What better way to subtly imply that your mother-in-law is the moral equivalent to a 20th? Century fascist dictator than to write Mussolini on her forehead. ***Word of warning*** Whilst this is likely to be laughed off on the first occasion, on the next seven occasions, writing her down as Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, Robert Mugabe, Kim Il Sung and Saddam Hussein isn’t likely to go down as well.
The two best types of parties involve writing on peoples’ foreheads. The first form involves scribbling various explicit words and symbols on passed out drunk people’s brows (in permanent Texta, of course). The second involves a piece of paper between the Texta and forehead and preferably players not being passed out drunk- Welcome to the game of celebrity heads. This article will describe how to best guess your celebrity and how to stump others with seemingly easy celebrities that will ultimately be unguessable. Finally, a list of celebrity names will be included, including their approximate difficulty levels.
What is Celebrity Heads?
For the uninitiated, Celebrity Heads AKA ‘C.H.’ involves two or more players who each write a celebrities name on some paper and stick it to another unsuspecting victim, ahem “player’s” forehead (not with superglue). Players take turns in asking questions to determine what famous person’s name is stuck on their forehead. For every “yes” answer you gain, you are permitted in asking another question. Similarly to teenagers who have just returned home from high school, your questions can just be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
For instance I may ask: “Do I have orange skin?” *Yes*
“Do I have small hands? *Yes*
“Am I an Oompa Loompa?” *No*
Then the next player has their turn. The term celebrity is used loosely to indicate anyone that is well known. This includes those famous for an achievement, infamous for a wrong doing or someone who falls into neither category like a Kardashian.
There exists some loopholes in C.H. that improve your chances of victory but are frowned upon. Something to do with ‘not in the spirit of the game, blah, blah, blah.’ Think back to the semi-obscure 90’s movie, Airbud. “Ain’t no rules says a dog can’t play basketball.”
The Negation Loophole
The first loophole is to negate questions. For instance, rather than ask “Am I a scientist?” leading to a fairly high chance of a “no” answer and then the next player’s turn, you can ask “Am I not a scientist?” This can be extended to individual celebrity guesses such as “Am I not Albert Einstein?” This will result in a likely extended run of “yes” answers and also an extended group of people who won’t play C.H. with you again.
The Conjunction Loophole
In a similar ilk to the negation loophole, the conjunction loophole works on the ‘fishing for yes answers’ theory. For instance, I can ask “Am I in the entertainment or sports or science or politics field?” If I gain a “yes” answer, I can then ask three of those categories, then two etc. In reality, this loophole is taking C.H. far too seriously, akin to wearing a speed skating skinsuit down to the local ice-skating rink for a day with the family.
The unfortunate people who must endure my presence when playing C.H. have banned the negation and conjunction loopholes. That is, you can’t ask “am I not?” or use “and/or” in piling up categories within questions. Also, the chosen person mustn’t be fictional. Despite this, our family games still descend into controversy levels approaching a Jerry Springer episode with a paternity test, cheating husband and secretive transvestite rolled into one.
How to Guess Your Person
A key to winning C.H. is to gain “yes” answers by asking the broadest question possible hence banking up more questions. For instance, rather than asking if you are a scientist whose fame is largely ignored by society in honour of sportspeople (hoorah), it is more likely you are in the entertainment category. Rather than asking if you are on TV, querying if you appear on a screen can cover TV and movies. Instead of questioning if you are from the Dominican Republic, ask if you were born in the Americas, followed by North America before becoming more specific. If you have determined that you play sports, next ask “Is it a ball sport?” rather than immediately guessing basketball. Rather than asking if you are a cyclist or sprinter, ask the broader question of if you have used performance enhancing drugs.
Another key questioning tactic is to skew the likelihood of your question being answered “yes.” For instance, if you are playing with females who you think most likely gave you a female C.H. then asking “Am I a male?” will result in a “no” answer and the next player’s turn. If you are playing with Sheldon Cooper, asking “Am I Leonard Nimoy?” is more sensible than asking “Am I a sportsperson?” In essence, know what categories the type of people you are playing with will choose and exploit this to gain “yes” answers.
These realms aren’t alternate dimensions à la Narnia but are rather aimed at making the questions more general. As opposed to enquiring as to whether you are a politician, asking about whether you are in the political realm is more likely to result in a “yes” answer. Asking if you are in the movie realm rather than an actor broadens your range to directors, producers, movie writers but doesn’t include those who featured in Sharknado which I refuse to acknowledge as a legitimate movie.
The most common path to guessing your person typically involves determining their category of fame or their geographical location. Once the general area of fame has been established, the subcategory can often reveal the celebrity. Sometimes, if things are still nebulous, focusing on the era, age and appearance of a person can be useful.
Categories to Target
In my limited experience, the most likely categories that celebrities may fall into within this game are in order of likelihood; entertainment, sports, politics, the arts (including painting and literature etc.), historical, science and notorious. If your celebrity doesn’t fall into one of these categories, you can always use broad questions such as “Is my category taught at school?” You should try targeting entertainment with an early question as opposed to the category of ‘chess players’ (who despite being almost exclusively monogamous, are still called ‘players.’)
Asking questions in small increments can provide specific information and “yes” answers. For instance: “Am I over 10 years old?” *yes*
Am I over 15? *yes*
Am I over 20? *yes* etc.
A geographical alternative is:
Was I born East of Egypt? *yes*
Was I born East of Syria? *yes*
Was I born East of Agrabah? (From Aladdin, a location that many people apparently want to bomb) *No*
This increment technique borders on the loophole section and is akin to when the Australians rolled the cricket ball down the pitch so the New Zealand batsmen couldn’t hit it for 6 runs. It seems to be within the rules but against the spirit of fairness. For those unfamiliar with this sport of cricket (Americans), it apparently involves racing small insects.
How to Choose a Difficult Celebrity Head for Someone
Everyone seems to have a dodgy bearded uncle that pops up at Christmas time with a whiff of a recreational drug scent that he claims is cologne. This uncle is slightly too amorous towards his nieces. By giving him the celebrity heads; Bill Cosby, Jared the Subway Guy and Jimmy Savile, you are warning him you are onto him.
Determining a difficult person for someone else to guess can be easy. For instance, no-one I have played with has guessed the President of Equatorial Guinea, ‘Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.’ It is no coincidence that people I have given this person to have not wanted to play again. The challenge in selecting someone demandingly appropriate lies in the person being universally known yet difficult to guess.
A challenging C.H. varies from social group to social group. For instance, if you are playing with teenage girls, Niels Bohr is unfairly impossible yet Kim Kardashian would be simplistic. If your clique includes professors of quantum mechanics, Niels Bohr would be guessed instantaneously yet KK would likely be left (much like her ex-husband list has done).
The most successful mark of a good C.H. is someone that falls into an esoteric category that would be difficult for the guesser to ascertain. Some of these categories are subsets of larger groups such as entertainment yet they are still very difficult to discover. Some peculiar categories include; astronauts, explorers, inventors, chess players, people in the fashion world, models, computer based geeks/billionaires, radio hosts, finance people, the rich, lawyers, poker player, magicians, online stars e.g. YouTubers, directors, photographers, dancers, health professionals, mathematicians, ambassadors, police officers, spokespeople, judges, doctors, architects or philosophers.
An even more difficult group of people to guess in C.H. are those famous by proxy. This includes wives/husbands/gf/bf of famous people. Think of those of Desperate Housewives franchise fame who are now ironically easier to guess due to being on reality TV for being famous by proxy. By proxy people can be further extended to well-known brothers/sisters/children/parents of famous people. Monica Lewinsky is a nigh on impossible person to guess in C.H. and would fall into this category of ‘by proxy.’ MJ (the singer, not the basketball player) had three children who would all be included in this category. North West (the child-not the direction: I haven’t taken a sudden interest in cartography) would be easier to guess as they could be determined by their young age.
Multi Category Fame
This category is risky business. The theory involves choosing someone famous in multiple categories, e.g. entertainment and sport. If the guesser stumbles across the category they are most famous for initially, it will likely be an easy get. If they probe the secondary category, they are likely to struggle with their guesses. Most mere mortals like myself will never gain fame in one category yet these polymaths have gained it in multiple. Examples of people in the multi fame category include; Grace Kelly, Johnny Weissmuller, Caitlyn Jenner and MJ (this time the basketballer/baseball player not the singer).
Some of the most common questions in C.H. rotate around determining where a person is born. People seldom ask if they still live in the location of their birth. Difficult to guess C.H. can include celebrities born in a place that they are not associated with. For instance, Nicole Kidman was born in Hawaii and George Orwell was Indian born. This category doesn’t extend to some L. Ron Hubbard disciples who think they were born on the planet of Xenu.
Choosing a celebrity for someone else who was born in an obscure country can take you on the fast track to victory. Unless you are playing with a cartographile and biography buff. Guessers will go from continent to continent and country to country probing for their birthplace *Cue the Benny Hill music*. When narrowing down the continent someone is born on, people tend to forget about New Zealand. This occurs to the point that many world maps don’t have New Zealand on them. Sex, I mean, six Kiwi born celebrities that are challenging gets include; Keith Urban, Lorde, Sir Edmund Hillary, Peter Jackson, Lucy Lawless and Russell Crowe. Freddie Mercury falls under both the birthplace dilemma and geographically challenging umbrellas, having been born in Tanzania.
A favourite category for the macabrely inclined is the notorious person category. The notorious group is notoriously hard to guess as people seldom ask “Am I infamous?” Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, Billy the Kid and Al Capone are just some of the names in this set. Depending on your locale, a local serial killer or infamous person can be a challenging C.H. person. On the flipside, victims of crime that are famous belong to an equitably challenging category. Warning: By choosing someone from this category, those around you will assume you live in a room akin to the movie ‘One Hour Photo’ with creepy pictures plastering your walls and people will infer that you have strange symbols drawn around your house like something out of the Zodiac Killer textbook.
This category is seemingly nonsensical. Why play a fun, simply game of C.H. when you can watch the people around you squirm in anguish and hatred (with them abusing you for giving them someone difficult and perhaps losing their temper and thus the becoming a member of the notorious category themselves when you are found dumped in a river days later). Alas I digress.
The cliché category can be difficult if the right person is chosen. Choosing an American middleish-aged, alive actor or actress amongst the plethora of names can be challenging for the guesser. Names like Adam Sandler, Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Dustin Hoffman etc. can be difficult to land on once the person enters the entertainment-movie category. When it comes to Hollywood, I am someone who doesn’t know their Afflecks from their Zsa Zsas. In fact, French mime, Marcel Marceau could have verbally listed more Hollywood celebrity names than me, so please be more creative than the names I have in this category. American singers/TV actors can be impossible to guess amongst the sea of famous American singers/TV actors. English authors can be difficult gets so by labelling your sweet and wholesome grandmother, English author, Charles (draw phallus symbol)- ens can provide amusement on two levels.
List of Celebrity Heads
The following is my subjective determination of some C.H. difficulty ratings. They range from 1 star being easiest to guess to 5 stars being ‘friendship with the person you gave this to is effectively over.’ I’ve also listed in brackets the probable route people need to take in order to guess the celebrity. By choosing from the 4 or 5 star category, are you taking a fun parlour game too seriously- Absolutely. Will you be alienating your friends by being that competitive person- Check. Do I like asking myself questions and then answering them- Yes I do.
Donald Trump (politics)
Barack Obama (politics)
Queen Elizabeth II (England, royalty)
Justin Bieber (Canada, singer)
Steve Irwin (Australia, TV, era, deceased)
PSY (South Korea)
Roger Federer (Switzerland, sports)
William Shakespeare (England, era, arts)
Kim Kardashian (TV, reality)
Adolf Hitler (Austria, era, notorious)
Vincent Van Gogh (Netherlands, arts)
Oprah Winfrey (TV, talk show)
Nelson Mandela (South Africa)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, music, era)
Mahatma Gandhi (India)
Winston Churchill (England, politics)
Muhammad Ali (sport)
JK Rowling (England, arts)
Paul McCartney (singer, England)
Usain Bolt (Jamaica, sport)
Alan Turing (England, science, era)
Jerry Seinfeld (TV, comedy)
Paris Hilton (TV, reality)
Melania Trump (Slovenia)
Plato (Greece, era)
Sigmund Freud (Czech Republic, science)
Erno Rubik (Hungary)
Charles Darwin (science, era)
Banksy (arts, England?)
Cameron Diaz (movies)
Saddam Hussein (Iraq, notorious)
Albert Einstein (Germany, era, science)
Jerry Springer (TV, talk show)
Grace Kelly (actress, royalty)
Johnny Weissmuller (sport, movies)
Adam Sandler (movies)
Halle Berry (movies)
Charles Dickens (England, writer, era)
Caitlyn Jenner (sport, TV, reality)
Marilyn Monroe (movies, era)
Nicole Kidman (movies)
Christopher Columbus (Italy, era, exploring)
Lorde (New Zealand, singer)
North West (age, by proxy?)
Russell Crowe (New Zealand, movies)
Alfred Hitchcock (producer, England, movies)
Dustin Hoffman (movies, age)
Anne Frank (Netherlands, arts, age, era)
Marie Curie (Poland, science)
Mark Zuckerberg (science?)
Bill Gates (rich, science?)
Walt Disney (producer, era)
Judge Judy (entertainment, TV, age)
Edward Snowden (notorious for some, living in Russia)
Bobby Fischer (will you count chess as a sport?)
Rupert Murdoch (Australia, age)
Harry Houdini (entertainment, magic)
L. Ron Hubbard (arts, religious figure?)
Penn Jillette (entertainment, TV, magic, lives in Las Vegas)
Thomas Edison (inventor, business)
Perez Hilton (entertainment, online)
Bill Cosby (comedian, actor, author, singer, notorious)
Chelsea Clinton (TV, by proxy?)
Neil Armstrong (explorer, scientist?)
Orville Wright (inventor, era)
Cindy Crawford (model, entertainment?)
Freddie Mercury (lived in England, singer, era, deceased)
George Orwell (lived in England, arts, era)
Sir Edmund Hillary (New Zealand, exploring)
Charles Manson (Notorious)
Jack the Ripper (England, notorious, era)
Al Capone (Notorious, era)
Pope Francis (Argentina, religious figure)
Monica Lewinsky (TV, activist)
Robert Kardashian, attorney (By proxy?)
Chelsea Manning (notorious for some)
Henry Ford (inventor, business)
Alexander Fleming (medicine)
Paris Jackson (actress, by proxy)
Jackie Kennedy Onassis (by Proxy)
Richard Branson (businessman, England, wealth)
A glut of other 4 and 5 star C.H. fall within the following categories; astronauts, explorers, inventors, chess players, people in the fashion world, models, computer-centric people, radio hosts, finance figures, the rich, lawyers, poker players, magicians, online stars eg YouTubers, directors, mathematicians, photographers, dancers, health professionals, ambassadors, spokespeople, philosophers and the infamous. Also don’t forget to think up some local names in your specific state/country.
Overall, the real question you should be asking is not “Am I in the entertainment realm?” but rather asking yourself, “Do I want to be a social pariah by taking Celebrity Heads far too seriously?” The answer to that question is always a yes.