Improvisation for the Spirit: Live a More Creative, Spontaneous, and Courageous Life Using the Tools of Improv Comedy Paperback – August 1, 2008
by Katie Goodman (Author)
“A practical, fascinating, and funny guidebook. I’ve already begun applying hints from Improvisation for the Spirit, and I’m hoping that from now on, when people point and laugh at me, it will be for more appropriate reasons. A delightful read, filled with wonderful strategies.”
– Martha Beck, Life Coach Columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, and author of Steering by Starlight
Wish you could gag your Inner Critic? Feeling blocked creatively? Want to make a big change, but fear taking the leap?
Comedy improv requires quick thinking, collaboration, getting out of your own way, and being in the moment without being a perfectionist. Katie Goodman, an internationally touring improv comedian and comedy writer, uses her witty and encouraging style to show you how to acquire the skills of improv comedy and apply them to every aspect of daily life. Along the way Goodman shares hilarious and insightful stories from her experiences onstage, as well as step-by-step exercises from her popular self-discovery workshops and retreats. Packed with creative, original, and, most importantly, fun exercises, Improvisation for the Spirit offers a truly transformational guide for anyone wanting to get more out of life.
“Bottom line: Katie is funny. She teaches you to live your life like an improv scene – no fear and fully committed.”
– Wayne Brady, improv comedian, Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Don’t Forget the Lyrics
“Katie Goodman’s writing fl ows and then jumps with anecdotes and prescriptions for finding courage. Fun to read, hard to put down.”
– Lesley Stahl, 60 Minutes
“If you feel that something is holding you back, that the life you are meant to live is out there somewhere if only you could fi nd it, then this book should go straight to the top of your reading list.”
– Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness and Under Pressure
From Publishers Weekly
A long-time, nationally touring comedian and contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine, first-time author Goodman manages to slip an improv-inspired free-for-all format and a good dash of humor into the self-help genre, making a winning and creative volume that will help the shy, the fearful, and the controlling to loosen up and enjoy life. Each of twelve chapters covers a concept such as “Be Open & Flexible” or “Allowing Imperfection”; Goodman explains the concept, provides anecdotes from her work (some are helpful and sincere, others seem to have been pulled off her publicity brochure) and encourages self-exploration with writing, drawing and doing exercises. Goodman’s advice is helpful for small issues, such as controlling self-doubt: “Our Inner Critic is trainable. Think Young Frankenstein singing ‘Puttin’ On the Ritz.'” Broader advice, however, may seem more appropriately applied to stage relationships than to real ones. Still, Goodman’s quirky, thoughtful approach and breezy tone should give wound-up readers some new ways to relax, relate and think about their lives.
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“Life: none of us get out of it alive, so isn’t it worth it to find ways to be ourselves, and enrich our lives at the same time? Katie wants us involved in the process and in Improvisation for the Spirit gives us the tools to construct the authentic self. An excellent read and resource.
” – Curled Up With a Good Book
About the Author
Katie Goodman is a nationally touring improv comedy actress as well as a comedy writer, award-winning actress, acting teacher and creative coach. Her creative workshop and her writing have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine. She is also the director and co-writer for Broad Comedy, a nationally touring women’s sketch company. She lives in Bozeman, Montana.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Excerpt from Chapter 1: The Spontaneous Life
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.
This chapter will help you restore your creative self-confidence, discover your potential, and have fun doing it! We begin with creative writing exercises that will help you spontaneously reach for the unexpected and perhaps riskier idea. This chapter offers ways to help you uncover your beliefs, judgments and self-doubts.
Many of you have seen the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? or perhaps an improv troupe. If so, then you know that comedy improvisational performances use hundreds of different types of “games”-we don’t usually call them sketches or skits, because there is no script. When my troupe performs, there are generally two to four actors per game, so we are always collaborating. The actors share a vision, like any team or group does. Ours is to make people laugh. We all have different styles, different backgrounds, and often, different agendas. This is high-risk creative work: high-risk in terms of our egos, mostly, but also in terms of pleasing the audience consistently. We are on stage, creating before an audience’s eyes, thinking on our feet. There’s no time for rewriting or rethinking. And yet, it’s not a total free-for-all. We do have rules. Each of these games has different guidelines, and for each game, we get different starting information from the audience so everybody knows it’s truly improvised.
For example, we generally start a scene by getting the audience to shout out a location where the scene will take place; sometimes we’ll ask for a pantomimed object that we have to work into the scene too. Those are then the criteria that we have to deal with. Our first goal is to create a scene incorporating these criteria in order to follow the rules of the game. Then, of course, we want to make it funny, interesting, and dramatic by adding conflict and plot. We need to share the stage with others (i.e., I shouldn’t totally dominate), and then, ultimately, the scene must resolve the conflict.
At one show, we started a scene with a couple coming home from a first date. The guy stopped at the girl’s front door. The director of the scene yelled, “Freeze!” and asked the audience to shout out who should come out of the front door. An audience member yelled, “Her mother!” So I walked through the door and said, “Oh, hi, sweetheart. Your husband’s on the phone.” The date looked shocked, and the daughter now had to work her way out of the conflict that I created. The result? The date went out with the mother instead. In improv we have two tasks at all times: actively listening to our scene partner’s ideas and then adding our own to complicate the story. The exchange and adaptation of information and ideas is the main goal for us.
And perhaps, for you. Nobody works in a vacuum. Life is one big collaboration. We collaborate with management teams, clients, family members, friends, PTA groups-even deciding with others which restaurant to pick for dinner is a collaboration. We create organizations from scratch, and we help others to grow. Raising children is a challenging form of collaboration. We can renew our energy for relating with others by seeing our lives as one big collaborative process.
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks (August 1, 2008)
Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 7 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds