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Book Review: Improv Wisdom By Patricia Madson

I have to love the book that introduced me to the term, bricolage, or as Madson puts it, “use what is there artfully.”  Improv Wisdom by Patricia Madson is a must-read for improvisers but still a good read if all you know about improv is Drew Carey in “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Madson, chair of the undergraduate acting department at Stanford and creator of the Stanford Improvisors, lists 13 maxims of improv and coaches on how these relate to life at large, not just on stage.  The subtitle of the book, “Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up” are two of the maxims. Bricolage was in the chapter on Make Mistakes, Please.  Other insightful chapters include Be Average, Face the Facts, and Stay On Course. 

You will likely enjoy the book more if you have improv in your experience because Madson doesn’t take too much time explaining the concepts.  But her ability to draw parallels between what could be seen as pithy improv rules and important life concepts is impressive.   This book is a fast read, thoroughly enjoyable, and incredibly deep.


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4 Responses

  1. ejly says:

    Thanks for the review, I’ve added this to my reading list.

  2. Few things please an author more than to have her work reviewed with such understanding. I am delighted that this book speaks to the important world of coaching. Your service clearly promotes many of the common sense ideas that I am trying to share through the metaphor of improvising. Thank you for spreading the word about Improv Wisdom and for taking the time to share this with your readers and clients.
    Warmest regards,
    Patricia Ryan Madson

  3. You’re very welcome. I have blogged about this book on other sites, as well. It’s a terrific read and I hope it inspires a new wave of improvisers. I look forward to your follow-up!

  4. You’re welcome. I try to pick out helpful coaching books from a range of industries. Next week I review a book about extreme career change: the biography of a CEO turned inner-city math teacher. Stay tuned!

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