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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

Average Customer Ratings

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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

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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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

3 of 3 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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?

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Great concept, poor delivery

Couldn't get through the whole book as it was too annoying. The singsong lilt and the silly little bell and "tryyyy this" drove me nuts.
I think the book is worth reading. The audio is not worth listening to.

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Loved this book!

What a fun read and PACKED with info/valuable exercises. I only wish I'd taken more notes throughout since I'm sure I'll forget a bunch! If you're at all interested, I definitely recommend giving this a listen and being diligent about writing down the tips and exercises you hope to implement after the fact.

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Must read for everyone! This is an improvised book review:)

If you liked the Art of Possibility, you will surely enjoy this book. The Imrov Wisdom provides great life lessons and reminds that there is more to life than planning and preparing. I will definitely be coming back to this book over and over again. The exercises are a lot of fun. I already started practicing them as I listened to the book and felt a great joy from doing it. I am very grateful to the author for sharing this gold wisdom with the world! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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not what I was expecting

was anticipating something completely different but was pleasently surprised with the content. narration wasn't to my taste but the exercises and insights held my attention.