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Bruce Hunter, a member of our Illustrated Men comedy troupe, suggested one day that we write a book together. I was like, “Great! What’s a book?” After I Googled what it was, I was intrigued. A collection of pages with writing on it. I thought, “What the hell? Let’s try this new thing out and see what happens!”
 
We agreed that it would be an improv book, based on the principles of improv. In improv jargon, that means to Yes/And, which basically means accepting an offer from another person as the truth, and forwarding or advancing that offer, to become the building block of a scene.
So, how exactly would that work in book form? We decided the best way to accomplish this was to write a series of letters to one another. Each person would send a letter to the other two members of the troupe. Upon receiving a letter, you would accept any information contained within that letter as the truth. Then you would respond by sending a letter back thus advancing the story and furthering the arc of a character. Sound confusing? You have no idea.

What resulted was that there became eight different strains, or threads of storylines for us to follow. Some of us have referred to them as streams as well. Believe me, strain is the right word. My brain hurts.

We have written around 300 letters. We wrote these letters over the course of almost 3 years. Some strains were completed very quickly, or in bursts of writing. Other strains took a while longer. Sometimes, when a strain was seeming to careen out of control, we would get together and discuss where exactly this storyline was headed. Other days, we would just get drunk.

In some cases, we altered the letters, to get a better grip on the logic. Not that we were polluting the process. Call it a bit of editing as we go. Shaping, as it were. For the most part though, we stuck to our original vision of Yes/And.

So, what we did was take a slew of current events that occurred over the last years, and poke fun at real celebrities and news-makers, such as former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, (just to name a few), and combine these personalities with entirely fictional characters of our own making. What resulted was a darkly funny view of the world as see through the eyes of Illustrated Men.


So, Dear Reader, it is time for you to say “Yes/And”. Now you can begin the journey that we have plotted out for you. Oh, and remember, it’s okay to laugh out loud. In fact, when you read our book of letters, do it in a place like a library, or a sauna, or even a Funeral Home, where laughing out loud is frowned upon. It’ll only add to the experience.

David Huband
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Click on the weird hands to visit the Book of Letters blog.
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