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Improv Wisdom

Don't Prepare, Just Show Up
Narrated by: Patricia Ryan Madson
Length: 4 hrs and 55 mins
4 out of 5 stars (222 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In an irresistible invitation to lighten up, look around, and live an unscripted life, a Stanford University professor and master of the art of improvisation explains how to adopt the attitudes and techniques used by generations of musicians and actors. These secrets are currently being taught to entrepreneurs, engineers, and first responders in a crisis as well as housewives and Alzheimer caregivers.

Let's face it: Life is something we all make up as we go along. No matter how carefully we formulate a "script", it is bound to change when we interact with people with scripts of their own. Improv Wisdom shows how to apply the maxims of improvisational theater to real-life challenges - whether it's dealing with a demanding boss, a tired child, or one of life's never-ending surprises. Patricia Ryan Madson distills 30 years of experience into thirteen simple strategies, including "Say Yes", "Start Anywhere", "Face the Facts", and "Make Mistakes, Please", helping readers to loosen up, think on their feet, and take on everything life has to offer with skill, chutzpah, and a sense of humor.

©2005 Bell Tower, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House (P)2007 Patricia Ryan Madson

What members say

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  • Overall
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Fantastic

Any additional comments?

I recommend this book to anyone who wish to imbody the present moment at its best. Its as practical as theorical and really get straight to the point. Even giving little ''try this'' at each end of a tip. I not only recommend this book to people who want to do inprovisation comedy as we commonly know it. but to everyone who wish to be able to think freely in every moment at its best and act on it. Thank to patricia :D

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 03-19-14

Not what I expected.

This is more about adding variety and enjoyment to your life. She gives suggestions like go to bed 1 hour earlier, get up 1 hour earlier, walk a different way when going someplace. For one day smile at everyone you see. Say thank you frequently and with details. Mistakes are good.

My favorite improv rule is say “Yes And.” Don’t say “Yes But.” Also don’t say “No.” I heard that before I read this book, and I was hoping for more ideas like that, which I did not get. I was also hoping for a lot of examples from improv skits. I only remember one example, but there may have been more. The example I remember was about the value of making “mistakes.” The skit was a group of nuns. One of them was named Sister Agnes. A guy knocks at the door and asks for Sister Agnes. The girl says I’ll go get her. Then she realizes she was Sister Agnes, so she says something like “Oh I forgot, that’s me. Sometimes we nuns all look alike.”

I do not recommend this for someone who wants to learn about improv on stage. I see it as how to open yourself up to new things in life. I might have given it more stars if she added a lot of skit examples.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
The author narrates her own book. She was a good reader, but her accent had an interrupting effect, not bad but it was there. I kept wondering what it was when she said words like Stuart, student, and our.

Genre: self help psychology

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Teri
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 05-03-13

Simple, solid solutions.

This is a simple walk through of various business, social, and creative situations, where we learn to build up our inventory of manageable traits that will then navigate us straight through any storyline that lays ahead.
This will give us a strength and it is entertaining.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Phenomenal book and you can apply it to business

This book was an excellent study for improv and acting. However, it was even better for applying to business. I highly recommend you read it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Change your life for good

Listen to this book with practical prompts to energize even your most mundane task. I’ll bet you’ll find yourself wiser, smiling and more fully alive with new and good ideas for a more exhilarating life. This is about being — not becoming. Fun, deep, inspiring from a real, experienced, true news, good news author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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definitely worth your time!

if your stuck in a box your whole life. your life sucks. this book will guide you to a more fun existence. it sure opened my eyes to the potential of daring to let things happen. i forget sometimes that behind my own bullshit fears of not being good enough, life is pretty dang awesome. give it a listen. do you have anything to lose?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Only loosely about improv

I discovered this title from the art of charm podcast. When listening to the author being interviewed, I was interested in her explanation of listening. It seemed that the importance of listening was what made a lightbulb go off in my head. This whole book, though, made me very cynical and annoyed.

I am involved in improv comedy myself, and this book was way too wishy-washy and optimistic for my dry, sarcastic, and "comedic" outlook on life. I didn't get a sense of the author's own sense of humor at all, which puzzles me a little bit (how did she get her job if she's not funny?). I felt a major divide between myself, in my 20s and pursuing artistic endeavors, and the author, who is obviously of an older and much more innocent generation.

But for someone who teaches improv at a college level, she doesn't include too many technical explanations of the craft. It's very vague, very general, like "just have fun and feel good." Easier said than done. If this is a self-help book, which I'm not against listening to, please give better, more practical advice than "be nice every day," or whatever.

If you've taken even the most basic improv class, you probably wont learn anything new in here. If you enjoy "feel good" books, and like the "thought" of improv, looking from the outside in, then this could probably be good for you. I'm sure lots of people can benefit from this book, but it just did not do it for me.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Thoughtful & Masterful

Working in emergency management education - I was a little unsure about the “Don’t Prepare” aspect of this book, yet I found so much value in the maxims and stories very relevant to the emergency management profession- a profession that plans, prepares and then is most successful when embracing improvisation! I am grateful for this well organized book and I look forward to sharing with my colleagues.

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This book is for Martha!

This book is ok. I get why it was one of the recommended textbooks in one of our coaching courses. Since I am more of a ‘Mary’ than a ‘Martha’, the suggestions in the books seemed to be natural for me already.

In the language of Strengths Finder, this book is perfect to develop your ‘Adaptability’ talent theme.

Being more of a spontaneous kind of guy, I wished I could’ve gotten just a summary of this in Blinkist or Instaread. Still, I finished the entire book and found a few nuggets of wisdom I can keep and use in the future.

Recommended for listeners who want to inject more ‘Positivity and Adaptability’ in their lives.

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More of a memoir

I appreciate anyone doing anything creative, so criticizing a work like this isn't easy for me. When one chooses 1 star for a rating, Audible describes that as "Not for me." I think that's an ideal description of my reaction.

If one is looking for something more like a memoir about a person involved in the improv community, then this book might be ideal. I wasn't. I was hoping to hear more about what does and doesn't work when doing improv. This isn't that. It doesn't make it wrong.

The performance didn't appeal to me either. It felt a lot like I was being talked to like a 12-year-old.