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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 17 August 2010
If you start with chapter 11, where it finally explains what this 'Harold' concept it's been babbling about is, skip everything that isn't a description of an actual game, since all the other advice is hopelessly vague, and mentally edit out enough name-dropping to fill a big book of baby's names, then it's got a couple of useable game ideas.

So fools' gold at best, though like Johnstone's books it's a seminal text (or, if you believe the authors' incessant self-promotion, the seminal text) - and like Johnstone's books it's made mostly obsolete by one of the authors' students. In this case, Mick Napier's 'Improvise'.
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on 13 March 2002
Longform improv is a bit like a spiritual practice. It's a very subtle and Zen-like process, it's so highly intuitive that it often seems psychic, it involves peak experiences of expanded awareness, and so on. It's the closest thing there is to magic (short of putting together flat-packed furniture).
This book is the only one which teaches you how to do it, because all the others are about short-form improv games. It's written by the people who created longform improv as we know it (including Del Close, who is commonly regarded as something of a Yoda in the improv world). The book oozes wisdom.
And it's not just one of the best improv manuals around, although there are some mighty fine ones (like Johnstone's Impro and Impro For Storytellers, and Viola Spolin's books). It's also a fabulous book for writing plays, sitcoms, sketches, all sorts.
Sadly, it lacks a chapter on flat-pack furniture assembly. But I did finally manage to put a chair together today. Hooray!
(Creak...)
It's comfy, too.
(Creeeak...)
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on 18 February 1997
Folks, there are two kinds of improv - the annoying kind and the enjoyable kind. This book is the only description of the enjoyable kind now in print. It's simple, straightforward and funny, and may change the whole way you think about comedy and theatrical presentations. The bad kind of improv, that is, the short, "we're under great pressure to be funny here" kind that leads to some clever punch-line on which lights are blacked out, is described in numerous books. The Harold, or long-form, is where it's at, as anyone who's seen both kinds of improv will tell you. (It's a shame the form is rarely practiced outside of Chicago.) Watching it is pure pleasure, because you're seeing players who support each other perform at the top of their intelligence and creativity. And doing it, well, there's nothing like it. This book will get you started.
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on 2 July 1998
Truth in Comedy is, in someways, a companion piece to the Chicago-based school operated by two of the book's authors. The book conveys the sense of joy and wonder that comes from creating comic genius and order from audience chaos. Charna Halpern and Del Close both still teach "The Harold" at the ImprovOlympic school/theater and the book (if you're planning to read the book while taking a "Harold" class, add TWO more stars!) Instead of quick comedic games designed for one-liners and "jokey" schtick, Truth In Comedy teaches a form that strives for art. Based on a single audience suggestion a team of improvisers follows the outline of The Harold to create a play with interweaving plotlines and characters for intelligent and hilarious comedy (think of a completely improvised Seinfeld epsidoe, or Pulp Fiction.)
Just one more thing: The photos in the book picture some veterans of the ImprovOlympic who are now somewhat famous in Comedy. Keep a look out for Andy Ricter (Late Night With Conan O'Brien), Adam McKay (Head Writer for Saturday Night Live), Miles Stroh (creator of 'Miles to Go'), and lots of others!
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on 3 February 2009
Truth in comedy is badly written, badly structured, verbose and difficult to read.
Improv is a difficult subject to write about. The best way to experience improv is to physically do it.
I have been doing improv classes and performances for one year. This is my first improv book. I was hoping it would compliment my knowledge and skills.
Having done improv, I could follow what the authors were saying.
I think for someone who has never done improv, this book will make little sense and won't give much pleasure.
It is a bible in improv groups, but I can't see why. I am disappointed.
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on 24 January 2010
Very helpfull, with a lot of ideas. If you are doing impro or teaching impro it helps you to remember a few details.
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on 17 September 2009
Interesting book with plenty of tips. Unless you are in an improv group though you wont get great use from it.
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on 18 May 2015
Absolute classic! Some parts are outdated. But the place where I'd recommend new players start.
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on 27 August 2014
Classic improv book and full of good tips and ideas.
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