5.0 out of 5 stars A good place to start and stop
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...
Published on Dec 21 2003
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2.0 out of 5 stars If who you know makes you funny...
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...
Published on Jan 31 2004
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5.0 out of 5 stars Elementary my dear Harold,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)The best.
(Well, ok Keith Johnstone's works are outstanding as well).
Interesting that a book that is 'basic'
(translation: free of pretentious doubletalk)
should contain such on the mark advice and still be relatively unknown to the acting community.
Yes, it does demand a sense of humor from the reader so if you are VERY SERIOUS ACTORS, I guess I should warn you that the word 'Truth' in the title is not a polemic against the Marx Brothers nor a vindication of Stanislavski.
It's about---aw, hell , just read the book, will ya?
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous book,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)This book goes into the group mind ideas related to improv... you know how you can transcend your seperated mind and experience a larger awareness... see with more than your limited sight? I'm convinced that the development of this awareness is integral to our progress as sentient beings.
If you want to get further into the present moment, and challenge your ability to respond spontaneously to Life, and have a blast doing it, this is a great place to look.
4.0 out of 5 stars A focused, helpful improv manual,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)So frankly, most acting books, or books that try to tell you how to "do" art make me want to hit myself over the head, repeatedly. The first half of this book is no different.
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for serious improvisers,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)For people who perform, direct and teach improvisation, "Truth in Comedy" belongs on the bookshelf next to Johnstone's "Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre," Spolin's "Improvisation for the Theater" and Sweet's "Something Wonderful Right Away." Whether or not you're familiar with (or even interested in) Chicago-style long-form improvisation, ImprovOlympic's guiding principles are helpful in developing a troupe's approach and or a program's philosophies. Use the exercises to cure burnout in a group of experienced performers or guide novices away from jokey, gimmicky scenework. "Truth in Comedy" makes even more sense if you read it after checking out a show at Chicago or LA's ImprovOlympic or NYC's Upright Citizen's Brigade.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Review,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)I've been doing improv comedy on and off for about two years now, and I can honestly say that this book is the best one I've read on the topic. Reading Truth in Comedy is the next best thing to actually being on stage. Now I find myself "looking for the game" in a given scene and doing other such techniques advised by Charna Halpern and Del Close; two veterans, to say the least, of improv. I've read the book three times now and every time I pick up something new, it's just a book that keeps on giving! Besides being very informative this book also is quite entertaining. I recomend buying this book whether you have and interest in improv or not.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a MUST for any aspiring Improv Artist!,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)The late Del Close was a legend in comedy circles - and for good reasons. The techniques he developed with Charna Halpern emphasizes that comedy should not be forced; it should come honestly from situations that are present. Forced comedy is never funny. Too bad a lot of these sitcom writers today don't know that (I mean have you ever watched Two Guys and A Girl?). I wished that I could've studied with Del but this book is definitely close enough for me. If you're thinking of going into Improv, then definitely get this book. You'll learn a lot.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start if you can't get up and do it.,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)I didn't mean if you are in a wheelchair to read this book. Read it regardless, it teaches you about exploration and conversely, bottomlining. Coming in knowing an emotion instead of being blank and then just making your partner look bad. This book kicks short-form (and anything Groundlings) ass! You realize there is more to making your fellow scene partner squirm. It's about giving "gifts" of information. Very good. Read it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Bible for a new group...,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)These 160 pages are a great foundation for forming a comedy group. The underlying philosophy of the Harold will carry you as far as you want to go. It's also a good book to give to your spouse... your marital interactions will become much smoother and even entertaining once you learn to follow the laws of improv.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for any improver,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)This book is an excellent way of learning the basic skills of improv, which are more important than any one game or form. As for the 'Harold' my improv group uses it as our signature game, and, over the last 15 years, have found it to be a rewarding and challenging improv expierence. This book is the best of its kind because it avoids all of the flaky theater stuff and gets to the point.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great tool for improv and acting,
This review is from: Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation (Paperback)Truth in Comedy starts off with a rather immodest amount of name dropping and self congratulating, but after those first few chapters, things take off.
The book is intended to be a rough guide to teaching and performing "Harold," the signature improvisation form of the Improv Olympic theater in Chicago. While the text focuses heavily on the structure of the form, it also holds page after page of advice and tools for any improviser or actor. The lessons in agreement, trust (in yourself and others), and teamwork can be used in any improv form (shortform or longform). And it definitely can teach us actors a thing or two about performing a scripted show.
One of my few complaints about the book is it lacks concreteness. The author alludes to the phenomenon of group mind, the beauty of connections, and the wonder of "finding Harold." Despite giving examples, the reader is left with a "you had to be there" feeling, which, unfortunately, I don't think there's a way around. Harold is very much a "you had to be there" experience for both audience and performer. It's difficult to capture in words and in print the joy of seeing a spontaneous occurrence that takes both the performer and audience by complete surprise. I've found myself frequently recounting shows I've seen to uninterested or confused expressions, while the night before I was doubled over in laughter.
So, to sum it all up, if you're interested in learning Harold (especially if you're a student at the Improv Olympic) or picking up some very useful improv tools, give this book a gander. And if you have an old copy lying around, take another look. It's rare that I open this without finding something to inspire me or pull me out of an improv rut.
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Truth In Comedy: The Manual For Improvisation by Kim "Howard" Johnson (Paperback - May 5 1994)
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