The Freeze Game is a popular game in improv shows, often used as a high-energy end to a set.

A group of players – usually between 4 and 10 – lines up at the back of the stage. Two people, A and B, come forward, ask the audience for a suggestion for an activity, then perform an activity, emphasizing interesting movements. The players in the background are outside the scene. They watch the activity but keep still.

A delivers a line. B responds – ideally with something funny. As soon as they strike an interesting new position, one of the players lined up in the background will shout freeze. A player from the back will then tag out one of the players onstage, and replace them on stage, in the same frozen position. A new scene then starts, where the player justifies the position in a new way.

Here’s how it might go in practice.

A and B ask for activity. “Knitting!” shouts an audience member. They start knitting, pretending to be old ladies.

A: Do you think Jack is too old for baby booties?

B: Oh, no – 45 isn’t old.

From the back, C yells “Freeze!” The players pause their activity, still holding mimed knitting needles, and C runs forward, checks the position of A, and taps A on the back. C takes A’s position, and A goes to the lineup at the back.

C uses the position to mime eating with a knife and fork.

C: This steak is tough.

B puts his hands on his hips.

B: You’re eating the placemat.

A grimaces.

From the back, D yells “Freeze!” The players freeze in position. D tags out A. C now uses the hands-on-hips position to accuse D.

C: You have been sleeping with my wife. Now I will have to shoot you.

C draws a gun.

D: Could you give me another half hour with your wife first?

And so on.

When you tag a person out, shout “Freeze!”. Really – shout it. If you just say

“Freeze” the players may not hear you. Don’t move as you shout – it looks messy. First shout, then, the moment the players have frozen their position, move quickly to replace one of them.

Check their position from the front, then tap the player on the back and take exactly the same position. The scene then resumes.

A Freeze game should go fast. One players delivers a line justifying the position in a new way. The other player responds, hopefully with a witty or surprising comeback.

A and B each have an arm raised. A turns it into a wave.

A: Goodbye, mom!

B: We’ll see you again when you get back from bombing Hamburg!

If you’re the first person to speak, avoid lines which control the other person. Instead, focus on justifying your own position.

Try to avoid lines which control the other person.