A Funny Thing Happened at Mount Sinai
The Ten Commandments as a Guide to Improvisation
by Matthew Stillman
In 1996 Amy Poehler gave an improv class a stunning note about how the stage was her church and improv was her religion. It was the first few months that Matthew Stillman was learning and studying improv. She keyed her students into a vision that improv could teach you something about being a better person.
It spurred Stillman's thinking... If improv was Poehler's religion and it could teach people about being a better person could religion teach us anything about improv?
After reflecting and considering the question more deeply the answer is a definitive 'Yes, it can!"
The author is no Bible thumper either. This isn’t some backdoor way to make you believe in anything except that religion/philosophy can teach actors, improvisers and anyone interested something important about improv.
This book is improv theory nerdiness of a high order, But this book is also a well thought out argument that the 10 Commandments from the Bible offers some of the most important guidelines to improv since Truth in Comedy
I never realized I was adhering so strictly to the Judeo-Christian tenets until I read this book. I agree with Matt whole heartedly when he says “God is quite simply, the present moment” – Matt Walsh, UCB founding member, Director, The High Road
Matt Stillman is a student of the craft. He loves improv and everything improv related. This treatise on the 10 Commandments as they relate to improv is a fun and insightful read that can help any improviser look again at what is in their own Improv Commandments.” Ali Farahnakian, UCB founding member, founder of The People’s Improv Theater aka The PIT
“I have spent many countless hours, long into many nights, discussing and dissecting improv from many different angles. But rarely have I heard someone contemplate improv in a such a thoughtful, insightful and unique way as Matthew has done in this book. He is a smart guy who is full of love for improv and the people who do it.” – Kevin Mullaney, IRC, IRC Podcast, iO Theater, UCB
“This book’s wise, witty approach to the sacred and the spontaneous shows us how improvisers combine the two to create beautiful hilarity with integrity. A very funny read, and sharp insights in every paragraph! Great for anyone, whether you’ve improvised on stage or not.” – Jay Rhoderick, Centralia, Burn Manhattan