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19 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for All Theater Artists
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...
Published on March 9, 2009 by A. C. Willson

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should be renamed the ultimate "impro" handbook
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...
Published 18 months ago by Richard Bennett


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for All Theater Artists, March 9, 2009
This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for improv and for social skills training for those on the autistic spectrum, June 18, 2009
By 
schleppenheimer (Pennsylvania USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars YES!! And Yes And! Buy this book!, July 25, 2008
By 
Caitlin Miller (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Like having the sequel to Impro for Storytellers, December 3, 2009
By 
L. Bisson (Orange Park, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and informative, May 1, 2009
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This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
I have bought (and read) quite a few impro books over the years, and tend to find most of them interesting, occasionally inspiring, and generally quite poorly written. They also tend to consist of one or two real insights surrounded by repetitious or uninteresting dross (at least the bad ones tend to).

In contrast, the Improv Handbook is well written, concise and really useful. Their activities are well described and valuable as training tools, their interviews with various improvisers are readable and engaging, and they do have some interesting insights into impro as a business.

All in all, it is the one impro book that I tend to refer to the most. It contains a lot of really practical information that should prove useful to improvisers and impro teachers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Practical Guide, July 7, 2008
This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
This is the long-awaited 'how-to' guide by my two colleagues at the Spontaneity Shop - the fruit of long experience teaching, directing and performing.

Fascinating sections on narrative (usually neglected by Impro manuals with the honourable exception of Keith Johnstone) and on diagnosing and curing performer's tendencies and difficulties. This book manages to be practical and readable - especially useful for teachers everywhere.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Book - a real must have, January 14, 2009
This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
This book is fantastic. It covers everything you could possibly want to know about improv, in a really interesting fun and comprehensive way. I've been a professional in the business for some years and this best book I've ever read on the subject I would highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should be renamed the ultimate "impro" handbook, February 27, 2013
By 
Richard Bennett (Turramurra, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
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. Another misunderstanding is Chicago's "heightening", which they think is the same as the "absurdity curve",

The book should be renamed to "The Impro Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising the Keith Johnstone way", so that anyone in the U.S. or learning the Chicago style, doesn't buy it thinking that it refers directly to them. There will be nuggets for the Chicago improvisor, but warning should be given that many of the techniques don't apply very well to Chicago style play.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely the only improv book you need, February 18, 2010
By 
KM (Virginia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
I teach high school theater and I can't recommend this book enough. I came across the Improv Handbook just by dumb luck (I think it was one of those Amazon recommendations) and it has changed my acting classes for the better across the board. It is wonderful for not only teaching improv, but for teaching the elements of storytelling which are so important in all areas of theater. It's fun to read, the exercises are clearly explained, the objectives are concrete, and the kids love it.
There are one or two parts that are not workable in my very conservative high school, but those are few and far between. This book, along with anything by Bruce Miller, will give you substantive ways to improve your acting classes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An book on improv that you will come back, June 22, 2009
By 
The Wah (Brisbane, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond (Paperback)
I have been improvising for quite a few years yet have found many of the "must read" books on improv to be dry and impenetrable. Many of them seem to have very little relevance to the modern improvisor.

"The Improv Handbook" definitely does not fit into the above category and is chock-a-block full of useful tidbits for beginners and for seasoned performers. It is a book on improv I keep referring to in many situations. Well written and enjoyable it was definitely worth my time and money.
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The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond
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