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Magnet Theater Blog: News and Ideas about Comedy, Improv Shows & Classes in NYC

Wednesday February 3, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Michael Delaney Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Founding member of legendary UCB ensembles The Swarm and The Stepfathers, MICHAEL DELANEY, sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to talk truth in improv, how time has affected his approach to comedy, and his reverence for the Harold.  Not only has Delaney been doing improv in NYC since before the arrival of the UCB, but he’s long been considered one of the greatest minds in both improv and sketch that this great city has to offer. Listen in to hear Louis interview his former teacher and to find out what gets under Delaney’s skin.

Louis took Delaney’s Level 3 class thirteen years ago and he still has his notes from it. Beyond that nostalgia trip, Louis and Delaney quickly get into a discussion on speaking to the truth of a situation. In exploring this concept they address the practice of “calling out” your scene partner and how it can be done appropriately. They talk about being more flexible and less rigid when approaching the Harold. For the Harold as a whole, and for artists in general, both agree that variety is good and healthy. Delaney’s most trusted advice? Making the active choice is king. Louis is on a “purposeful” kick right now and he wants to know what Delaney thinks of that notion. Don’t you?

Hear Delaney talk about his own aging within the world of comedy and how he thinks comedy has aged along with him. He believes that having kids has made him a less funny improviser, which is something Louis can’t yet relate to. As someone who has stayed in the improv game for so long, Louis wants to know what’s kept Delaney driven this whole time? Where does his ambition lie? Delaney talks about what he thinks the best comedy work is and how his taste has changed over time. He also speaks frankly about why he’s failed so badly professionally. It seems to have a lot to do with doing what keeps him happy. These guys claim that, as professional improvisers, they are living better than kings of the middle ages!

Louis tells us what he admired about Delaney when taking his class 13 years ago and gets him to talk about his reverence for Harold. They debate how audience participation has developed further since Harold was introduced and how it’s different than what’s experienced with short form. At around this point, I stopped taking notes for a few minutes because the things Delaney was saying were so interesting.

They talk about getting stuck on facts over truth and ask the question, “Does every truth need a justification?” Louis claims that many justifications are simply apologies and Delaney unloads some BS he’s really tired of. He also gets into the difference between starting with a premise versus living in the discovery phase of the scene. Penultimately, they try to crack open the difference in the game of the scene between how Louis understands it and Delaney might interpret it. And finally, Delaney lets us know when to let the subconscious fly in the Harold.

As a bit of a post-script, Louis asks Delaney about about The Swarm and The Stepfathers and what makes for a truly outstanding ensemble! Get in there, folks!

Monday February 1, 2016, 12:25pm - by Megan Gray

Show Offs

Working on a show? Want to put it up?

The Magnet Theater is proud to present a new show coming in April — Show-Offs! Starting Sunday, April 10th, 6pm.

Show-Offs features brand new scripted works never before seen on the Magnet stage, from sketch, one-person shows, and more. All shows must be 20 – 25 minutes in length. The submission deadline is Tuesday, March 8th, noon. If selected, you will be notified by Friday, March 25th.

Show-Offs is open to all. To submit a scripted show, click here.

 

Sunday January 24, 2016, 10:11am - by Magnet Theater

Magnet TC Logo v3

All morning operations at the Training Center are canceled for today, Sunday, Jan. 24th.

THERE WILL BE NO 12P CLASSES. We’ll keep you posted about the rest of the day.

**Updated 2:30pm**

The Magnet Training Center will be open from 3pm9pm this evening.
Afternoon classes and class shows will take a place as scheduled.
Saturday January 23, 2016, 1:31pm - by Magnet Theater

Magnet theaterMagnet TC Logo v3

SNOW UPDATE: The Magnet Theater and Training Center will be closed as of 3pm on Saturday, Jan. 24th. There will be no afternoon classes or class shows and our evening shows at the theater have been canceled.

Stay safe, everyone!

Wednesday January 20, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Matt Evans Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Jealous Dad and 1/4th of Hello Laser, MATT EVANS, joins us to discuss straight-manning, his old soul, performing characters, and how he stinks at object work! Hot off the heels of this recent pilot, Jealous Dad, Matt is getting ready for Montreal Just For Laughs auditions and finding that the scripted work he does these days can be more nerve-racking than in the past. He tells us of his history in NYC comedy dating back to 2004 and how much he loves Bob Newhart.

To get the ball rolling, Louis asks Matt to talk about his prep for Just For Laughs auditions and how it’s been trying out new material. He talks to Matt about what kinds of characters he likes to play best and whether or not he has a good handle on his comedic style. Though Matt self-identifies as a straight-man most of the time, he’s had many a chance to stretch himself from that, especially when playing with 4-Track. Louis would say Matt is 85% straight-man, 15% Chris Farley. They chat about Matt’s  affinity for Bob Newhart and how there’s a part of him that feels like an older soul. Part of that might be that he felt like he was older just when he arrived in New York and started doing comedy having moved here at age 30 after working in broadcast news.

As it turns out, Matt and Louis were part of the same generation of improvisers. Matt tells of his early character work and of starting classes at Magnet right when it opened up. He also talks about the change in confidence from the early days to now, when it comes to performing characters. For some reason, we learn that Louis can’t deal with the word “little.” Lou asks Matt if he feels up-to-date on what’s happening in the comedy world and he mentions that he watches very few things related to comedy.

Louis borrows an explanation of comedy as having two sides: the exaggerated and grotesque, and then the very real-life things that we find accessible. They explore the concept of surprising yourself and breaking away from your typical wheelhouse. Playing on teams with varying personalities seems to be one way of doing that. Matt tells how 4-Track was spawned from a Kevin Dorff class of matching, which is all they did, back and forth, for eight weeks. Louis was in the class too. Speaking on his challenges, Matt mentions trying beat the note of being neutral and how hesitation is often a form of denial. Plus, Matt thinks he’s horrible at object work and Louis thinks improvers make great parents! Which of these thoughts is correct???

Wednesday January 13, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Elena Skopetos Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Champion of sketch and improv comedy alike, ELENA SKOPETOS, joins us on the show to talk about clowning, characters, ComedySportz, and the new J&L Presents! You know her from The Cast, The Executives, AVALANCHE, and her many appearances in other shows, but this is Elena’s first tell-all-interview-podcast with Louis Kornfeld so we suggest you strap on in before you’re swept away to Flavortown. This party is starting and you’re still at the door, buddy!

If you think Louis is messing around to begin this episode, you’re dead wrong. He immediately questions Elena about her experience studying abroad in Italy and leanring commedia dell’arte. Sadly for Pantalone and Arlecchino, commedia has never been very high on Louis’ list. He’s able to put his disdain aside though for the sake of this podcast as he discusses stock characters with Elena, in which they describe the practice of exaggerating familiar archetypes and the fun which can be had with specificity. How does Elena bring herself and her theater training to sketch comedy? Though she began seriously acting in college at Marymount Manhattan, she really started out as a performer singing in elementary school. Despite her education, she says, she really found herself in the comedy world.

Louis asks Elena what she does to prepare for a show and she also describes the experience of taking in the audience as it differs between sketch shows and the theater world. She and Louis both discuss dealing with emotional preparedness and self-confidence in performance. Then Louis spits vitriol on mirror games and, this is mysterious, claims that 80% is good enough sometimes.

Lately, Elena has been working on playing closer to herself rather than the diverse cast of characters she has commonly leaned toward. Louis talks about wanting attention but then disliking the feeling of being focused on. How does one create interesting characters with out stray too far from the self? Specificity over crazy! Getting into scripted work, Elena talks about the comedic logic behind making the funniest choice rather than simply a funny choice.  She tells us about bombing with a character and recounts a time when she thought everyone was being overly dramatic. Our two heroes examine the use of darker material and assigning inauthentic importance to melodramatic subject matter.

And did you know that Elena is a comedy machine? She does so much! Louis inquires about her experience doing ComedySportz, and they consider the benefits of doing short form, what one can take from that into long form, and what is something that long form improvisers are guilty for! He then asks her about taking over hosting duties, along with Ari Miller, of Magnet’s character showcase, Jana & Lauren Presents. They also discuss Elena’s Megawatt team, AVALANCHE, and finding a comfort with a team or group. And finally, Louis and Elena talk about The Cast (which is taking off!) and what is so special about the show and team that make it so great.

Friday January 8, 2016, 9:47am - by Megan Gray

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We’re so very excited to announce the new Circuit Winter 2016 season, debuting Friday, January 15th at 10pm at the Magnet Training Center. Congratulations to everyone!

Scary
Bianca Roses
Amanda Rothman
Teis Jorgensen
Andy Lachman
Brielle Silvestri
Elise Williams
Alex Novac
Ben Kharakh
Coach: Tim Canty

Baby
Matthew Giglio
Christopher Bonet
Mari Stein
Karine Mendonca
Nikolai Solonski
Jenny Stokka
Rachelle White
Don Romaniello
Coach: Amanda Xeller

Sporty
Anisha Ramnani
Adina Forsstrom
Eric Stone
Michael Greene
Charles St. Charles
Yimin Peng
Everett Cox
Ivy Hong
Coach: Pat May

Ginger
Spencer T. Campbell
Aditya Otiv
Danielle Von Lehman
Virginia Hamilton
Lesley Hennen
John DeAmara
Perri Gross
Coach: Eleanor Lewis

Posh (Musical Team)
William Cybriwsky
Noel Hunter
Will Jacobs
Maggie Lalley
Adam Payne
Claudia Toth
Coach: Catherine Wing

Friday January 8, 2016, 8:00am - by Magnet Theater

LadySketchShow_475x273

The Lady Sketch Lab is back—and this year, we want YOU to help us make it bigger and better than ever! All WOMEN are encouraged to attend!

Here’s how it’ll work:

We’ll be meeting on Saturdays 12-3 at the Magnet Training Center (22 West 32nd Street, 10th floor) for six weeks starting January 30th.

You’ll bring in a mix of new and rewritten sketches each week (1 or 2). We’ll give each other feedback for rewrites. The best sketches will be put into the final shows (March 14th, 21st and 28th at 9pm).

For the first meeting all we ask is that you bring in is:

1. An example of a sketch that you saw on TV or staged and why you love it.
2. An example of something that happened in your day/week/month/life that you thought was really funny. Anything.

THAT’S IT! You don’t even have to write anything just yet. Give it a try.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:

But I’ve never written sketch or taken a sketch class.
That’s totally fine. We still want you.

But I really can’t write. Can I just perform?
You can get involved as a performer only. Come to the meeting anyway. You might find yourself accidentally writing something amazing.

But I can’t perform/memorize lines.
You can just write then.

I write better with a partner. I can’t do this on my own.
You and your (female) partner can present co-written material at meetings. Alternatively, if you realize you really like working with someone at the meetings, you can go off and write together.

I can’t make all the meetings.
Come when you can. What ends up in the show will be the best material, meaning it will probably have been presented to the group and rewritten a number of times, but feel free to show up when you can.

How much does it cost?
It’s FREE.

Do I have to pre-register?
Nope. Just show up!

Is this going to be a comedy show only about periods and tampons?
No, it will be about whatever you decide to write.

But I’m still scared.
Follow your fear. Remember how hard improv used to seem before you actually tried it?

More questions?
Email: megan@magnettheater.com

See you there,
Amanda Xeller, Megan Gray & Chet Siegel

Wednesday December 30, 2015, 9:27am - by Magnet Theater

Chrissie Gruebel Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

We couldn’t get enough of CHRISSIE GRUEBEL on stage, so we had her on the podcast to talk about improv, acting, & everything else. A darling of Megawatt’s Metal Boy, Friday Night Sh*w, and Magnet Sketch Teams, Chrissie sits down with Louis and regales him with tales from Philadelphia, New York, and the theater capitol of North America, Scranton. Chrissie is one of our favs and we just know you’re gonna love this episode. May she live forever online!

To begin this episode, Louis claims he knows nothing about Chrissie and Chrissie claims she doesn’t have a Long Island accent. You’ll have to tune in to find out that both of these are lies! Though she may hail from Long Island, Chrissie went to school in Scranton and lived in Philadelphia for a number of years. Once in school, she found she wanted to be an actor and thus enrolled in Scranton’s theater department, which took a multidisciplinary approach to theater education. She talks about the “all hands on deck” experience of her program and how it made everyone more invested in the productions they mounted.

Chrissie moved back “home” to New York City after a rough break up and started taking classes at UCB in late 2009 because of a very expressive Facebook friend and because most of us are just trying to fill a void, right? CG Fun Fact: She did her first show before she was even done with 101 and it was at UCB Chelsea at 11pm, right after Harold Night! Despite (or because of?) this experience, Chrissie says it took her until the end of 301 to actually enjoy improvising. Coming that that slow introduction to being so invested in improv now, Louis wants to know what Chrissie finds exciting these days. For her, it’s a team’s energy that matters most. With a nod to legendary Harold team, Sandino, she talks about working with teams that always support you, team chemistry, and trust amongst ensembles. Louis believes that there is an addiction to beating yourself up after shows, which is probably why it’s so important to celebrate each other and keep the energy positive.

Louis digs into how and why Metal Boy is one of the great teams to grace the Megawatt stage. He also commends Chrissie for being able to call bullshit in scenes which might offend her real world views, and being able to do so in a way that only makes the show more enjoyable. What’s her secret? She says that part of it is getting to a point where you’re comfortable enough with your improv that you don’t feel thrown by bringing yourself into it. Speaking of things that matter to people, Louis launches them into a discussion about gender roles in the improv community. How are we doing right now? In answering, Chrissie talks about the makeup of her indie team, Mannequin Room, as something that helped her grow as an improviser. She also explores how we might be able to cut these issues of inclusion off at the pass rather than simply react to them. They get into talking about sophomoric humor, what it takes to be “funny,” and Louis says something that he will continue to say until the day he dies. Let’s hope that never happens! All hail Louis, The Immortal.

Wednesday December 23, 2015, 7:00am - by Megan Gray

sketch teams logo

Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to The Executives, Dinosaur Jones, Student Council and Stockton! Thanks to everyone who submitted and auditioned this round.

Here are your new teams:

NEW TEAM APPLES directed by Matt Alspaugh
Chris Hastings – Writer/Performer
Rob Webber – Writer/Performer
Joe Lepore – Writer/Performer
Anna Neu – Performer
Chrissie Gruebel – Performer
Noel Salter – Performer
Brandon Lisy – Writer
Hayley Karl – Writer
Jesse Mudrick – Writer

NEW TEAM ORANGES directed by Ari Miller
Dennis Pacheco – Writer/Performer
Alex Stark – Writer/Performer
Angela Demanti – Writer/Performer
Kyle Levenick – Writer/Performer
Devlyn Corrigan – Performer
Dan Dobransky – Performer
Rebecca Acevado – Performer
Jordan Randolph – Writer
Michael McLarnon – Writer

CLICK TO READ MORE…