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The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond Paperback – June 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0826428585 ISBN-10: 0826428584 Edition: 0th

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The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond + Truth in Comedy: The Manual for Improvisation + Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826428584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826428585
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Title mention in Bookseller Buyers Guide.


"Cofounders of the London-based improvisational theater company The Spontaneity Shop, Salinsky and Frances-White provide a wonderful addition to the growing literature on theatrical improvisation. The book can serve as both a scholarly resource, since it covers the history of improvisation from its beginnings to the present, and a practical guide, for the beginner and advanced improviser... The authors include interviews with ten leading international improvisers, and they conclude with an appendix that details many of the most common improvisational games used in academic and professional settings. This book is a must for institutions supporting theater and performance programs. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers, all levels." —S.W. Cole, CHOICE, January 2009

“Cofounders of the London-based improvisational theater company The Spontaneity Shop, Salinsky and Frances-White provide a wonderful addition to the growing literature on theatrical improvisation. The book can serve as both a scholarly resource, since it covers the history of improvisation from its beginnings to the present, and a practical guide, for the beginner and advanced improviser… The authors include interviews with ten leading international improvisers, and they conclude with an appendix that details many of the most common improvisational games used in academic and professional settings. This book is a must for institutions supporting theater and performance programs. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers, all levels.” –S.W. Cole, CHOICE, January 2009

About the Author

Tom Salinsky is the co-founder (with his wife Deborah Frances-White) of The Spontaneity Shop. He and Deborah have performed improvisation for The Royal Court, The RSC Summer Season, The Gilded Balloon at the Edinburgh Festival, and at the Bloomsbury Theatre. They have toured the world and performed at many comedy festivals by invitation. They teach at RADA, The Actors Centre, The National Youth Theatre, and many other colleges and institutions, as well as their own successful workshop program.
Deborah Frances-White is the co-founder (with her husband Tom Salinsky) of The Spontaneity Shop. She and Tom have performed improvisation for The Royal Court, The RSC Summer Season, The Gilded Balloon at the Edinburgh Festival, and at the Bloomsbury Theatre. They have toured the world and performed at many comedy festivals by invitation. They teach at RADA, The Actors Centre, The National Youth Theatre, and many other colleges and institutions, as well as their own successful workshop program.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A great resource for the beginning improv class.
Roberta G. Heller
The book is divided into clearly understandable sections with methodology and succinct learning objectives .
Mr. A. Risner
It is a thick book of substance and I recommend it highly.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A. C. Willson on March 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Like the best improvised performances, this book is clear, fast paced, and, above all, imaginative. It is equaly adept at introducing and riffing on improv fundamentals to the reader, making it great for your first book on improv or your millionth. And it is even great if your interests in theater are not specifically troupe-based improv. When directing a show, I introduced some of the principles and exercises this book elaborates into the rehearsal process and was amazed at how much funnier the humorous bits became and how much more the dramatic parts resonated. This book is not a mere "how to make others laugh handbook" it truly is an improvisational handbook in the greatest sense - it's about the theatrical imagination and performance spontaneity. No matter what type of theater you are working in, reading this book and introducing its principles will make your characters richer and your situations and scenarios more fully realized. A must have.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By schleppenheimer on June 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book to help improve my son's skills in his theatre classes. His favorite part of theatre is improv class, but he needs work on his give and take skills.

As I read the book, I realized that this book spells out a lot of the skills needed to improve social skills for people on the AUTISM spectrum. The listening skills, give-and-take, and team playing required in improv would work well with teaching social skills to those who don't have these abilities -- and the beauty is that when one is successful, you get immediate positive feedback (laughter) which motivates you to try harder.

I really think that improv classes could go a long way to teach older higher-functioning children on the autism spectrum how to be funny -- thereby helping them with social skills.

Parents of children on the autism spectrum -- really consider purchasing this book, and possibly setting up improv classes, in order to help your teenage child understand humor. It could go a long way to helping them adapt to their high school experience, and help their peers see them favorably so that they can improve their friendships.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin Miller on July 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
FIVE Stars (though this site wont let me click the last star.) This book is brilliant, hugely informative, immensely clarifying and thus inspirational. Written by two of the most exciting, experienced teachers and performers of improv. The book is a necessity for students and teachers of this addictive art form. Also provides much-appreciated historical context, and practical tools to help one apply the skills and precepts that makes good improv great art. I found this book especially refreshing in that it offers what I think is the first comprehensive, global perspective on improv - they've seen and done so much in the UK, Canada, Chicago, NY, Australia, and have hosted so many international teams. Along with Napier's Improvise, this book is a must-have for those serious about being good and getting better -- a great, practical, entertaining read for anyone -- from those with experience to those just starting to wonder if they might want to get up there and finally join in.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Bisson on December 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Keith Johnstone's Impro for Storytellers. This book felt like a continuation and so much more. Having read over a dozen books on improv, I would say this is one of the best I have come across. Tom Salinsky has been there and done that and it shows in his spot-on comments. I've been performing in a troop for 2 years and I couldn't agree more with his list of games that "should never be played". I haven't finished the book yet (it's a hefty volume), but the advice and reflections I've read so far already make it worth far more than the purchase price.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bennett on February 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great book for beginning and advanced improvisors that explains exactly what the mechanics are of the authors' interpretation of the Keith Johnstone school of improvisation, and for that it deserves 5 stars. But the authors deeply misunderstand and arrogantly dismiss the entire Chicago/Del Close school of improv, under the guise of Keith and Del being equally valid methods.

At the beginning they explain that there are differences and that they'll give fair treatment to both, but then proceed for several hundred pages to denigrate the Chicago school for reasons that are invalid, and which shows they have limited understanding of what they're talking about. It's as if those parts were added late in the book's development when someone noticed that "ultimate" really only meant "half ultimate".

An example of bias can be found in the short interviews at the end where of all the wise words of Keith Johnstone (who they label "The Innovator") they could have used, they instead focus on Keith saying that Del's work doesn't particularly fit with his views on improvisation (my paraphrasing). It doesn't help that they then included an interview with the mildly dismissive Charna Halpern (who they by comparison label simply "The Keeper of the Harold"), with questions based on misunderstandings of Del's teachings.

To their credit they do try to explain some Chicago techniques, but there's a lot of misunderstandings. At one point they talk abut "game" being a core Harold concept, taking it from the book "Truth in Comedy", thus confusing the UCB which focusses on game as the core of a scene, and iO and other Chicago schools which consider it just another tool in your kitbag.
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