In advance, mark the names of a group of celebrities on a bunch of index cards.
Gather your group and ask four volunteers to sit in chairs facing everyone else.
Attach one index card to the forehead of each person, ensuring the individual concerned does not see what is written on the card.
Each volunteer’s objective is to identify the name of the celebrity written on their card by asking the audience as few ‘Yes/No’ questions as possible.
Each participant may ask the audience one ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question at a time.
The participants continue to ask questions until they have correctly identified the celebrity.
The first participant to correctly identify the name of their celebrity wins.
Continue until everyone has guessed their identity.
Video Transcript for Celebrity Heads
presented by Mark Collard
Four volunteers, one, two, three, and four. If you would like to sit on maybe the second or third stair over here. As the rest of our group let’s just gather around so that we can face this group of four people.
So all of those names that a moment ago you were trying to identify we often refer to as ‘celebrities’ and these now are four unique celebrities for the purpose of this exercise.
In a moment I’m about to identify each one of the four of them by putting a hat on their head which will have a label, a unique personality, and it’s the same exercise that you’re familiar with.
The idea is that we’ll go down the line one at a time and each person will ask a question that needs to be answered with either a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’. So the only thing we as an audience get to respond with is ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
Okay. If necessary I can guide the questions if they end up with question that’s a bit iffy. I could say could you ask that again. They ask one question, they get a response, we move on to the second person, and then we move on to the third person and so on. There are many, many variations to this exercise but for some people they’ve not seen it before either.
Got the basic idea? So my four volunteers are you still willing to be a celebrity?
Celebrity… It’s like that TV show “I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here” type of thing.
(placing of Celebrity Heads hat on each person)
Alright. I now have your hats. The idea is that the person wearing the hat cannot see their own label but other people on the celebrity panel may view what’s on your hat. Adjust your hats if it’s not comfortable folks but just that we can now see.
Alright. If you need to come in closer if you can’t see the writing.
Let’s start Vanessa at your end. Would you like to ask your first question?
(Am I alive today?)
Yes. Great. And you have one question at a time before we move on to the next person.
(Am I Australian?)
(Am I a female?)
(Am I male?)
Yes. Okay, back to Vanessa.
(Am I male?)
(Am I… Donald Bradman?)
That’s an early start.
(You never know. I just had a feeling.)
But no. Thomas.
(Am I alive?)
(Am I Australian?)
No. So the object is for each of these people to identify their personality, their celebrity, in as few questions as possible. Right now we have nothing that has been identified. We’re up to the second question. So Vanessa, for your third question.
(Am I involved in the media?)
So what we’ll do we’ll change it up and this is another way in which you can also be introduced is that you stick with one person until they get a ‘No’. So they keep asking questions. If they keep getting ‘Yes’s then they keep asking questions. So Vanessa will continue until you get a ‘No’.
(Am I in comedy?)
No. Okay, so now Thomas.
(Am I Albert Einstein?)
Yeah. Good job. Excellent.
(Am I Disney?)
(Am I Mickey Mouse?)
No. But you’re on track. Vanessa, until you get a ‘No’.
How To Play Narrative
Your first step is to create a set of index cards (or labels) with the names of famous, well-known, celebrity type people written on them.
For example, Mickey Mouse, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, Barack Obama, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Angela Merkel, Nelson Mandela and so on. Throw in a few lesser-known, obscure celebrities to mix it up a bit too.
You can download a sample set of celebrity head names from the Resources tab.
Gather your group, and seat them in front of four empty chairs. Then ask for four volunteers to occupy the chairs to become the first set of ‘celebrities,’ facing the audience.
Find a clever way to stick one index card or label to the forehead of each of the four volunteers, ensuring that they do not see what is written on the card. Importantly, the name must be clearly visible to the audience.
After a few audience chuckles – invariably, one of the volunteers will be assigned an unlikely celebrity – you are ready to start.
Explain that the mission for each ‘celebrity’ is to reveal their identity by asking the rest of their group as few ‘Yes/No’ questions as possible. That is, a celebrity is only permitted to ask a question that can be answered with a “YES” or “NO” response.
It works like this. A celebrity will ask the first question, and upon receiving the group’s “YES” or “NO” reply, the next celebrity will ask their question, and so on. Challenge the participants to identify their celebrity head name within ten or fewer questions.
Truth is always obvious to those who know it, so expect the audience to thoroughly enjoy watching the frustration of a ‘celebrity’ try to work out who they are.
As soon as a ‘celebrity’ has guessed their identity, ask for someone from the audience to swap places with them and allow the play to continue.
Or, wait until all celebrities have been identified before introducing a new set of participants.
Practical Leadership Tips
Four is not a magical number of chairs, anything up to eight chairs works well. But nine or more participants is often cumbersome.
Applying sticky-tape or some other adhesive to a person’s forehead/skin/hair can be problematic. A simple alternative is to ask each person to wear a cap or hat, to which the index card is adhered.
Ideally, everyone will actually know the celebrities named on their card, but on occasions, this is not the case. To this end, expect some people to complete their task quicker than others. So as to not prolong the agony for those who are struggling, feel free to add an occasional well-timed clue to move the guessing along.
You are strongly advised to only ask for volunteers to assume the celebrity chairs. Forcing or pressuring some people to be the focus of everyone’s attention, especially if they cannot identify the celebrity quickly, can be very threatening. To prevent this awkward situation from occurring, consider your program sequence, and ask for willing volunteers only.
In case you’re wondering, it’s okay for other celebrities to lean forward to view the names on the cards of their fellow participants. Keeping them in the dark doesn’t add any value to the activity.
You could integrate Celebrity Heads as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote the personal and collective well-being of your group.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Seeking and/or Offering Support
Build Positive Relationships
Demonstrate Cultural Competency
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits of lots of healthy social interaction and a good laugh.
In a small way, as with any group game, you could weave in emotional literacy competencies such as the ability to self-regulate, cooperate and demonstrate empathy. For example, to express empathy for those who struggle longer than others (to identify their celebrity) is a valuable characteristic to develop.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Celebrity Heads could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Keep Going: Allow the ‘celebrity head’ to continue asking questions until they receive a “NO” from the group, at which point, the next celebrity may ask their question.
One Of Our Own: For groups who know each other well, write the names of group members on the cards. On a random occasion, a participant happens to get the card with their name on it, allow the game to continue because it’s very entertaining to watch someone identify themselves.
Alternative Topics: Focus on alternative subjects, such as famous landmarks, cartoon characters, leaders, pioneers, countries, cities, etc.
Take a look here to peruse many more variations of Celebrity Heads contributed on Wikipedia.
If possible, return your group of volunteers to the Waiting Room so that they can not see or hear proceedings for the next minute or two, eg Zoom can do this easily. Then, flash a series of celebrity names on the screen and appoint one to each of your volunteers. Encourage everyone to write this information down to help them remember who is who. Then, invite your volunteers into the primary room and play as normal.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Most of us, at one time or another, dream about being a famous celebrity. Well, today you get your chance to be someone famous – if only for a few minutes…
How well do we actually know other people, especially those we have not actually met but simply see and read a lot about in the news and gossip columns? Let’s find out shall we…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun audience-participation, guessing game:
How did it feel to know that everyone else knew something that you didn’t?
How did it feel to be in ‘the know?’
Are there other times when you have encountered frustration of not knowing something, when everyone else seemed to get it? What are the consequences of this situation?
The inspiration for Celebrity Heads, and many more hilarious community-building games, was sourced from the following publication: