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Truth in Comedy: The Manual for Improvisation Paperback – April 1, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
What I discovered is the book was a wonderful manual not only to 'how to improvise' but 'how to brainstorm', 'how to work in groups', and 'how to lead.' Little things like, never deny the reality being created and always add something, the 'Yes, and...' of the book, could be applied to many crisis management situations. Never debate what has been stated, always move forward.
Where is the comedy? That was something I was amazed to learn from this book. Don't worry about it. Sometimes people won't laugh, what is important is what is being created right there at that moment on the stage with the other actors.
It spends a lot of time initially setting ideas up, and talking about what a great guy Del Close was (which he was, but still, it gets to be a bit much). But it all starts to pay off in the second half, when we get into the specifics of the Harold.
Harold is a form of improv unlike any that I've ever seen and participated in, and not to be glib, but it takes improv to the level of art. This book clearly sets out exactly how to perform the Harold: what the idea behind it was; how to interact with your teammates on stage; and how to put together the final product. It's no substitute for actually getting up and doing it, but it's not meant to be.
The book is straightforward, easy to read, and pretty short. Its style is that of an elaborated outline, which makes it simple to follow, as well as to check back for relevant parts when you need them in rehearsal or class.
Truth in Comedy is of course a must have for anyone taking or thinking about taking improv classes. For everyone else, it's a quick read that might make you think differently about improv as an art form. Also, it's pretty funny. Yeah, that too.
There were rules after all, such as "never deny" your fellow actor, no matter what subject or direction they throw at you. Sticking to the 'truth' is much funnier than going for the cheap laugh. Using the "Harold" made you grow in leaps and bounds in terms of your own creative thinking as well as learning how your fellow performers tended to think.
We were all so blown away by this book that we invited Charna to town to conduct a seminar for us, which she graciously agreed to do. I highly recommend this book, not only for anyone interested in improv, but basic acting as well. That's the truth.
This book is primarily dedicated to "The Harold," the standard of long-form improv. It's a difficult form to master, but one that can impress, entertain, and even touch both audience and actors profoundly on stage. There is a shortage of quick, easy games in this book. Even those that are detailed exist to help build on the Harold. This book is really meant for those who are ready to graduate to the next level of improv.
Many people don't like the Harold, but all long-form comedy improv, at some level, uses some variant of the Harold. If this isn't what you want, spend your time and money finding out more about Paul Sills' Story Theater (which is, of course, not covered in this book). Be warned, though, Story Theater often isn't funny, and appeals more to art afficianadoes than "WLiiA" fans, and isn't as renumerative.
Most of the book is given over to an explanation, not of performance standards or guidelines, but of the philosophy underlying improv in general, and the Harold in particular. If that's not what you want, go get another book. The standards in this book, moreover, are really intended for larger groups. The four-player format of "WLiiA" would be unable to keep up with a full Harold. Be sure you have enough actors ready to do the next big thing before you sink your money into this book.
This isn't a beginner's text for amateurs, it's for those who have a committment to creating improvisational art. If that's you, this is your book. If not, you're in a bad way spending money on this puppy. Know yourself and your team before you invest your earnings on this slim volume.
Although the book is funny and even inspiring at times, it won't help you improve at the hardest part of improv: thinking on your feet. The good news is that anyone can become quicker on their feet with a bit of practice. So if you're looking for a good introduction to the basic practices of improvisation, this book is what you're looking for. But don't buy it expecting it turn you into an improv genius overnight. Overall, I recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
pretty informative book that was helpful before auditions to a local performing arts center!Published 4 days ago by Gabriel
Great resource for those who are interested in participating in improv comedy. Del Close and Kim Johnson are two individuals who were in the game at the dawn of improv and have... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I'm so glad that I bought this. Definitely a must have for anybody who enjoys performing - improv, film/tv/commercial acting, stage acting, standup, etc.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great read for anyone interested in improv, whether they wanna do it themselves or just watch with a more trained eye.Published 9 months ago by JaLeah Hedrick
I've learned so much from this book. It's been recommended to many times; it's the improv/acting/comedy Bible. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Sam Casey