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I Need Some Relationship Suggestions
January 17, 2013 12:42 PM   Subscribe

I teach an improv workshop from time to time, and one of the most popular games that I created is "Dysfunctional Relationships."

What this involves is a set of cards, each with a type of simple interpersonal relationship on it. For example, here are some relationships that might be on the cards:

Pet/Owner
Celebrity/Sycophant
Manager/Employee
Patient/Therapist
God/Devil
Siblings
Rebel/Dictator
Conservative/Liberal


To play the game, two actors come on stage and each draw one relationship card which they look at and show to the audience (but not each other). They then begin a scene where they have to create a relationship similar to what is on their card, but without negating anything the other actor says. This usually results in hybrid scenes about hilarious dysfunctional relationships. For example, if one person draws the "Pet/Owner" card and the other person draws the "Manager/Employee" card, you get a scene like:

"You're late again! This is the third time this week!"
"I'm sorry, I got distracted when I passed several fire hydrants on my way here, and I had to stop to pee on them."
"Yes, HR has told me about your unique disability, but you still have to understand that your productivity is really under par. This company has expectations of you."
"Sir, I understand that. If I might offer a suggestion, maybe my productivity would improve if you took me out on walks and petted me more often."
Etc.

Anyway, my problem is that I lost my relationship cards recently. It took me a really long time to come up with that list, especially since I had to carefully cull options that would result in relationships that might be disturbing and unfunny to the audience. (For example, the "parent/child" and "grandparent/grandchild" cards were removed after a painful scene where the two actors drew both of them at the same time.) It would be a real pain to think up an entire new set of relationship ideas by myself, so I'm hoping that the hive-mind can help me come up with potential interpersonal relationships so that I can make up a whole new set of cards.
posted by wolfdreams01 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Actor/Director
Doctor/Nurse
Golfer/Caddy
Detective/Suspect
Waiter/Diner (or Chef)
Bartender/Patron
Politician/Voter
posted by yellowbinder at 12:47 PM on January 17, 2013


Driver/Passenger
Writer/Editor
Artist/Critic
Server/Diner
Director/Actor
Cop/Criminal
Attorney/Client
Salesperson/Shopper
posted by juliplease at 12:48 PM on January 17, 2013


Teacher/Student
Jailer/Prisoner
Monarch/Jester
Mad Scientist/Scientist's Creature
Predator/Prey
Bartender/Drunk
Priest/Demon
Anthropomorphized Immune System/Anthropomorphized Virus

Are these along the lines of what you're looking for?
posted by ocherdraco at 12:49 PM on January 17, 2013


I. Love. This.

Hairdresser/Client
Conductor/Musician
Checkout person in the grocery store/Customer
Person/Their conscience
Superhero/Villain
Coach/Athlete
posted by the_blizz at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2013


Are these along the lines of what you're looking for?

Yes - exactly. Please keep them coming!
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2013


Doctor/Patient
Hiring manager/Applicant
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:57 PM on January 17, 2013


Landlord/tenant
Farmer/cow
posted by knile at 1:08 PM on January 17, 2013


Call Center/Customer
Help Desk/User
Magician/Assistant
Barister/Coffee Snob
posted by Pineapplicious at 1:12 PM on January 17, 2013


Barista/customer
Plumber/homeowner
Parasite/host
Hitchhiker/driver
Superhero/sidekick
Detective/suspect
posted by deludingmyself at 1:14 PM on January 17, 2013


cat/mouse
minister/parishioner
actor/fan
reporter/celebrity
author/interviewer
train conductor/commuter
cop/person pulled over for traffic violation
maid/boss
nanny/kids
plumber/client
stripper/customer
bartender/barfly
drug-dealer/buyer
posted by bunderful at 1:16 PM on January 17, 2013


Does this ever happen in NYC? Because I would love to see it.
posted by bunderful at 1:16 PM on January 17, 2013


Does this ever happen in NYC? Because I would love to see it.

Unlike most improv games, this is not an adaptation of an existing exercise - I designed it myself from scratch, and as far as I know no other place uses this technique, though you're certainly welcome to adopt it if you like.

If you do so, one thing that I didn't mention about the game (because it was not germane to the question) is that the characters cannot directly state what their relationship is, and at the end of the scene the actors each have to guess what relationship is on the other person's card. This forces them to develop good listening skills in order to try to decipher what sort of social dynamic the other person is conveying.

Alternatively, if you are visiting Boston at some point for an extended period, you're welcome to memail me and I can arrange for you to stop by and jam with my group.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:31 PM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Forum Moderator/Forum Poster
Dog/Flea
Jailer/Prisoner
Person taking take out order/Person making take out order
Mechanic/Car Owner
Security Person/Famous Person
Accountant/Client
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2013


Stealing shamelessly my favorite suggestion from my college improv days:

Nun/Mother Superior.
posted by eugenen at 1:57 PM on January 17, 2013


Paparazzi/Celebrity
Security Detail/President of the United States
Doctor/Patient (or more specific, like Cardiologist/Heart Patient)
Wife in Labor/Panicked husband

How crazy can we get with this?!

Dragon/Knight
Hunter/Deer
Hound Dog/Squirrel! or Cat/Mouse
Alien (the extraterrestrial kind)/Scientist
Druglord/Undercover cop
Politician/Intern
Cougar/Boy Toy
Sugar Daddy/Bimbette
Pimp/Ho

I have to stop now, this is too much fun!
posted by misha at 2:16 PM on January 17, 2013


model/agent
game show host/contestant
artist/muse
superhero/sidekick
posted by to recite so charmingly at 2:22 PM on January 17, 2013


chuck norris/bruce lee
misogynist/feminist
rockstar/manager
baby/baby
detective/femme fatale
alien/xenophobe
psychiatrist/patient
designer/model
vegan/butcher (also father)
author/editor
posted by dinosaurprincess at 2:36 PM on January 17, 2013


baby/baby

This one is genius.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:47 PM on January 17, 2013


Ventriloquist/dummy
Porn star/porn movie director
Prostiture/client (or police)
Chicken/egg

I see a lot of them have have power imbalances; is that what you want (easier for beginners) or do you want more equal relationships that are a bit more nuanced or symbiotic?

Spouse/spouce's OTHER partner
Older sibling/younger sibling
posted by saucysault at 4:12 PM on January 17, 2013


Dowser/ Drought stricken farmer
Interior designer/Wanna be sophisticate
Wedding Planner/Bride to be with unrealistic expectations
Grifter/Mother Teresa
Homeless person/Chamber of commerce promoter
Welcome wagon lady/illicit business in the basement homeowner
posted by cat_link at 4:20 PM on January 17, 2013


Football player/referee
Motorist/pedestrian
Guru/apprentice
Cat/veterinarian
Psychic/skeptic
Evangelist/atheist
Jock/geek
Child/babysitter
Environmentalist/oil executive
City dweller/tourist
TSA agent/traveler
Bouncer/person with fake ID
Overnight guest/host
Roommate/roommate
Vegetarian/meat eater
Morning person/late sleeper
Spy/spy
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 PM on January 17, 2013


Used car salesman/potential customer
DMV employee/DMV client (or any bureaucratic office, really)
Driver's test giver/student taking the test
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:23 PM on January 17, 2013


god/atheist?
posted by crunchysalty at 7:58 PM on January 17, 2013


Narcissist/Mirror
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:49 PM on January 18, 2013


Princess/ Fairy Godmother
Drycleaner/client
Undertaker/client
Concierge/guest
Nurse/Patient
Guru/seeker
Flight attendant / passenger
Masseuse / client
IRS auditor / taxpayer
HR rep / bad employee
Bride / bridesmaid
Singer / pianist
jogger / dog
comedian / heckler
cruise director / passenger
tour guide / tourist
tourist / native
posted by bunderful at 8:32 PM on January 19, 2013


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