Student Engagement

The Point of this Game

Material Needed: None
Time Required: 10 minutes
Group Size:  2-50
Purpose: Creative problem solving, speaking skills, dealing with change, team building

Suggested Introduction:
(Hold up you hands as if carrying a cardboard box approximately 2' x 2' x 2' in size). "I am holding in my hands a box that doesn't exist. Can everyone see it? [look serious; your learners will undoubtedly nod. Ask one:] How big is it? [No matter what the answer, say:] That's right. Everyone agrees? [Comedy note: if your learner said the box was either very large or very small, adjust yourself physically to look like someone holding a box of that size.] This is a magic box. And in a moment, you will be surprised to find that half of you have just such a box under your chair. Let's see which of you do." [ Mime tossing the box away, and begin the game].

  1. Divide your learners into pairs, and have them decide who will be Person A and who will be Person B

  2. Person A will hold out the "box" for Person B and they say, "Hello, Partner, tell me what funny things are in this box?"

  3. Person B must immediately reach in and pull out an imaginary object, and name it. That's it. There are no wrong answers; there's just one hitch: It must be funny. Maybe it's a pink chicken: maybe a written plan for taking over the world with oven fork; maybe a hairy, nude CEO lolling in a hot tub (this is after all a magic box- dimensions are meaningless). Person B must keep drawing funny things out of the box one after the other, as quickly as possible until her or his brain fries. This will probably happen quickly. When it does Person B should stop at once.

  4. Now Person B gets to take the box out of Person A's hands and sweetly say, "Your turn." And so it is. Person A now pulls witty, hilarious things out of the box, as quickly as possible, till his or her own brain fries.

  5. Both partners take a nice refreshing drink of water.

  6. Person A again holds out the box to the partner but this time says: "Hello partner. What banal, boring and unfunny things are in this box? Repeat the process with each partner naming items until their brains fry (usually 1 to 3 minutes).

Debrief/ Discussion Questions:

  1. What differences did you notice between the first time, when you were trying to be funny, and the second round when you were trying to be unfunny? Which round was easier to do? When did you have most of your ideas?

  2. During the second round, when you were trying to be funny, did one or two funny ideas still manage to slip through? (note: this will have happened with at least some of your learners. Invite them to share these ideas with the class. The remind learners that if unplanned funny stuff can pop out in a 1-2 minute exercise, it will certainly show up in a training schedule).

  3. What were you thinking during the first round when the pressure was on to be funny?

  4. What is likely to happen if you stand in front of a group with the same internal pressure to be funny?

Tamblyn, D., Weiss, S. (2000). The Big Book of Humorous Training Games. New York, NY: McGraw- Hill. Pg. 3-5

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