Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art

Sam Wasson, read by David De Vries. HighBridge Audio, , unabridged, 13 CDs, 15.5 hrs., $44.99 ISBN 978-1-6844-1064-4
De Vries does a remarkable job of narrating Wasson’s sweeping history of American improvisational comedy, which begins in a Chicago bar in the McCarthy era and covers the emergence of groups such as Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, and the cast of Saturday Night Live. De Vries’s whimsical tones capture the eccentric working relationship of the groundbreaking team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May as they move from stage to film. In rendering the heartbreaking passages related to comedic superstars John Belushi and Chris Farley—both of whom died from drug overdoses at the age of 33—De Vries provides a wistful tenor of regret in the reactions of their friends and colleagues. De Vries also ably handles the rapid transitions in the narrative with skill, pausing just enough to shift gears so that listeners can keep up. With the exception of providing vivid mimicry of Bill Murray’s performance as the gopher-hunting groundskeeper in the movie Caddyshack, De Vries does not attempt to imitate celebrity voices. Rather, he devotes the bulk of his energy to the narrative at large and in doing so skillfully keeps listeners attuned. A HMH/Dolan hardcover. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2018
Release date: 12/01/2017
Genre: Audio
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-544-55825-0
Hardcover - 464 pages - 978-0-544-55720-8
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