“Have you ever, in your entire life, experienced unconditional, unwavering support?”
This question was posed to a bunch of (mostly) introverted adults who had JUST met each other at a retreat my Husband and I attended over Memorial Day weekend. I don’t think a single person raised their hand. There was a fair amount of feet shuffling, a few downward glances, a few people answering with a straight up NO.
I thought this was super sad, but counted myself among them. How do we get to be adults without experiencing this level of support?
Ben Lidgus* from the Seattle Comedy Group then asked us if we knew what a “Hype-man” was.
A “Hype-man” is the back-up to the star – usually a rapper – whose entire purpose is to “Hype-up” and support the lead singer. They echo back lyrics, they pump up the crowd, they make the lead singer seem like the coolest, most important person in the universe.
Ben introduced us to two Theatre Sports games where we got to practice supporting each other and being supported by being Hype-men. These are AWESOME games that are great group activities, used as we did as icebreakers or a fun way to practice taking turns. These could be used at camp, in the classroom, at a birthday party, and are suitable for all ages.
Rock, Paper, Scissors – Hype Battle!
Invite two volunteers to be your demo team. Have them play a best of 3 rounds in the game Rock, Paper Scissors. The winner will then challenge someone else – you and the person that lost will become the Hype-men for the winner.
Cheer, stomp your feet, whistle, throw your hands in the air, chant their name. Make the person who won the last match feel like they are competing in the most epic event of the century. Songs will be written about this rock, paper, scissors battle and it will become history – no – LEGEND!
Once everyone gets the idea, tell them they will be participating in the most epic rock, paper, scissors battle ever! Have everyone pair off and have their own rock, paper, scissors battle. After each battle, the loser will become another Hype-man for the winner. If your winner loses his next battle, you all join together and become Hype-men for the person that beat them – on and on until there are only two people left. This gets rowdy, loud, and a whole lot of fun!
This is a great icebreaker and practice in being a Hype-man for the second activity….
This is, some would say, a life-changing game. Players get to experience full, unconditional, unwavering support possibly for the first time ever. It’s beauty and effectiveness lay in it’s simplicity.
If you have a large group split them into smaller groups of about 6-8 people and have them spread apart a little ways and form a circle. If you are working with a smaller group, just form a circle.
Tell your group that the point of this exercise is to make the person who’s turn it is feel like a rock star, the most important person in the universe. Encourage them to put as much feeling and energy into it as they possibly can. It doesn’t matter if the person is right or wrong, if their answer matches the category, or even if they make a sound effect or say something nonsensical. The point is to show them unconditional support.
Have the first person in each group (you if there is only one group) list a broad category (foods, colors, states, book titles, movies, things that are blue, things that houses are made from) customize difficulty to the age group. Point to someone and say “7 (category)” for example: 7 countries. The person you point to has to list off countries and it is up to the rest of the group – the hype-men – to count after each statement and keep track of the number of items listed.
For example: someone has been given the category 7 types of fruit. They shout: APPLE! and the Hype-men would all together count ONE!!! Again, encourage cheering, foot stomping, whistling, throwing hands in the air, high-fives and shouts of encouragement. As the person keeps listing off types of fruit the Hype-men would cheer wildly and count TWO!!! and so on. Once the person has listed 7 they give a new category to a teammate who hasn’t gone yet. The previous player joins the rest of his team in being a Hype-man for the new player. By the end of the game, everyone should have had a turn to list 7 things and have been a hype-man for every other member of his/her team.
Remind them that it doesn’t really matter what the person who is listing says, your whole purpose in life is to make them feel awesome and like they are the most important person on earth. For best effect, encourage movement, positive body language, and allow participants to really get into their roles as Hype-men throughout the activity continue to encourage and motivate the group to hype louder, stronger, with more passion.
After the activities gather everyone together for a quick wrap up. Did they enjoy the activities? did any feelings come up? How is everyone feeling afterwards? Invite people to share anything they like – and of course – Hype them up!
Did it work for us?
Absolutely! Combined with a few other group games that Ben lead us through, we ended the night on a high note that weaved it’s way through the entire weekend. People were less shy, there wasn’t really that social awkwardness that can happen when new people meet for the first time. We took the atmosphere of encouragement and acceptance into all of our activities.
By far the most awesome show of the effect the Hype-man games had on us was on the Sunday when a bunch of the group set out to conquer a local mountain. They came back in shifts, each group honoring their own fitness level. Each group that came back kept a look out for the next group and was there at the lodge entrance to hype everyone who returned and celebrate the accomplishments and journey.
One lady was determined to tackle the mountain and make it to the top at her own pace. Night fell, dinner was served and she had not returned. We started to get worried, several of our group went to look for her…and then came back telling us she was okay and on her way.
For her, it was a mission she set out to accomplish, not just a mere hike. Of course we had to hype this up and when she came back she was met with a thunderous applause and 60 people cheering her on those last few steps. She was literally taken aback by the avalanche of support – and feeling like a rock star by the time she had worked her way through the rows of people there to hype her up and give her high-fives. It was the biggest show of mutual support and encouragement I have ever seen in one place and it was amazing to see and be a part of.
From Games to a Great Life
Can you imagine the powerful impact if you took the ideas learned in these games and applied them to your daily life?
How would your relationship with your kids, spouse, and family change if you approached life as a team and from a safe place of unwavering, unconditional support?
How much more rewarding would it be – for both of you, if you actively listened and supported the person you were communicating with?
What if your classroom was a safe, creative space where the default attitude in your class was one of support?
What would you try/explore/invent/create if you had a network of people who hyped-up and supported you?
Thanks Ben, for helping us create a positive, supportive space to learn and grow. Also, for teaching us these games that I am sharing on Growing Creative Kids today!
*Besides being an super talented Improv actor and teacher, Ben is also an education consultant and learning disability tutor in the Seattle area.
Thanks for the recap of that event. It was fun reliving it through your blog. I loved the story of the lady climbing the mountain and how the hype-man carried over to that part of the weekend. You should share this with Pete.
Thanks Kristin! Was awesome to finally meet you, looking forward to next year 😀
That was a cool event! Ben did a great job, and hanging out in a rainforest was awesome, too!
Thanks for helping reflect on it!