Learn to Work Together – “Limericks”

“Limericks” is built on an Improv exercise you can facilitate – one that I learned from Izzy Gesell, Author “Leading with Applied Improv and Humor in the Workplace” – that illustrates how working together and building on to each other’s ideas creates a better solution than competition or tearing down the ideas of others.

Purpose:

Limericks, built on an Improv exercise, illustrates how working together and building on to each other’s ideas creates a better solution than competition or tearing down the ideas of others.  This works great in a business setting.

Objectives:

  • To learn how working together and adding to each other’s ideas, creates a better solution.
  • To have fun.

Do The Following:

    • Ask for 5 volunteers to come up to the front of the room. Have them line up in a row.
    • Explain what a Limerick is (see Limericks Preparation) – give an example and ensure they understand.
    • Ask the people for a topic for the Limerick.
    • Explain to the volunteers what they will be doing:
      • The first volunteer speaker begins the Limerick.
      • The subsequent volunteers will add one line to the Limerick until all 5 have participated.
    • When done, debrief the volunteers and then the Participants.
  • Repeat one or two more rounds, but ask a different volunteer to be the first speaker.  Debrief after each round.
Limericks Preparation:

 

Become familiar with what a Limerick is and gather some examples to help.  “A limerick is a funny little poem containing five lines.  It has a very distinctive rhythm and rhyme pattern.”
    • Rhythm Pattern: The first, second, and fifth lines all have this rhythm pattern: da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (there are 3 DUMS or beats).  Say, “There once was a fellow named Tim” out loud.  Now say, “da DUM da da DUM da da DUM” out loud.  Both have the same rhythm.The third and fourth lines have a different rhythm pattern: da DUM da da DUM (there are 2 DUMS or beats).  Say, “He fell off the dock” out loud.  Now say “da DUM da da DUM” out loud.  Both have the same rhythm.
  • Rhyme Pattern: The last words of the first, second, and fifth lines all rhyme with each other.  Those rhyming words are called “A.”  As illustrated in the poem below, the words are ” Peru,” “shoe,” and “true”.The last words of the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other.  Those rhyming words are called “B.”  In the example, below, the words are “night” and “fright.”
Here is a famous Limerick.  Notice both the rhyme and rhythm patterns.
  1. There was an old man from Peru, (A)
    da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)
  2. who dreamed he was eating his shoe. (A)
    da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)
  3. He awoke in the night (B)
    da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS)
  4. with a terrible fright, (B)
    da da DUM da da DUM (2 DUMS)
  5. and found out that it was quite true. (A)
    da DUM da da DUM da da DUM (3 DUMS)

When you write a Limerick for the example, make sure that it has the same AABBA rhyme pattern.  Make sure it also has the same 3 DUMS, 3 DUMS, 2 DUMS, 2 DUMS, 3 DUMS rhythm pattern, too.  To verify, recite the poem, substituting “da” for all unaccented or unstressed syllables and “DUM” for all accented or stressed syllables, as shown above.  If your poem doesn’t have a similar rhythm pattern, then you need to make some adjustments.

 

Debriefing Questions:
  • “What did you observe about working as a team?”
  • “What insights did you gain?”
  • “How did you feel as the first speaker?  As a subsequent speaker?”
  • Ask the people, “How did you feel?”