So it’s happened. Tj and Dave have written a book: “Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The TJ and Dave Book, with the help of Pam Victor, you might know her from her wonderful blogs “My Nephew is an Improv Poodle.” This is a huge step forward for the improv community. TJ and Dave’s work has influenced modern day improv and now we get to take a look inside to see how they do it.
There are a lot of books about improv out there but this one promises to be about the experiences and thoughts about improv from the masters themselves. The National Improv Network was lucky enough to get an interview with TJ, Dave and Pam here is what they had to say:
What prompted you guys to write the book after all these years?
TJ: We found that the books that were out there about improvisation were all well written and helpful so we decided to do something about that.
Is the book biographical, instructional a little of both?
TJ: Closer to a little bit of neither. I would say it’s primarily a collection of thoughts about improvisation. What has worked for us and how we think about it.
With the improv world expanding more than ever, there’s practically a theater and festival in every state now. What do you see happening to improv in the next 10 years?
TJ: I really don’t know. I’m guessing it will keep getting bigger. It seems that more people from every walk of life are finding it somehow. It seems to be a word that more people understand now. It’s so damn good I don’t know why it would ever get any less known than it it now.
Dave: I imagine it will follow the trajectory of the proliferation of stand-up in the 80’s and the housing market in the early 2000’s: boom and bust. Though with more economic impact than the latter.
What do you hope improvisors get out of your book?
TJ: Any little thing that helps or clarifies or excites.
Dave: Maybe a different way to think about this stuff that they have not yet been exposed to. and hopefully it will be helpful for those improvisers…and not merely be confounding.
Pam: Speaking as an evolving improviser, the book has been all of the above for me.
Is this book for improvisors of all levels of experiences?
TJ: I think so. I think at its heart it goes to the basic basic center of how you can improvise and in that, I think anybody might find some benefit from it.
Dave: I think it’s for folks who are interested in improvisation.
Pam: Personally, I tend to think of the book as a PhD in improvisation. Although improvisers of all levels will hopefully find interesting and helpful stuff in there, I am excited that this book could really be useful for experienced improvisers who have been around the block a few times. I have been performing for over a decade and I learned a tremendous amount from getting TJ and David’s approach to the page – more and more each time I went over the material. So I hope it will be useful for people to refer back to as they progress through their improv lives. I know that’s how it’s been for me.
Are you guys different players outside of your duo? Or do you commit to the same philosophies?
TJ: The same philosophies are at heart but different shows are made to do different things. An Armando is not a Harold is not our show, so the player is still the same but the job of the player may be different.
Dave: I think improvisation is improvisation, so for me, the principles stay the same regardless of the specifics.
You have your own theater space The Mission Theater. How has that been going and what has been your biggest challenges having your own space?
TJ: The biggest challenges are getting people to come and figuring out how to run a business. Outside of that, artistically it’s going well. We are really proud of the shows that go on in there. We are working on our second sketch revue, Undressed, and they’re awesome. The house ensemble is incredibly strong and good. We really like the people doing shows in there right now.
Is there going to be any book signings or events we can catch you at?
Pam: On April 1st at The Mission all three of us will be signing books and doing a Q & A moderated by Kim “Howard” Johnson. Tickets are free and can be reserved through the iO box office. More info at missiontheaterchicago.com. Howard, by the way, is the editor of Truth in Comedy and the author of The Funniest One in the Room, among other terrific books. He also was on one of the first Harold teams ever at Improv Olympic, Baron’s Barracudas, with Dave. Oh, and he helped edit our book too. Good guy.
Where can we purchase the book?
Pam: Our book release party is on April 1st at 6pm at The Mission Theater in Chicago, where the book will be on sale from that date on to forevermore. It’s currently available for order online (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.).
We here at NIN are excited to get a chance to read this. We will be posting our review of it soon and would love to hear from our community and see what you think so please drop us a line when you read it.
To purchase the Improvisation at the Speed of Life: The Tj and Dave Book visit HERE and get it today!
Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia a non-profit improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also teaches improv throughout the country.