Improv Game: Surprise Guests

Actors playing an improv game

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Guess who's coming to dinner? The Surprise Guest improv game is played by four people, with the assistance of the rest of the audience in suggesting amusing identities for the guests. Three performers will act out the roles of guests and a Host will try to guess what those roles are.

This improv game can be used as a light-hearted drama exercise or a theatrical party activity. It works well in a classroom situation. It can also be used as a party game if your social circle includes those who enjoy improv activities. The three guests and the Host get to exercise their improv skills while the audience can enjoy their antics.

The game takes less than 10 minutes to set up and perform, making it a fun ice-breaker activity for a group or party.

Set up for Surprise Guests

  • One person volunteers to play the Host role.
  • The Host leaves the room.
  • Three performers serve as the Surprise Guests.
  • Each Surprise Guest asks the audience, "Who am I?" The audience comes up with a role for each of them to play.
  • As with any improv game, encourage the audience to generate creative suggestions; the more outlandish the better.


  • Guest #1: An astronaut with a severe fear of heights
  • Guest #2: An over-worked and surly elf from Santa's toy shop
  • Guest #3: A drunken Queen Elizabeth

The Rules

Once the Guests have been established, the Host returns and the improv game begins.

First, the Host pantomimes getting ready for the party, then Guest #1 "knocks" on the door. The Host lets him/her inside and they begin to interact. A new Guest will arrive in about 60 seconds so that in a very quick amount of time the Host will be interacting with three different guest characters.

The Host wants to figure out the identity of each Guest. However, this isn't just a guessing game. The Guests should offer discreet clues that become more and more obvious as the improv game continues. The main point of the activity is to generate humor and to develop quirky, unusual characters.

Have fun! And remember, this and any other explanation of an improv game is just a blueprint. Feel free to add your own style to make it work best for your drama classroom, theater troupe, or improv party.


You may need to prompt the audience to get good suggested roles for the guests. Use the three suggestions so they understand that the guests need to have a strong emotional element to their character. The game won't be as fun if they are simply impersonating a celebrity or acting out a typical profession.

The combinations should be a little surprising or out-of-character. This will give the guests the best cues to play with and points they can hit for jokes and humor. The purpose is to have fun rather than to stump the host, so the zanier the combinations, the better.