Improv Group Publishes How-To Guide for Students

Group says book will transform students into “improv heroes”

The Immediate Gratification Players, one of two Harvard improvisational comedy groups, will be releasing its first published book, “So You Think You’re Funny: A Students’ Guide to Improv Comedy,” later this week.

The book, a how-to guide on improvisational comedy aimed at students, was written and edited collectively by all the members of last year’s IGP group.

“The book’s 12 chapters take you from doing your first improv scene to performing a show on the stage,” said IGP’s “czar” Scott A. Levin-Gesundheit ’11.

“There are very few books about improv aimed at a true beginner, and even fewer from the perspective of a student,” he said. “This book will truly turn someone from an improv nobody to an improv hero.”

Levin-Gesundheit added that the book’s planning process began nearly a year ago, with the writing occurring last spring and the editing over the summer.

“The idea of writing as an improv troupe sort of came naturally to us,” Levin-Gesundheit said. “Improv performance is thinking as a group and merging minds, and writing together was simply an extension of that.”

The group, founded in 1986, used its nearly 25 years of improv experience to craft a book that will appeal to both improvisation enthusiasts and other students, according to Levin-Gesundheit.

“Other people will want to read the book because improvisation uses a different part of the mind, and makes you think on your feet,” Levin-Gesundheit said. He then added sarcastically, “this book does even more than that—it provides a basic moral framework for day-to-day life.”

“They were very professional despite a lack of publishing experience,” said Theodore Zapel, executive editor at Meriwether Publishing and publisher of the book, in an e-mail. “When I received the IGP book proposal originally titled ‘Funny Kids’ late last year, I thought this book was unique in that it is written from the student’s perspective.”

He added that his company would be willing to work with IGP on another book in the future. “Now that they know how the publishing process works, the next book should go more smoothly and swiftly,” he said.

Sarah C. Haskins ’01, a former member of IGP who has read the book, wrote in an e-mail that the book has a “‘DIY’ focus that is valuable for people who want to do improv but don’t have a ready made improv community at hand.”

In reference to the group’s efforts, she added, “as an IGP alum, I am very proud they chose to do something so productive and lasting, whereas normally our accomplishments are silly and ephemeral. I hope they make billions of dollars.”

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