Improv books tend to fall into three categories:
(1) New ideas poorly articulated (Improvisation for the Theatre for example - the bible of improv that is impossible to read cover to cover)
(2) Books that cover old ground in an easy to read way that is effective for someone trying to learn improv (Keith's second book, my own book: The Ultimate Improv Book [hopefully ;>])
(3) Books with 'improv' in the title that are more collections of games or (worse) exercise-teaching plans without any learning outcomes.
This book does not fall into any of those categories. I'm amazed it was published.
It's a book for people who already know improvisation. But Mick argues that the most accepted ways to teach improvisation are not only ineffective, they are COUNTER effective.
And he makes a great argument.
I had already started on the path he lays out (I've no longer teach 'blocking' off the top, instead concentrating on reducing fear and encouraging failure), but I have not gone nearly as far as he suggests (Not teaching blocking ever). It's a bold step and I am going to try it in the next class I teach.
In short, who should buy this book?
(1) If you are already an improviser. You've been trained (somewhere) and are looking for a challenging new way to look at your crafty
(2) You are an instructor who is looking for a new way to teach (not new games, but new principles)
Who should also buy this book:
(1) If you are buying your first improv book. Buy this book, but also pick up one of the standards - know what you are not learning - if only so you can discuss it with other improvisers (I know Mick would not suggest this, but we don't agree on everything)
(2) If you are set in your ways and figure you know the right way to do improv - buy this book and see if you can open your mind a little. I would be interested to hear counter arguments to Mick's ideas.
I am calling all my improv friends and telling them to buy this book. It's the first book with something new to say in a long time.
Congratulations Mick. I wish you had written this book earlier.
Edward J Nevraumont
Co-author: The Ultimate Improv Book