A Funny Thing Happened at Mt. Sinai
The Ten Commandments as a Guide to Improvisation
If you ever wondered about how long form improvisational comedy and religion are related, “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Mount Sinai” looks deeply the intersection of the two subjects. Drawing from his years of training with Amy Poehler and the Upright Citizens Brigage this book stands alone in the rarified world of books about comedy and religion. Because there are about seven books on comedy and religion.
In 1996 Amy Poehler gave my improv class a stunning note about how the stage was her church and improv was her religion. It was the first few months that I was learning and studying improv. She keyed us into a vision that improv could teach you something about being a better person. It was a crystalline moment for me and got me thinking. If improv was Amy’s religion and it could teach us about being a better person could religion teach us anything about improv?
After reflecting and considering the question more deeply I have come to a definitive answer…
Yes it can. And I am not a Bible thumper either. This isn’t some backdoor way to make you believe in anything except that religion/philosophy can teach us 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. 15 years in the making.
But first, see what these improv luminaries have to say!
“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
Stillman has THOUGHT THIS THROUGH. This is more than just improv advice, there’s interesting theological analysis to be found here as well, including a closer read of the original Hebrew of the 8th and 10th Commandments that will shake your moral core a little. A Funny Thing Happened at Mount Sinai is not a beginners Improv book, but if you’ve read Truth in Comedy and Johnstone’s Impro and you want to take your play to a deeper level, I really recommend this illuminating, brave little book. – John Ross Bowie, UCB, Naked Babies, Big Bang Theory
Matthew Stillman has written a gem of a book, a bright and enlightened find for performer and non-performer alike. This sublime and engaging book sparks our highest components of artistic expression. “A Funny Thing Happened at Mount Sinai” is a reminder to hold true to that which we know to be collaboratively right and good. You’ll find yourself living this improv philosophy on and off stage with ease and confidence to greater creative results. This book will be a source of inspiration that you will find yourself returning to again and again. –Christina Gausas, 30 Rock, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, iO Chicago
Get a copy all for yourself. It is only $5 bucks
You’ll learn about the Ten Commandments. You’ll learn about improv. Pretty much you’ll be enjoying all the learning you’ll be doing. Have some one hug you for making this decision. You are worth it.
Order here and you’ll receive the sexiest PDF version, fully designed by the inimitable Lisa Valuyskaya.
Genesis Deflowered is the first in a series of books that takes the King James Version of the Bible and adds text to turn these seminal texts into erotica. But the textual additions are in the same Elizabethan/Jacobean style – terse, poetic, and very, very chaste. Biblical erotica to recast our sexual theology.
The Deflowered Series
One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.” ~TS Eliot
Where many see the Bible as the pathway to Heaven, others say it should be covered in a brown paper bag because it is so, so filthy.
There are hundreds of sex acts implied in the first book of the bible. How has nobody ever described how each of them would have played out in biblical language? If the writers and translators of the Bible had been a little less prudish we might have an entirely different relationship between sex and religion than we have now.
In Genesis there is sex before marriage, threesomes, incest, group sex, kinky fetish cuckolding, gay sex and more. Isn’t it time that you read the Bible for the dirty parts?
Using the seminal King James Bible in its Elizabethan English as spring board,Genesis Deflowered – the first book in The Deflowered Series – makes the beginning of the Bible come out as a sexy, readable and fun erotic novel.
Genesis Deflowered: equal parts holy scripture and blaspheming scandal.
Religion and Love get along great.
Religion and Sex…not so much.
The Deflowered Series looks to recontextualize the relationship between sex and spirit by meeting the classic text on its own terms and make sex part of being human and being spiritual.
“Its a whole new take on a 400-year-old book” ~Fox News
“This isn’t your common drug-store bodice-ripper. Genesis Deflowered succeeds on a number of levels — it truly does respect the classic text in form and structure, and Mr. Stillman’s additions don’t feel out of place and make us think about sex and religion in a new way.”~Huffington Post