Before improv shows, the informant and her improv group play a game where the actors all yell “Give me back my son!” at each other, while trying not to laugh. While it is a game and in some sense a competition, the ultimate goal is to prepare to act emotional while maintaining composure.
Location: Northern California, Bay Area
The informant found the game very bizarre, although she participated and still participates wholeheartedly.
While amateur improv groups play this game, it is also played by professionals. The game is actually based on a scene from the Mel Gibson movie Ransom. The informant didn’t learn the origin of the game until long after she was taught how to play by members of her improv group, and she told me that she was very surprised when she learned where the game was actually from. She was also surprised when she found out that professional comedians play the game.
It is very interesting that the informant learned the game and the line “Give me back my son” from other improv actors rather than from the film. This interchange is an example of how authored media can become folkloric and have its meaning changed entirely.