The Manila Improv Fest is happening this week, and as part of their week’s events, they are holding a workshop at Fully Booked High Street (it’s literally happening right now, as we write this blog entry!). Acclaimed author, journalist, producer and founder of the Applied Improvisation Network, Paul Z. Jackson, talks about improvisation as a solution to the challenges facing leaders.

We caught up with some of the folks at Manila Improv Fest which gathers an international group of improvisation enthusiasts to talk about their favorite books, and here’s what they told us:


Gabe Mercado

Renowned funny man Gabe (@gabemercado) is at the forefront of S.P.I.T. (Silly People’s Improvisational Theater), and is one of the organizers of the ongoing festival. He says: “If it’s serious books, I like Truth in Comedy by Del Close, Charna Halpern and Kim Johnson. And, Improvisation for the Theater by Viola Spolin and Paul Sills. If it’s for leisure…I’m the type of guy that, if there’s a set of books that I like, I just keep reading and reading them. I’m a nerd; I like Lord of the Rings trilogy. And there’s a very hard to find series…it’s a five-part series, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. It was made in the 70s and it’s just a series that I really like.”


Paul Z. Jackson

“There’s one [book] that stands out above all the others and that’s Impro by Keith Johnstone. It’s a marvelous book. He wrote it for people in theater, but it’s got so much more application. It’s stories about life, and education, and how we get some of our creativity knocked out of us at school, and then the possibility of getting it back again. That was a life-changing book for me. And it’s one of the few books I’ve read several times.

“The next favorite books are the ones that I wrote: Impro Learning: 58 and 1/2 Ways To Improvise in Learning. This has has ‘impro’ in the title as a tribute to Keith Johnstone, and it’s a book of activities. The Solutions Focus: An Approach to Change, which I co-wrote that with Mark McKergow. And Positively Speaking, a book about more constructive conversations, which a co-wrote with Janine Waldman.”


Joi Natividad

“I run Management Strategies [a management consulting company that provides people-driven solutions to optimize individual and organizational performance ]. I really like John Grisham, Scott Patterson and David Baldacci books. I also enjoy chick lit!”


Curt Mabry
U.S.A. and Shanghai

“Truth in Comedy. It’s not the definitive source of improv—certainly I would think that’s probably Impro by Keith Johnstone. Truth in Comedy really awakened me to the beauty that can be found in improv, and now I use it as a textbook for my improv students.

“I’m a Superman nut. The new movie made me happy. I’ve been reading Superman and Green Lantern since I was 13 years old. I had a hundred thousand comic books before I left America! Many people follow film directors, but I’ve begun to follow comic book writers and editors because I believe they have a lot to say. Like, I read a lot of Geoff Johns comics from DC.”


Liz Ashforth
U.K. and Beijing

“I’m a scientist so my job always includes a lot of brain-heavy work so I like books that take me outside of that, like fantasy and sci-fi. There’s a really good book called The Lies of Loch Lamora by Scott Lynch, that’s excellent—it’s set in a world where aliens used to live and they’ve left these weird structures, but it’s never explained… really mysterious.”


Leo Castillo

Leo is a Senior Consultant from Management Strategies who also enjoys improvisation. “Lately I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction, Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann and books by Penn Jillette.”


The Manila Improv Fest will be having performances at the P.E.T.A. Theater in Quezon City every evening from June 27-30 (Thu-Sun). Want to catch a show? Hurry and grab a ticket. Learn more at their official website and see details on the poster below:




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