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Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  17 reviews
T.J. and David are internationally known, award-winning, master improvisers from Chicago's legendary scene. This in-depth look at the techniques, principles, theory and ideas behind what they do is both authoritative and entertaining. Since their early years playing the iO (formerly Improv Olympic) and the Second City mainstage theater (where David won a Joseph Jefferson a ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published April 1st 2015 by Solo Roma, Inc
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Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010s
Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ & Dave Book (2015)
T.J. Jagodowski and Dave Pasquesi with Pam Victor (1971- and 1960- with I’m guessing 1980- )
Drama / instruction / art theory (220 pp.)

when; where
2001-2015, but starting as early as 1980s; improv theaters in Chicago (and New York)

A guide to TJ & Dave’s style of long-form improv: pay attention, everything’s already there.

Semi-Random Semi-Representative Sample:
Listening is all there is.

Bookstore Cat Sample:
It’s a shame that other emo
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I liked it - I don't think I was the target audience. This book was about how TJ and Dave improvise. It was very clear on that point. And one of the themes was that when they are on stage, they are improvising for each other. The target audience was TJ and Dave fans, and we learned about how they improvise.

See, for me, what I really wanted, was to learn how I could improvise more like them. And while I got some good tips and advice and understanding, that wasn't the main focus of the book. I und
Will Moritz
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Caveat to this entire book: it’s advice on how TJ and Dave approach improv in their show, not an optimal way to approach improv.
p.20: After their first outing, where they totally bombed:
“They realized that dissatisfaction with the current situation was fine. And that, in the future, it would be a better choice to stick in it and try to work their way through it rather than pop away from it. Although the impulse to want to live a potentially uninteresting scene was real, the reaction of bailing
Dan Richter
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Seit über zehn Jahren hat mich kein Buch über Improvisation und Theater dermaßen erschüttert.
2003 sah ich die beiden in Chicago, und obwohl ich von dem was sie sagten (viele kulturelle Referenzen, eine Menge Slang) nur wenig verstand, sah ich sofort, dass hier etwas Besonderes geschah: Zwei Improspieler, die eine komplette Stunde am Stück improvisierten, sich keine Vorschläge vom Publikum geben ließen, sondern an dieses einfach appellierten: "Vertraut uns, das ist alles improvisiert."
Nun hat sic
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Improvisation is the impossible dream..." Pam Victor concludes. Although, after reading about TJ and Dave's perspective, it seems slightly more tangible. I had the privilege to see TJ and Dave while I was reading this book, and seeing what I was reading about inspired me. Their approach to scenes, characters, the show, and even improv itself made sense to me. I want to grow up to be half the improvers that TJ and Dave are. So...this book is a goal. I'll be sharing it with my team, and probably ...more
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
A decent read. But it felt like the book wanted to be a documentary rather than a book. David comes off a bit pretentious throughout; and it's often mentioned how this type of improv can only truly be utilised when every player is in agreement that this is how they'll play. So following most of their advice is only serviceable when the team is in agreement that you'll all play this one particular way. The chapter at the end of the book of Practical Uses was very informative though; I'll probably ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've been taking improv classes to help me approach group and public situations more calmly and confidently. The way TJ and Dave talk about their craft, though, makes me think it's all really a metaphor for how to approach life.

"Before you try to figure out what's wrong with it, first figure out what's right with it."

"Follow the fear."

"Everything is already there."

If I get to apply a few of these lessons beyond my classes, that would be amazing.

Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After 1.5 years of study and indie performances, this book changed the way I do improv almost immediately. This seems to be the closest thing I've read to the simple ideas that Del Close seemed to preach like religion a few decades back (I haven't read Truth in Comedy yet).
"[your grand idea sucks. It will always suck.]"
"listening is all there is."
Honor the reality of the show at all costs.
React honestly.
Nick Scott
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
For improvisers looking to do what TJ & Dave do and what their process is like, this is the book to read. Some of the lessons here can be applied to improv in general, but much is very specific to exactly what they do (an hour-long show that takes place mostly in real time).

The book is laid out well, and the lessons and ideas are presented clearly. I really enjoyed their perspective on how scenes should work.
Martin John
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very helpful book on improv. Their method is unique, and deceptively simple: 'Listening is all there is.'
The book itself is just a string of interviews written up by Pam Victor, so most paragraphs seem to start with: "TJ and David believe..." That gets annoying, but it's worth ploughing on, because, to my knowledge, the advice given in this book hasn't been laid out (as clearly) anywhere else.
The other annoying thing is the flippant, unfunny little foreword by Amy Sedaris.
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am giving this book 5 stars because I think it's important.
Improvisational theater can be a lot more than a laugh machine (though there's nothing inherently wrong with that).
Improvisational theater can blow the tops of our heads off through terrific drama and character revelation.
These guys show one way to do that.
If this interests you, read the book.
Steve Lucero
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Written to discuss their style of improvisation, but many of the lessons can be applied to other styles. Perhaps their style doesn't graft perfectly onto short-form or other "quicker" styles of improv, but their lessons can be used for good, solid scene work regardless of the style.

I thought this book was great.
Evan Barden
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I could summarize this book by just repeating "be a better listener" for 200 pages. That said, there's a lot of good philosophy in here and some nice words. This book's structure stinks. I say all of this stuff while also thinking the world of these guys. They're better on stage than in print. ...more
Alejandro Sanoja
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the best book that I read during August 2019.

Important: Only for people that are looking to improve their improv skills.

The only reason it is not a 5 it's because although I think that the mindset shared in the book will help any human being, I think there are other books out there that will do so more directly without having to be so focused on the improv comedy topic.

For improvisers, this book it a 5-star book!

I've been talking non-stop about it to all my improv friends lately, and
Torben Stig
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
TJ & Dave makes an interesting distinction between discovery and invention. They believe you don't have to invent anything; everything is already there. All you have to do is pay attention and discover it. ...more
Jordan Regan
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Interesting, different take on a lot of the same thinking. It very much orients around TJ and David's show structure and playstyle. Looking forward to exploring and trying it out! ...more
Meghan Fitzmartin
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was magical. These two men are incredibly talented and I decidedly do NOT do comedy, I found this incredibly insightful for my own writing.
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