Stick your left hand out with the palm exposed. Do the same with your right hand, making sure both hands are the same distance away from your body. Slowly walk your hands up in a step motion like you’re giving high fives to progressively taller people. Now walk your hands down by high fiving shorter and shorter people.

“Feel” that invisible barrier? Of course you do, because you’re a mime. Like every mime, you’re a Hand It wizard, but you’re always getting trapped in unwizardly glass boxes. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll find a door or escape window somewhere.

Mimes really are Hand It wizards. They express a vast range of emotions and situations using body language. Mimes can be depicted as gimmicky, cheap entertainment, but mime performance is a rich and storied art form that stretches all the way back to Ancient Greece  and currently thrives around the globe.

Mimes are walking, talking proof of Hand It gesture effectiveness. Whether on the street or on a stage, mimes make people laugh, cry, sneer, think, or scoff from nothing more than their movements and gestures. They communicate situations and feelings without writers, sometimes with the help of music, and always with the aid of Hand It maneuvers. To be a mime, one must become fluent in hand gestures.

Traffic Mimes

Credit: Harvard Gazette

When Antanas Mockus served as mayor of Bogotá (Colombia’s capital and largest city), he employed a Hand It-style solution to improve the behavior of drivers and pedestrians. He hired 20 professional mimes to use their gestures to mock rule-breaking pedestrians and ridicule reckless drivers. This program grew to ~400 mimes and successfully combined social pressure with Hand It gestures to improve traffic safety. The Harvard Gazette discussed this story among other innovative tactics used by Mockus during his tenure as mayor.

In 2011, Venezuela modeled a program based on the Bogotá experiment by having mimes serve as traffic cops. Hand It gestures such as “wagging the finger” were employed to give instant feedback to drivers and pedestrians.

Mime in Action

Spanish Mime Carlos Martinez

People laughing without hearing a single word. Clear situations without a language barrier getting in the way. Mimes embody the universality of silent art through motion and gesture, thus exemplifying what the Hand It movement is all about.

HAND IT CHALLENGE: Get in a mime battle like the one from EuroTrip. Just remember to mime a fight, not fight a mime.