: "What Are You Doing" Game


What is the "what are you doing" game? Learn about the rules of improv in this free video on theatre acting tips and techniques. Expert: Jayne Entwistel Contact: Bio: Jayne Entwistle is a professional actress and improviser who founded and directed the Improv troupe, Big City Improv. She has been directing, performing and teaching improv for over fifteen years. Filmmaker: Nili Nathan

Learn how to do stand up comedy with different improvisational games like the "What are you doing game?" in this free video. Get improve comedy techniques from a comedian. Expert: Les McGehee Bio: Les McGehee is a working, award-winning comedian and improvisation pioneer, who has entertained and trained millions of people throughout the US and the world for 20 years. Filmmaker: Todd Sapio
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last update: 2020-04-19
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