My students often ask for reference material. I keep my list of favorites on this page. A more extensive list including brief reviews can be found on Improv Encyclopedia. All books listed can easily be found on Amazon & other retailers.
- “Impro for Storytellers”, by Keith Johnstone. One of my all-time favorites and a riot to read.
- “Impro”, by Keith Johnstone. Older than the one listed above and harder to read. But still a must-read
- “Directing Improv: Show the way by getting out of the way”, by Asaf Ronen. One of the few books that specifically addresses directing.
- “Improvise: Scene from the inside out”, by Mick Napier. A more recent take on improv than Keith J.’s. Excellent book!
- “How to Improvise a Full-Length Play”, by Kenn Adams. One of the few books specifically on long form. Ken’s approach could not be farther from mine, but it’s equally valuable (otherwise I would not have listed it here).
- Improv Encyclopedia is the web’s largest repository of improv games, handles & formats.
- There are several groups active on Facebook:
- Improvizational theatre – group for players worldwide – probably the largest group; very internationally oriented (they do not allow local posts)
- Improv Theatre & Festival Management – also internationally oriented, but with a specific focus on festivals.
- “Musical Improv Comedy – Creating Songs in the Moment”, by Michael Pollock. This book is a complete guide to the art of Musical Improv Comedy. Pollock goes into song theory (how is a song structured), rhythm and tempo, endings and much more. Comes with a CD.
- “Muscial Direction for Improv and Sketch Comedy”, also by Michael Pollock. Does what is says on the cover. Comes with a CD
- “Instant Songwriting – Musical Improv from Dunce to Diva“, by Nancy Howland Walker & Marshall Stern. Excellent book with an (in my eyes) extremely structured approach to mounting an improvised musical. Book purchase gives access to an mp3 library on the book’s site.
- Laura Hall – of Who’se Line is it Anyway fame – published a book “The Improv Musician“. Laura also has 2 “Improv Karaoke” CDs. She has audio on her site: you can hear the tracks, but with commentary and improvized lyrics on top of them.
Here are some interesting sites:
- Neil Figuracion runs a Facebook group Musical Improv Shop Talk. Not super active but you’ll find some great and focussed discussions there.
- Joe Samuel & Heather Urquhart run Open Your Mouth & Sing (musicalimprovcomedy.co.uk). Their site has 20+ excellent podcasts. They have or had a book out but it’s not clear to me whether you can actually purchase it today (May 2017).
- Kris Anderson used to maintain musicalhotspot.com. He doesn’t seem to post new material, but what he has available is excellent.
There is excellent video material to be found on-line as well. Too much to list all of it, so I’ll limit myself to some favorites:
- Nancy Howland Walker (of Dunce to Diva fame in the books section) has some impressive videos from a performance of “Matrix – the Musical” on YouTube.
- Baby Wants Candy has a YouTube channel with a big list of clips of excellent examples of improvised songs.
- Here’s a fairly old YouTube clip from BATS (Bay Area Theatre Sports) that I happen to like a lot. I show it often in my introduction workshops: Crushing Icecubes.