Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art

Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art Review

From the best-selling author of Fosse, a sweeping yet intimate—and often hilarious—history of a uniquely American art form that has never been more popular.

At the height of the McCarthy era, an experimental theater troupe set up shop in a bar near the University of Chicago. Via word-of-mouth, astonished crowds packed the ad-hoc venue to see its unscripted, interactive, consciousness-raising style. From this unlikely seed grew the Second City, the massively influential comedy theater troupe, and its offshoots—the Groundlings, Upright Citizens Brigade, SNL, and a slew of others.   
Sam Wasson charts the meteoric rise of improv in this richly reported, scene-driven narrative that, like its subject, moves fast and digs deep. He shows us the chance meeting at a train station between Mike Nichols and Elaine May. We hang out at the after-hours bar Dan Aykroyd opened so that friends like John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner would always have a home. We go behind the scenes of landmark entertainments from The Graduate to Caddyshack, The Forty-Year Old Virgin to The Colbert Report. Along the way, we commune with a host of pioneers—Mike Nichols and Harold Ramis, Dustin Hoffman, Chevy Chase, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, Alan Arkin, Tina Fey, Judd Apatow, and many more. With signature verve and nuance, Wasson shows why improv deserves to be considered the great American art form of the last half-century—and the most influential one today.   
 

Title:Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Full disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. As you’d surmise, this is a history of the improv movement in the USA. Wasson presents it as an American artform--yes, there a...

  • really solid and entertaining history - the notes section alone is a trove of cool stuff to follow through on, videos to check out, interviews to read, etc. the writing gets a lil clumsy i think, prop...

  • I can’t even begin to describe how much this book means to me. When I first started reading it, I assumed it would be the history of improv. However, this was way more than just a history book. This...

  • Unlike the quirky creators of the art of improv and the many improvisors about whom the author so beautifully and lovingly writes, all of whom seem to know just what to say on the spur of the moment, ...

  • This is the hilarious story of America’s largest dysfunctional family, since it seems everyone really has worked with nearly everyone else in the improv comedy world. If you have any interest in imp...

  • Until I read Improv Nation, I had not realized how many comedians/actors I was familiar with had connections to Chicago's Second City. Sam Wasson starts in the 1940s with the birth of improvisational ...

  • Sam Wasson takes on what is, by his own humble admission, a formidable task: an inventory of the development and influence of American-style improv, from its proletariat origins in 1950's Chicago to i...

  • This is one of the all-time best books I’ve read. Even if it weren’t about Improv, it is so well written and gave so many great perspectives behind the history of Improv. I have found a greater ap...

  • There’s a very thin line between improv and sketch comedy, and even standup comedy. Was son makes an admirable effort to establish improv as a unique art form but never quite succeeds, largely becau...

  • Very informative and entertaining look at how improv really took root in America. The third section of the book I feel should have been part of a second, longer book because you can feel Wasson's lase...