A colorful, spirited gem for aspiring actors or groups looking to improve teamwork.




A book provides guidelines for learning the art of improvisation.

Debut author Schindler is a founding member of Chicago City Limits, New York City’s longest-running improv comedy show, and Soter (You Should Get a Cat, 2016, etc.) is a producer and performer for Manhattan’s Sunday Night Improv. Together in this how-to manual, the duo seeks to make learning improvisation creative and fun. Beginning with a brief history (improv has Chicago roots), the work quickly jumps into the nuts and bolts of slapstick “comedy of the moment.” Instead of scripts, improv performers are given prompts—from the troupe, a partner, or even the audience—and they must learn to act naturally and off the cuff. Chapters begin with footnoted quotes, mostly from actors—like John Cleese of Monty Python’s Flying Circus—and then key concepts are explained for the novice. While it may seem ironic to have rules for spontaneous acting, the authors’ tenets are meant to help newcomers learn to work in sync with other actors. For example, in the guideline “accept all offers,” if an acting partner presents an imaginary cup of coffee, an improviser should take it and develop that idea instead of asking for tea and stopping the flow of the scene. Exercises and games are also included; for example, in “Silent Partner,” one team member must stay quiet, communicating only with body language and facial expressions. Packed with action photos from the authors’ careers (some contain famous faces, like Robin Williams’), the easy-flowing layout is eye-catching. Memorable analogies are used to explain key concepts; for example, building a scene is compared to constructing a house, brick by brick. Most intriguingly, the buoyant chapters end with examples from the authors’ own seasoned careers, such as the times they achieved “group mind,” which caused them to perform seamlessly with their partners. Quirky and lighthearted (at the end of the introduction, the authors proclaim, “Read on, MacDuff”), this lively romp through the improv world is accessible for both high school and adult readers.

A colorful, spirited gem for aspiring actors or groups looking to improve teamwork.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-5115-4453-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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