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Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation [Paperback]

Charna Halpern , Del Close , Kim "Howard" Johnson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 5 1994

Truth In Comedy is a Meriwether Publishing publication.

Frequently Bought Together

Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation + Improvise.: Scene from the Inside Out + The Improv Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Improvising in Comedy, Theatre, and Beyond
Price For All Three: CDN$ 58.08

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From Amazon

Who would have ever thought that learning the finer points of improvisation could be such fun? The "Harold," an innovative improvisational tool, helped Saturday Night Live's Mike Myers and Chris Farley, George Wendt (Norm on "Cheers") and many other actors on the road to TV and film stardom. Now it is described fully in this new book for the benefit of other would-be actors and comics. The "Harold" is a form of competitive improv involving six or seven players. They take a theme suggestion from the audience and free-associate on the theme, creating a series of rapid-fire one-liners that build into totally unpredictable skits with hilarious results. The teams compete with scoring based on applause. The "Harold" is a fun way to "loosen up" and learn to think quickly, build continuity, develop characterizations and sharpen humor.

From Booklist

The brain wave of three improv gurus, this book is a complete guide to improvisation for both novice and professional actors and comics. An outgrowth of the successful curriculum initiated by two of the authors at the ImprovOlympic, it describes improvisational tools and techniques, from the "Pattern Game" and "The Hot Spot" to the innovative and sophisticated "Harold." Far from an ordinary how-to handbook, this clearly composed authority on comedic improvisation stresses intuitive thinking, listening skills, continuity, characterization, and, most important, teamwork. Numerous testimonials from reputed actors strengthen the text's credibility, already secured by the expertise of its authorship. Sample scenes and games take hilarious twists while illustrating the inevitability of connections and the importance of justification among team members. The authors' primary focus is the achievement of the group mind, and the book's chapter construction necessarily culminates with that creative misnomer known as the Harold. The manual is flexibly designed to allow for easy performance in both acting classes and professional settings and will prove a valuable reference source to actors and directors alike. Kathleen Chrysler

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If who you know makes you funny... Jan. 31 2004
By A Customer
the author of this book is a laugh riot. I had a hard time getting past the name dropping and self congradulatory, over the top story telling. The information that comes later in the book is pretty good, having studied with some of the people Ms. Halpern refers to as if she gave them birth. You are never, however, going to learn the "Harold" from a book. Go take a class and get out on stage. Stage time is everything.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You know Who?? March 10 2004
By A Customer
I think this book is a complete waste of time and merely serves as a lure to get people to take classes at the Improv Olympic theater in Chicago. It is incoherent and all it suffices to do is drop names the entire time. Wow, so famous people studied at IO then we all should. A complete ego stroke for owner Charna Halpern, but nothing new is taught here. Do yourself a favor, save the money on the book and actually go take classes. This is paperback trash.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too much WANK! March 21 2002
By Reba
I found this book a waste of time. It was a real chore to get through as the authors spend half of the book blowing sunshine up Del Close's _______( fill in for yourself). The HAROLD is a form of improvisation for the self - centered. As I was reading its description I could ask myself only TWO questions: As a performer -why would I want to alienate my audience with my own self-indulgence? As an audience member - why would I want to watch something like this?. The authors discuss this improv form as though it is some sort of mystical, exclussive cult activity. No thanks. Keith Johnstone's IMPRO and IMPRO FOR STORY TELLERS are the only way to go if you are interested in improvisation that your audience will remember long after they've left the theatre. If you are more interested in the inner workings of your own mind - stay home and do a Harold with your friends.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Truth in improv Nov. 12 2010
the anecdotes and examples of comedy are pretty hokey, but as a guide for understanding improv, this book is fantastic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good place to start and stop Dec 21 2003
By A Customer
This is THE book. If you'll only listen to its ideas about support and listening, this is the only text instruction you'll ever need. Then if you really want to test the waters go to Improv Olympic in Chicago or LA and take a class. If that's not possible, find a group of those like you who is willing to dare and find yourselves a coach who has been trained in long form. Learning methods of long form improv can change how you live and interact with others in a positive way. Challenge yourself to get over the fears involved with improvising. This is THE book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Chemical Engineering 403; Prereqs - none; Aug. 22 2003
By A Customer
This book has one major gaff. It tries to squeeeeeeze in the improv basics, while it teaches the advanced "Harold". I mean, improv basics are scaterred throughout this book like debris in an O'Hare downdraft. For example, environment, objects and emotion aren't covered until the end of the book. What's a new improviser to think?
I wish the progression of this book was more logical: Improv basics, short scenes, long form.
Long form improv is made up of short scenes, despite the mantra of disgruntled long formers who blast short form as "jokey". Long form is an advanced skill, with a foundation in the basics of short scenes, like it or not. (Long form proponents who pooh-pooh short form are a lot like haute chefs who scorn vegetables and meat.) Likewise, the authors here become so carried away with the magic of associations between long form scenes, that most of their confused neophyte readers would barely be able label who they are in a single scene.
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By A Customer
This book provides a good overview of the skills needed to perform improv commedy, but you can't learn improv this way. You can only do that by taking improv classes and practicing. It's an old book, so it references several people who are dead now. It focusses way too much on one particular improv style, the Harold, and ignores the many other styles that have developed over the years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, and . . . Nov. 26 2002
To be honest, I don't know why I wanted this book. I had been spending a lot of time at ImprovOlympic and was even thinking about taking classes there, but I feared my wit wasn't up to snuff. Maybe I thought the book was a surrogate method of learning.
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.
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