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3.8 out of 5 stars26
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on May 14, 2015
Pretty good. A few terms are used without being defined so a newbie might need to go in search of definitions. Otherwise, a new improviser will learn a lot of the basics. A seasoned improviser won't get much out of it.
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on November 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2004
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
on January 31, 2004
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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on December 21, 2003
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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on August 22, 2003
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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2003
If you think "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" is funny, and that's the kind of comedy you want to do, then this might help. I personally don't care for that. I was just looking for something to help me generate ideas on how to think on my feet as a public speaker. I didn't really find anything useful in this book for neither public speaking nor stand up. This only seems to be geared toward group comedy.
I don't know what all the good reviews are about.
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on May 29, 2003
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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on November 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2002
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.
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