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

Wednesday October 19, 2016, 2:18am - by Magnet Theater

matt-shafeek-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A Megawatt performer since the very beginning, MATTHEW SHAFEEK, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about the different eras of Magnet, being a class clown, and, oh yes, gaming! These two performers go way back and have a lot of fun with this conversation. See Matt perform each week on Wednesdays with Metal Boy and on Saturdays with The Armando Diaz Experience!

Louis kicks off the episode my enlightening us to the fact that this Metal Boy has been in and out of Megawatt since the VERY beginning of Megawatt. How many teams has he been on?? Louis tries to guess! He and Matt discuss the different eras of Megawatt and even reflect on the days when you could take an eight-week Armando Diaz class for $99. Matt describes the role that improv has taken in his life and the balance it provides. He and Louis talk about what it means to be a class clown and Matt surmises that joking around in school was the beginning of his career in comedy. He even tells of the fan club he once created for himself! Both guys reflect on how nice it is to hang around comedians without having to do bits all the time and you won’t want to miss the moment when Louis says something that he thinks sounds insincere! That’s all before Louis asks about Matt’s life off-stage and he tells us that he’s a big time gamer. Matt gets into the board-game renaissance, how incredibly helpful games can be in social situations, and how gaming may be the future of storytelling. There’s no hotspot on this episode, but you better believe that we cap it all off with A Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles! Huzzah!

Wednesday October 12, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

annie-moor-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Visual artist and Magnet performer, ANNIE MOOR, is on the podcast talking with Louis about improv and how her art, no matter the medium, always trends toward storytelling. They dive deep into how narrative shows come together and even discuss how jealousy can be a great motivator. Aside from performing at Magnet with Wonderland, Premiere: The Improvised Musical, and Object Work, Annie is also a Magnet instructor, an early childhood educator, a teaching artist, and a visual artist who will be selling her incredible works of art at the Union Square Holiday Market from November 17th to December 24th! So many ways to enjoy Annie Moor, so little time! (But at least this episode will live online forever.)

Annie recently started teaching Level One Musical Improv at Magnet, so Louis begins the podcast by asking her what she thinks is the mark of a successful Level One class. He also wants to know how teachers help students who have zero musical awareness – how to bring them to their voice? Annie find that sharing her own anecdotes of “not knowing” with students often puts them at ease. Louis comes up with a cool analogy about cutting tomatoes with a dull knife that relates to staying sharp and keeping things fresh when performing. As he is wont to do when musical improvisers are across from him, Louis asks about the use of narrative structure in musical improv. He and Annie get into how narrative shows differ from traditional longform and how picking an antagonist is really hard! Annie has been doing improv since 2008 but it took her four years to find musical improv, which has truly been her love. She’s been doing theater her whole life though and made the jump to studying animation when she went off to college where, Annie claims, she was the worst animation student NYU has ever had! More recently, her primary non-musical improv experience has been performing with Object Work, an improv show which uses real objects. Louis and Annie talk about playing out real life on stage and they ask, does a good kind of jealousy fuel us appropriately? Annie talks about how all of her artistic pursuits trend towards storytelling and narrative moments. She says that storytelling starts taking shape for kids around four years old and that she loves getting to see that development on a regular basis in her work teaching one through five year olds. To end the show, Annie and Louis play a rousing game of monologue hotspot! Sadly, due to a recording error, we lost this episode’s edition of A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles. Only Annie, Louis, Evan, and Grant will ever know how truly delightful it was!

Tuesday October 11, 2016, 5:10am - by Magnet Theater

Ringers Newsletter

This October edition of Ringers has been announced! Ringers a bi-monthly sketch show produced by Armando Diaz and Amanda Xeller. Ringers features sketches written by new and seasoned writers, fresh acting from improvisers, and direction by eager and practiced sketch voices. The show as a whole showcases both recognizable and up-and-coming talents of the Magnet Theater. The next Ringers show will be Monday, October 24th, at 9PM.

Featuring sketches by: Billy Soco, Everett Cox, Jennifer Anderson, Justice Hehir, Levi Friedman, Shelley Little, Will Pinke

Directed by: Ben Koch, Bryan Berlin, Michael McLarnon, Molly Kiernan, Nat Silverman, and Tom Kim

Starring: Amanda Rothman, Andrew Joelson, Annie Howard, Bill Greenlee, Chris Erlendson, Christopher De La Cruz, Dan Lisle, Francis Fuster, Lisa Yapp, Matthew Aromando, Nicole Orisich, Peter Getz, Randy McKay, Tori Smith


Monday October 10, 2016, 3:11pm - by Megan Gray


The Magnet is super-psyched to announce that the latest season of Conservatory Circuit is now open for applications! What is Conservatory Circuit, you ask? Why, it’s just like the regular Circuit, except it’s open only to students who have been accepted into Magnet’s Conservatory program (Level 5 and above). It’s an awesome way to work weekly with an ensemble and coach as well as get more reps under your belt. We highly recommend it!

Application deadline: Saturday, October 15th at noon
Team announcements: Tuesday, October 18th
Shows: Fridays at 10pm; November 4th through December 16th at the Magnet Training Center Studio

What are you waiting for? Check out the details and apply now!

Questions, thoughts, comments, or concerns can be directed to circuit@magnettheater.com.

Wednesday October 5, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

beth-slack-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A star on both Magnet and UCB stages, BETH SLACK, stops by to talk with Louis about her love of opera, how 9/11 changed her career plans, and why musical improv rules. Beth tells us all about her long relationship with stage performance and, how after taking a break from it for nearly 10 years, she came back to the stage by finding improv. She and Louis get to know each other and she does a wonderful scene with jar of pickles! See Beth weekly at Magnet with Premiere: The Improvised Musical, The Cast, and at UCB on Harold Night with Foxhole. Plus! This coming week she performs a live radio play with The Broadcast (10/10) and as a part of the New York Musical Improv Festival with Hansbury & Slack (10/13).

As a fantastic musical improviser, it might not surprise anyone to find out that Beth was originally trained in opera! She first moved to NYC about 15 years ago, three days before the events of September 11th took place. Understandably, her plans to “make it” in the big city were put on hold and she moved back to Ohio. Beth later returned to NYC to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, after which, she stopped doing anything artistic for about 10 years. She tells us all about getting into opera and vocal performance and how she went to boarding school for a year specifically to study voice. With her extensive knowledge, Beth enlightens Louis as to the differences between opera and musical theater. About four years ago, almost exactly 11 years after first moving to NYC, Beth signed up for an improv class and her world was changed again. She and Louis discuss how narrative plot functions in different styles of improv and they mull over the differences between tangible art and performance art. Digging further into improv theory, they discuss the pitfalls of over-agreement in scenes and how it’s perfectly okay to ask questions. Plus, Louis and Beth play some two-person hotspot and Beth performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles!


Sunday October 2, 2016, 9:48am - by Megan Gray

Musical Megawatt - Musical Improv

The Magnet Theater is thrilled to announce the new teams and additions to its Tuesday night Musical Megawatt lineup. New teams will debut this Tuesday, October 4th. Shows start at 7pm!

New Team Kriss
Adam Campbell-Schmitt
Andrew Davies
Russ Feder
Charlie Nicholson
Ali Reed
Erin Richardson
Shalini Tripathi

New Team Kross
Chris Bell
Samara Breger
Alex Marcus
Maryann Menzies
Adam Payne
Jackie Skinner
Cian Smith


Tuesday September 27, 2016, 3:54pm - by Magnet Theater

carly-monardo-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Animator, illustrator, and Magnet performer, CARLY MONARDO, joins us to talk about the links between her different disciplines, who her heroes are, and what drives good characters. Plus, she plays monologue hotspot with Louis and performs a serious scene with a jar of pickles. Carly started at Magnet with the Free Intro to Improv class and now performs on Megawatt with Metal Boy, on Magnet Sketch Teams with Dinosaur Jones, with her duo TJ & Blood, and every Saturday night with The Cast! She’s also created the artwork for dozens of different shows at the theater and helped drive the Magnet’s visual identity. Could she BE anymore wonderful???

Carly begins this episode talking about how she first became interested in improv by watching shows at UCBT and then seeing Musical Megawatt at Magnet. Her first class was the Free Intro to Improv class, which turned out to be a really good idea. Louis pauses the improv talk for a bit to ask about how Carly got into animation, graphic design, and art in general. She talks about having to take an acting class in college and how the lessons learned while studying animation have bled into her performance. They also attempt to answer the question of what drives characters. Is it all ego-driven? Louis can’t let the opportunity pass to ask Carly what she did on The Venture Bros., what her proudest projects have been, and who her heroes are! Plus, they throw a lot of shade (and love) at Sulaiman Beg. Our episode concludes with a wonderful round of two-person hotspot based on the suggestion of “a rose by any other color” and Carly performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles. You’ll have to listen in because these two native Staten Islanders have a grand old time!

Wednesday September 21, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

christopher-hastings-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Welcome back to the Magnet Theater Podcast! Louis took the summer off to backpack across Europe, rub elbows in the Hamptons, and finish planting his rooftop garden (his tan is looking GREAT). Now he’s back in the saddle with the prolific and charming Christopher Hastings, a writer/performer on the Magnet sketch team Student Council and the creator/writer/artist of many comic books such as Deadpool, Adventure Time, and The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. They discuss Chris’s origin story as a comic book writer and illustrator, how he found himself simultaneously in the world of comedy, and interestingly, why he eventually stopped improvising. PLUS! We debut two new segments: a two-person hotspot explosion and an improvised scene with a jar of pickles. Huzzah!!

Our heroes begin this episode talking about how Chris became the much-beloved comic book writer and illustrator he is today. He tells of attending the School of Visual Arts and his transition from being primarily an artist to being mostly a writer. Since creating his own, online, indie title (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja), Chris has worked his way to writing for Marvel, where he now authors titles such as the Unbelievable Gwenpool and Vote Loki. He discusses the differences between working for yourself versus at a major publisher and how to collaborate with artists as a writer. He also walks us through process of writing an issue of a comic and what’s demanded of a writer by both the form of comics books and their publishers. With so many projects orbiting his brain-box, Louis can’t help but ask what Chris’s busy schedule looks like and why the heck, on top of it all, does he also do comedy. Chris answers all of Louis’s inquiries and talks about how he got into (specifically) improv and why he later stepped away from it.

PLUS – Louis debuts his new hotspot segment “Getting to Know Each Other!” which features hockey, UCB, wizard beards, and corrective lenses.

DOUBLE PLUS – Louis debuts our new improvised segment! It involves a jar of pickles and you’re just going to love it.



Monday September 19, 2016, 8:40am - by Magnet Theater


The Magnet Theater is pleased to announce — for the first time ever — The Diversity & Inclusion Sketch Lab! All those with voices that are underrepresented in comedy may attend (race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and age).

Here’s how it’ll work:

We’ll be meeting on Saturdays 12-3pm at the Magnet Training Center (22 West 32nd Street, 10th floor) for six weeks starting October 1st.

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 (November 14th, 21st, 28th at 9pm).

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

1. An example of a sketch that you saw on TV or stage 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.


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 writing 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.
If you want to be in the final show or have your sketch considered, you must attend at least 4 of the 6 sessions.

How much does it cost?
It’s FREE.

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

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

More questions?
Email: diversitysketchlab@gmail.com

See you there,
Lauren Ashley Smith, Rich Rosario, John Ross, James Kuo, Natalie Silverman, Charlie Nicholson, Jordan RandolphDiversity Sketch Lab collage

Thursday September 15, 2016, 1:54pm - by Megan Gray

large_megawatt  large_megawatt

The Magnet Theater is pleased to announce the new teams and additions for the Fall 2016 season of Megawatt, debuting next Wednesday, September 21st, at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10:15pm. We hope to see you there.

Names in bold are new to Megawatt. Names with an asterisk* are returning to Megawatt. Names in italics are joining a preexisting team.

New Team SUN
Tim Canty
Will Cooper
Kyle Gordon
Virginia Hamilton
Molly Kiernan
Suerynn Lee*
Julia Meinwald
Keith Rubin

New Team MOON
Kim Brown
Howard Finkelstein
Katie Mordhorst
Adam Pasulka
Johnathan Ross
Abby Russell
Tom Sanchez
Paul Ton