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Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up
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Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  681 ratings  ·  84 reviews
In an irresistible invitation to lighten up, look around, and live an unscripted life, a master of the art of improvisation explains how to adopt the attitudes and techniques used by generations of musicians and actors.

Letâs face it: Life is something we all make up as we go along. No matter how carefully we formulate a âscript,â it is bound to change when we interact with
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Hardcover, 160 pages
Published May 3rd 2005 by Bell Tower (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,579)
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Deb
**Living well = Improvising wisely**

Ohmygoodness. Is this book ever a gift!

I actually checked this book out of the library a few years ago, and life happened, and I never got a chance to read it before it was due. But then, the Universe sent me a gentle reminder (thanks, L!) that this wisdom was just what I needed to read. Right here. Right now.

Right on.

Just looking at the book's table of contents (which has an uncanny overlap to my own working draft of How To Do Life) was soul-jolting:
1. Say ye
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Jane Stewart
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 ho
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Scott Wozniak
This isn't really a book about improv. It's a life philosophy inspired by improv principles. Mostly, it can be summed up as relax, say yes more often, be okay with mistakes, and be present in the moment. It's not bad advice in general. It isn't particularly powerful and it certainly isn't original.

She most often quotes other Zen thinkers, along with a few other sources. She shares her story (from careful rule follower to free spirited improv teacher) and it's both relevant and fun to learn.

It w
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Eleonora
Nov 09, 2008 Eleonora rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Eleonora by: Dave Pollard’s blog.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tim Holme
The first half is good, and inspiring as it hits the high points of improv -- say "yes", for example. That's the best tip in the book, and unfortunately, I already knew it, so I didn't find much new here. And the second half of the book loses its way into the self help pathos, which was a downer after the excitement of the beginning.
May-Ling
there's so much wisdom in these 160 pages, and although it may sound improv-focused, the content really applies to your whole life. what's great about this book is that ideas are simple and concise, really packing all of the author's thoughts into the fewest words possible - it's an efficient book.

i especially love how "just show up" is in the title, as madson says a lot about how being in the room and also full present already goes a long way towards getting somewhere. i think back on this week
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Peter
Improv wisdom, by Patricia Ryan Madson, is a delightful book that invites the reader to apply 13 basic principles (or “maxims”) of improvisation to our daily life situations. While clearly rooted in the tenets of improvisation, the book also reveals subtle influences of Eastern thought including Zen and Yoga which, like improve, guide us to be fully focused in the present moment, and direct our thoughts and energies towards harmony, collaboration, and kindness. The maxims are:

1. Say Yes
2. Don’t
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Jacopo
Un manuale ben strutturato che va direttamente al punto e offre parecchi spunti di pratica per incorporare l'essenza della vita: l'improvvisazione. Personalmente l'ho trovato illuminante non tanto per i concetti esposti, quanto per il modo in cui l'autrice ha unito i puntini del mio percorso di miglioramento personale, facendomi capire che il minimo comune denominatore delle mie ultime letture e dei miei recenti interessi è proprio il voler ritrovare la spontaneità ed essere in grado di improvvi ...more
Kate
What a great little book! I had a feeling that working with improv could be a spiritual experience, and, sure enough, a friend pointed me to this little work. I want to try doing a spirituality group focused on the exercises here.
Alli
It's a better-than-average self-help book, build on some research and experience as the author is on the Stanford drama faculty. I liked the references to Japanese cultural and language having lived there and been pretty engaged with the culture for a while that helped me hook into some of the ideas and the maxims. Overall, it was a pretty pleasant and novel take on the usual suspects for ways to live better. Some *highlights* on things that were particularly resonant and/or are _difficult_ for ...more
Fred Darbonne
Drawing on her four decades of teaching, most of it as a member of the Stanford University drama faculty, Patricia Madson presents a counter-intuitive argument for the value of improvisational skills in other areas of our lives. Accordingly, its genre is classified as self-help, rather than some category of the performance arts.

Her argument for loosening up, paying close attention to other people and what is around us, and thinking on our feet is compelling. She is careful to note that a success
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Betsy
There's a lot of good advice in this pop psych/self-help book - but it is a pop psych/self-help book. I wanted more substance, more depth. It's an interesting take on pop psych to use the rules of improvisation to give life advice, but it is lite, lite, lite. (Spelling, here, is deliberate.)
Ryan
Have been taking improv classes and this book distills some of the great lessons from the experience and how it translates to the world. Remember when Tina Fey said in Bossypants that improv was key to her success? This book shows it. Yes and!
Lessabouchard
Great kick in the pants for any artist that enjoys process thinking- particularly about how their work-style and life-style effect each other. The kind of prodding that feels sooooo good.
Doug
Sep 16, 2014 Doug rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
When you do improv, you get to this place where you realize the skills you build up are applicable to the rest of your life as well. Listening carefully, responding honestly, being bold, having fun. "Hey! This applies to the way I parent!" "Hey! This applies to the way I teach!" "Hey! This applies to the way I deal with clients!" I'm not saying the insight is trivial, it's not, but it's something everyone comes to after they've done enough 'prov.

So if you are an improvisor, I don't know how much
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Becca
Because of this book... I make my bed every morning!
Craven
Found this looking for books on improv.Certainly was some good advice on improv and the life stuff ain't so bad neither. You Probably don't need to read the book, though, because this is the gist of it:

The Twelve Maxims of Improv
1. Say yes.
2. Don't Prepare.
3. Just Show Up.
4. Start Anywhere.
5. Be Average.
6. Pay Attention.
7. Face the Facts.
8. Stay On Course.
9. Wake Up To The Gifts.
10. Make Mistakes, Please.
11. Act Now.
12. Take Care of Each Other.
13. Enjoy the Ride.
Mangoo
It is an easy experience of readers running through bookshelves in American(-style) bookshops: they are (over)crowded with self-help books and self-improvement and killer books disclosing how to unmistakenly achieve success over competitors lurking behind every corner. This speaks books by itself of the cultural feel (and void, I guess) and standing of the average American reader, though arguably it has also genuinely to do with an inborn aspiration to emergence among difficulties, in the spirit ...more
Ali
You know a book has struck a chord when you begin imagining the syllabus you would create around a university course devoted to its study. I have long been searching for a book that summarizes my own discoveries in acting and Improv Wisdom seems to come close. Patricia Ryan Madson writes with the gentle, simple, seasoned reminders of a kindred spirit and with the humor and grace of your all-time favorite teacher. Upon reading this book, I wanted to BE Madson-to live like her-to think like her a ...more
Claire
Reading Voix de Michele's tales of improv and Colleen the Communicatrix's review peaked my interest in improv wisdom, so I checked out a copy from the library. Well worth reading. (Thanks for recommending it, Colleen!)

The basic premise is that the tenets of improv performing can also be applied to life. "Say yes," "just show up," "start anywhere," "make mistakes, please" to name a few. Each chapter contains examples of its maxim from her life and her students' experiences, as well as experiments
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Jason
My friend Matt Griffin, an improv actor, introduced me to improv theatre a few years ago. I was hooked. I came across this book about a year ago and have wanted to read it. It is a wonderful read. Part improv book and part self-help, the author takes the principles of improv and applied them to life. Mrs. Madson makes one point clear to me: life is not scripted but improvised daily. I recommend this book for its simple message and brevity.
Andrea Mullarkey
This is a small book with lots of good advice on problem solving, staying motivated, and keeping life moving forward. None of it is particularly new or earthshaking but it was nice to have it all in one little spot. I also liked the organization into bite-size chapters because it enabled me to take one lesson each day and really try it on. Madson’s suggested actions were also helpful. I found myself one day asking over and over “what is my purpose here” and though it felt hokey at first it did o ...more
Nicole
Such an incredible book with so many nuggets of wisdom. I came alive reading this. I loved all the fun games it suggested to try. I teach improv, perform improv and am always saying improv games can apply to life. This book proved it. I loved the quotes from this book and positivity surrounding it!
Sergei_kalinin
13 правил и 55 упражнений, которые помогут вам стать импровизатором по жизни :) Очень неплохая книга по саморазвитию; читается легко, но с довольно серьёзной базой (автор - профессор Стэнфорда).

Подробная рецензия + подборка самых интересных упражнений из книги в моём блоге: http://s-kalinin.blogspot.ru/2014/06/...
Ty
this is a tiny book which was written by a Drama professor teaching "Improvisation" at Stanford. she took lessons from her teaching career and mixed them up with some Zen concepts she picked up wandering the world and tossed out a little gem that is fun to read. the book is structured around a list of maxims, with explanations, anecdotes and thought exercises for each. maxims such as "Say Yes!", "Don't Prepare", "Pay Attention", "Face the Facts", "Make Mistakes, Please" (among many others) are a ...more
Joseph
13 maxims or rules proposed.

I think the book makes a lot of sense i.e. provides an 'alternative'/complementary view to a structured way of thinking. It's everything but preplanned, detailed analysis and structured thinking. Of course the longer term of things should be planned e.g. education, work, health etc but it's the moments throughout the journey that things should be held in tension, i.e. alternating between careful planning and spontaneous action.

Highly recommend this book to people wi
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Miranda
My 2nd favourite self-help books to date! LOVE!
Dan Schwartz
A bible for the mindful, curious, and loving :)
Marco Reeuwijk
Awesome, simple, oh so true. Handbook for life!
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