Thursday, May 21, 2009


First off, I'm not sure this book in particular is listworthy. The book I refer to is The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond, by Tom Salinsky and Deborah Frances-White.
Secondly, I'm not sure any book can do the "art" of improv justice.
And that, I guess, is what I'm driving at. How-to books force you to apply what is on the page to life, otherwise, what's the point? But books we read for the sake of reading them get divorced from any relevance or applicability to our lives as we live (or think about) them.

I do recommend filling in a gap by picking up an improv book* or, better yet, taking an improv class. Not only are they fun and stimulate the creative juices, but they also make you interact better with your surroundings by making you a more positive listener and responder.

*But probably not this one because the "ultimate" in the subtitle seems to mean "lengthy and defensive" and, dare I say, "not very well edited."

To end this in a more positive way, the book is very good about pointing out what improv highlights (and what many good performers in other fields do, too), namely the dual audience experience: (a) of the "work" or story itself and (b) of the struggle of putting it together for the audience.
Generally, we have accepted that (b) ought to be minimized, but this book points out that observing (b) can be very entertaining.