It’s true – mistakes are more fun

September 24th, 2013


As I enter my last week in England for this extended trip, we finally found a convergence of people, time, weather and willingness to go punting on the River Cam. There was an element of relief – how could I spend a summer in Cambridge and not go punting? And an element of anxiety – this was something I’d not done before. It was a nice reminder that any new experience creates some level of anticipation and fear.

Our experience of punting ranged from some to none, our skills unknown. We might end up in the river instead of calmly gliding along on top of the river. There were obstacles – other boats, trees, bridges, stinging nettles, ducks and dogs. We got up close and personal with all of them.

And we laughed so much my sides hurt (or maybe that was from lifting the pole).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made lots of mistakes – what Simo calls ‘happy mistakes’. That’s Simo there trying to avoid the stinging nettles. We each figured out what worked best for us, we crashed into the bank, weaved across the river, stopped and watched in awe those who were effortlessly steering their punt down the middle of the river. We disentangled the pole from overhanging trees and pulled it out of the mud just in time. All the time laughing and having fun. And learning how to punt.

As our competence grew, there was not so much laughter. More tranquility. Enjoying the glorious weather. Satisfaction in achieving what we set out to do.

If you’re going to try something new, pick your colleagues wisely – people like Johnnie Moore, Simo Routarinne and Barbara Tint. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople who will laugh with you, who will let go of mistakes you, and they, make, who will have fun, and be there to catch you if you fall.

Fail often, and quickly, and laugh a lot.








Let the games begin

September 17th, 2012

The Olympics are over for another four years. But it’s not those sort of games I’m referring to. Not sporty, competitive games. Nor video games. And no, not board games either.

These games are for fun. They are active, playful, not too energetic (though they can be), not too competitive (though they can be that too). Easy to learn, easy to play, and best of all – fun! They will make you laugh, they will make you smile, they will make you feel good.

If games do all that, why don’t we play them more often? Good question. As adults, the opportunities to play games are few and far between. Plus it’s seen as childish. Well, to that I say bollocks!

So I’m delighted that my friend Genevieve Roberts has taken the initiative to start an Improv Play Gaming Group on the SurfCoast. Yay!

Genevieve says, “As a theatre practitioner and wellness facilitator I have seen Improvisation Games achieve great things, while people have fun. I’m currently doing a Master of Wellness and I’ve been researching Improvisation as a process which intrinsically supports wellness. Benefits of playing improv games include FUN!, creativity, resilience, flexible responsiveness, laughter, collaboration, and more. But most of all, fun.”

Every Thursday evening 7.30 pm – 9.30 pm

Anglesea Performing Arts 1 Macmillan Street Anglesea Victoria Australia

Can’t wait to play.

Joy and delight

December 9th, 2011

Wouldn’t you like to have more of whatever it is that’s making the people in this pic react this way?

You bet.

The cause of all this joy and delight is bubbles.

The sort of bubbles that you blew as a child, and that you thought you’d outgrown. Seems none of us outgrow the pleasure  we get from watching someone blow bubbles.

This is the secret that Dr Froth aka Andrew Suttar knows only too well. For about the same time that I’ve been in business, Dr Froth has been blowing bubbles and developing his amazabubble performabubbles and his unique view on life known as Bubbleosophy.

Let’s face it – I’m jealous. Who wouldn’t want to see people reacting this way to your work?

And who wouldn’t want more joy and delight in their lives? This is something for me to work on methinks.

Here’s another pic of Dr Froth at work at the Hub Melbourne Christmas Party and if you want to see him in action, watch this video.



It’s the Citizens versus the Werewolves!

November 18th, 2010

Here the village where the citizens and werewolves live. Of course, the werewolves are disguised as citizens during the day. It’s only at night when they transform and go on a killing spree.

This is how Andrew Rixon describes his introduction to the game of werewolf.

It was at the 2008 Applied Improv Network conference held in Banff, Canada where I first learnt about this game Werewolf. It is an improv game known by a few other names such as Mafia and Assassins. It started around 10 pm at night, in the picturesque Banff leadership centre, situated in the snow-capped Rockies. A group of 30 people began the game which would be destined to finish in the early hours of the morning and, even then, lead to a zingy sleepless night for some. I often describe the game as being about power, deception, paranoia and misinformation.

And here’s the set up:

“Once upon a time…A time in the 16th century. A time when there lived citizens in a village and life is simple…Or is it? Retiring from their daytime activities, the Citizen folk now face a cold, dark night-time force, the force of the Werewolf, who feed on the Citizens…Will the Citizens discover who the Werewolves are in time to save themselves and their village?”

I was at the same conference in Banff, and it was my introduction to the game of Werewolf too, albeit somewhat different. Blissfully unaware of the unleashing of the game on my unsuspecting friend, I awoke the next morning and made my way to breakfast – to be greeted with howls and yips and talk of deaths and lies and treachery. It was pretty clear to me that I’d missed something significant. It only took a couple more years for me to experience the game first-hand and to realise I had made a serious misjudgement in preferring sleep that fateful night in Banff to playing Werewolf. It’s not a mistake I’ve made again, nor would I miss another opportunity to play Werewolf.

So I was thrilled today when Andrew presented me with his pack of illustrated Werewolf cards. Oh, wow! I’ll take them with me everywhere. And watch out, I might try and rope you into a game of misinformation, paranoia and lies. Come to think of it, I know a few people who would be perfect for this game!

Friday bonus

November 12th, 2010

I couldn’t resist this – I want this dog to come and live at my place!

A cute little owl goes hunting

November 12th, 2010

Beyond Belief

Just for fun!

Hat tip to Alex Kjerulf.

Best comment on YouTube: “I think the owl is trying to catch the red time bar at the bottom of the screen.”

The joy of play

October 6th, 2010

Tonight I played gamey-type-games-things with Dan from The Fun Fed, and five other blokes. Just proves you don’t need many mates to have a great night of game playing. We were in an amazing space at the Old Finsbury Town Hall in London. I’m really sorry I didn’t take my camera. Didn’t even have my iPhone with me. But here’s a photo of the room we played in that I purloined from the web site.

Thanks to Johnnie Moore for introducing me to The Fun Fed and escorting me through the streets of Islington to find the venue. We had a great time. Did I already say that?

What made it so good I hear you ask. The space was fabulous. Oh, I said that already too. There was a good mix of physical and mental games and LOTS of laughs – and like the best laughs they emerged from the games themselves. The pace was good too – there was no pressure to get through a certain number of games, or to perform, or to act in any particular way, or to be clever, or anything. This is the joy of play – you can just be yourself, and have fun. How often can you say you’ve gone somewhere with the sole intention of just having fun? This week? This month? This year? Heaven forbid, since you were a kid? No agenda, no expectations, no pressure.

Here’s three games I hadn’t played before that I really liked.


Someone leaves the room and the others decide an adverb that they have to guess by issuing instructions for us, either individually or collectively, to act in the manner of the word they are trying to guess. The three words we played with were apathetically, orgasmically and mischievously.


Turn out all the lights. Someone is the ghost and can move. Everyone else has to stand in still with eyes closed. The idea is for the ghost to sneak up behind the humans, stand there for 10 seconds and then scare the living daylights out of them. The humans have a chance to avoid being ‘ghosted’ by touching the ‘ghost’ if they feel him nearby. One you have been ghosted you also become a ghost and can go after the other humans.

Job Interview

One person leaves the room and comes back to a job interview with the remaining players. The interviewee has to try and guess what job/role/person they are being interviewed for from the questions asked by the panel.

I’m definitely inspired to offer game playing when I get home – for no other reason than for the joy of play.

Believing it’s possible at Bells

May 17th, 2010

My friend Chris Corrigan introduced me to rock balancing, so it was only appropriate on a recent visit to Bells Beach (when the surf was pumping BTW) that Chris took the opportunity to do some rock balancing on my home turf. I hope to do the same on his home turf, Bowen Island, some time.

Walking towards Southside (away from the rocks), I looked back. A surfer was making his way towards the surf when suddenly the balanced rock caught his eye. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared. Then he walked around, maybe trying to figure out how it was done. There is no trick however. As Chris once described to me, you simply have to believe it’s possible. I’m sure the surfers on those huge waves understand. Believe it’s possible. Yes!

Beyond Open Space

November 22nd, 2009

At the end of each and every Applied Improv Conference is an Open Space Day (we’re still working on the whole conference being in Open Space, but that’s another story). I’ve had great fun the last two years opening space, and this year enjoyed Chris Corrigan taking on the opening – providing a new voice for AINers to hear, and selfishly, providing an opportunity for me to see how someone else opens space.

I just loved the way Chris quickly applied the language of improvisation to Open Space and named it a long-form frame game known as The Harrison.

And I can’t describe how much I love this – from the incomparable Rich Cox (so much talent in one person, it shouldn’t be allowed!) Post Open Space were two more sessions (after the conference had finished) – Open Pub and Open Tub. Here are the Laws and Principles…


law of two drinks – If you find yourself in a situation where you are drinking alone, meet at least one more person before beginning your discussion.

the four principles – Whatever someone orders is the right drink. Whoever comes is the right pubgoer. Whenever it starts is the right time. When it’s last call, it’s over.


law of two towels – If you find yourself in a situation where you are soaking alone, meet at least one more person before beginning your discussion.

the four principles – Whoever comes is the right hottubber. Whatever someone wears is the right swimwear. Whenever it starts is the right time. When someone pees in the pool, it’s over.

Riding a dead horse

September 13th, 2009

Hat tip to Dave Pollard

This is one of my favourite sayings in workshops (for some reason I seem to find people riding dead horses quite often!) so I was pleased to read this:

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed down from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. In the public service, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies is often employed, such as:

1. Change riders.

2. Buy a stronger whip.

3. Do nothing: “This is the way we have always ridden dead horses”.

4. Visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses.

5. Perform a productivity study to see if lighter riders improve the dead horse’s performance.

6. Hire a contractor to ride the dead horse.

7. Harness several dead horses together in an attempt to increase the speed.

8. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.

9. Appoint a committee to study the horse and assess how dead it actually is.

10. Re-classify the dead horse as “living-impaired”.

11. Develop a Strategic Plan for the management of dead horses.

12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.

13. Modify existing standards to include dead horses.

14. Declare that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overheads, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than many other horses.

15. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

16. (added by another commenter) Issue Collateralized Horse Obligations