Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art

Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art

From the best-selling author of Fosse, a sweeping yet intimate?and often hilarious?history of a uniquely American art form that has never been more popular. At the height of the McCarthy era, an experimental theater troupe set up shop in a bar near the University of Chicago. Via word-of-mouth, astonished crowds packed the ad-hoc venue to see its unscripted, interactive, co From the best-selling author of Fosse, a sweeping yet intimate?and often hilarious?history of a uniquely Amer...

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Title:Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art
Author:Sam Wasson
Rating:
Genres:Nonfiction
ISBN:0544557204
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:464 pages pages

Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art Reviews

  • Duncan
    Jan 29, 2018
    Informative look at the history of improv, and how many well-known comedians/actors passed through Second City and other troupes. Bill Murray and Tina Fey come across particularly vividly in the recollections of fellow improvisers. I wished there had been more about the actual formats,...
  • Andrei Alupului
    Dec 24, 2017
    really solid and entertaining history - the notes section alone is a trove of cool stuff to follow through on, videos to check out, interviews to read, etc. the writing gets a lil clumsy i think, proportionate to the author's enthusiasm. like based on how he described some of the sctv ...
  • JBP
    Feb 07, 2018
    Exhaustive and comprehensive history of improvisational comedy--from its earliest beginnings to now. It focuses mostly on Chicago/Second City connections but it does go into Toronto, NYC, a little bit of L.A. I go to the Groundlings all the time [it's a 15 minute walk from my apartment...
  • David
    Oct 31, 2018
    This book traces the growth of improvisational comedy as an art form, which was almost completely unknown to me. In some ways, and not to its credit, the book's quality traces its subject: the first few chapters are hesitating, unclear and not particularly compelling, leading me to alm...
  • Chris
    Jun 05, 2018
    What a wonderful history and introduction to improvisational theater. It covers a lot of ground, so you may find yourself wanting more information on the players or feeling someone was left out. Nonetheless, it does a great job discussing the major trends and themes in improv and hitti...
  • Nick Scott
    Aug 09, 2018
    This was an interesting book to listen to, but as a history of how modern improv started and how it became this dominant American art form I think it's just alright. The focus here is on the big celebrity names that came from improv, which I think only tells part of the story. And I un...
  • James
    Jul 27, 2018
    From the birth to the current status of the art of improvisation which Sam Wasson believes is a true American art form like jazz. He goes from the inception created by a mix of European acting ethics and abstract realism that comes from the inner self ... no rules, just feel. It morphs...
  • Clark
    Jun 09, 2018
    As an improvisor and a long-time fan of most of the folks whose history with the form is chronicled in this book, I found it amazingly engaging. The recounting of the evolution of the form as it has passed through the minds and artistic souls of so many adherents and participants is no...
  • David
    Jan 16, 2018
    "They were creating constantly, and without the help of lighting, costumes, sets, script, or even story. In or out of the theater, Shepherd had never seen such interconnection. These people were all working together, like a family, to alchemize empty space into art." Rating: 5/5 ...
  • FittenTrim
    Feb 11, 2018
    NOTE: I know/knew a few of the people in this book; improvised at some of these theaters. Bringing the unruly history of improvisation into one book was always going to be difficult. IMPROV NATION does as well as one book could; though a tighter focus on the original Compass players w...
  • Craig Leimkuehler
    Apr 01, 2018
    This book is a must read for anyone who performs improv, enjoys improv or for that matter is alive and breathing. (Zombies will not enjoy it.) It gives a very detailed history about this aspect of comedy that is often overlooked. The one fault is that it fails to explain why Del Close ...
  • Evan Kostelka
    Jun 18, 2018
    I didn't have a large knowledge of older improv comedians going into this book, but after reading the book I see the progression from Mike & Elaine to Will Ferrell. The author presented the material energetically and in some cases, dramatically, leaving me hanging to read how the s...
  • Justin
    May 19, 2018
    I enjoyed this very much; it actually made me miss doing improv and I?m currently part of a team that performs and practices weekly. I appreciated the breadth of the book and that the author decentered Del Close?s place in improv?s invention. It is imperfect, as are all histories...
  • Robin
    Jan 03, 2018
    This is one of the all-time best books I?ve read. Even if it weren?t about Improv, it is so well written and gave so many great perspectives behind the history of Improv. I have found a greater appreciation for artists that I didn?t love before, and was introduced to some artists...
  • Gregory Butera
    Jan 08, 2018
    This is the hilarious story of America?s largest dysfunctional family, since it seems everyone really has worked with nearly everyone else in the improv comedy world. If you have any interest in improv comedy or comedians or the process of creating humor this is a must read. I just l...
  • Anne Downes
    Nov 20, 2018
    I won a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. I received this book during the same month that I signed up for an improv class, so the timing could?t have been better. Wasson writes with exhaustive detail in this book, giving us a microscopic view of each phase of improv. On...
  • Dan Lalande
    Jan 02, 2018
    Sam Wasson takes on what is, by his own humble admission, a formidable task: an inventory of the development and influence of American-style improv, from its proletariat origins in 1950's Chicago to its imprint on today's ubiquitous political satire. In the spirit of the brave ad-libbe...
  • Sarah Crisman
    Oct 23, 2018
    Best book I have read this year! A comprehensive journey through the history of American improvisation with in-depth perspectives from our greatest artists of this form. Wasson connects the dots of the varying schools of improvisational philosophy from the joy of Viola Spolin?s works...
  • Stewart Tame
    Nov 29, 2017
    Full disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. As you?d surmise, this is a history of the improv movement in the USA. Wasson presents it as an American artform--yes, there are antecedents in European traditions, but nothing quite like improv as the term i...
  • Jordan Parker
    Jan 20, 2018
    I was really excited for this one and it was kind of a letdown. For starters, it's a book about improv comedy that really isn't all that funny. With that being said, it does have moments that were really interesting but there are so many stretches(especially towards the beginning of th...
  • Phil
    Nov 30, 2018
    "The democratic spirit channeled through art," Sam Wasson sums up improv theater. He's not the first to express this, but for a survey, he may have explored its history more exhaustively than any other writer, particularly the early years of Viola Spolin and Paul Sills, on to Charna Ha...
  • Michael Brown
    Mar 09, 2018
    The author tried real hard to cover everything. Each section covered a group of years. In each section were various chapters that covered either groups, players, events or all of them. Too much time was spent at times on trivial points that seemed to not be continued later or part of f...
  • Erin
    Apr 18, 2018
    4.5 Stars. I enjoyed this very much, and it was cool to be introduced to improvisers who I had never known. Sometimes it was a bit difficult to keep all the details of the different personal histories in my brain, but I was impressed with how well so many threads of developing improv w...
  • Lyndsay West
    Apr 05, 2018
    Here's an excerpt from my review of this book on my blog. You can check out the rest of the review here: http://humpdayhardbacks.blogspot.com/... Stepping on my soapbox for a sec! Improv has significantly improved my life, and if you?re on the fence about taking a class, DO IT. I...
  • Dave
    Jul 19, 2018
    Wasson's Improv Nation traces the American art of improvisational theater from its workshop beginnings in the Fifties through its influences on such movies as the Graduate and to the great Improv theaters of Second City in Chicago and Toronto and the Groundlings in Los Angeles. In the ...
  • Melinda M
    Jan 31, 2018
    Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art by Sam Wasson is a history of Improv in American. It has wonderful notes filled with videos to watch as well as articles and books to read. It was interesting to find out how connect to each other that the performers all seemed to have wo...
  • Donna Hines
    Aug 07, 2018
    Sam charts the rise of the improv with many well known in the business of making people laugh. Fitting this all together was a bit pieced but that is to be expected based on the time constraints and locations. The discussions about well known improvs and the interactions with them wa...
  • Mary
    Dec 26, 2017
    Unlike the quirky creators of the art of improv and the many improvisors about whom the author so beautifully and lovingly writes, all of whom seem to know just what to say on the spur of the moment, I find myself at a loss for words to describe just how much I enjoyed this extraordina...
  • Hannah Petosa
    Dec 31, 2017
    I can?t even begin to describe how much this book means to me. When I first started reading it, I assumed it would be the history of improv. However, this was way more than just a history book. This is the story (or should I say, stories) of artists we have come to know and love and ...
  • Steve Lionel
    Dec 18, 2017
    Until I read Improv Nation, I had not realized how many comedians/actors I was familiar with had connections to Chicago's Second City. Sam Wasson starts in the 1940s with the birth of improvisational comedy and Viola Spolin and Del Close who taught classes in what was later to be calle...