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

Archive for the ‘All About’ Category

Thursday June 4, 2015, 2:51pm - by Magnet Theater

FAQ Banner

Where is Magnet Theater?
259 W 29th St. (at 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 244-8824

Where is Magnet Training Center?
22 W 32nd St. (b/t 5th Ave and B’way)
10th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 244-2400

What kind of theater are you?
We’re a comedy theater! On any given night, you might see improv, musical improv, sketch, storytelling, a character showcase—or something entirely new.. You never know what you might get (but we can guarantee it’ll be a fun night had by all).

When do you offer shows and classes?
Seven nights a week! Check out our show schedule and our class listings for more details.

How do I make a reservation for a show?

  • Head over to our calendar and choose the show you’d like to attend. Click the “Reserve” button next to the correct date and you’ll be taken to a form where you can make up to 10 advance reservations.
  • Please arrive at the Magnet box office no later than 10 minutes before show time to claim your tickets. Ten minutes before the show begins, we’ll release all advanced reservations to our stand-by patrons.
  • Seating is first come, first served.

If you see a “Rez Info” button, it can mean a few things:

  1. All advanced reservations are gone (you can probably still get in but you won’t be able to set any tickets aside).
  2. You’re trying to reserve for Megawatt, Musical Megawatt or Thursday Night Out. For these shows, you can pay once and stay the whole night so we only take reservations for the first show of the evening.
  3. You’re trying to reserve for a class show or mixer—in which case, you’re in luck. They’re free and open to everyone!

Do you have alcohol?
Yes. We have a great selection of affordable beer and wine as well as water and soda in our lobby. Plus, friendly bartenders! We ID.

Can I record or photograph a performance?
We kindly ask that you do NOT record (video or audio) or photograph a performance without the express permission of the theater. In fact, we suggest putting your phone/camera/handheld technology away entirely! We’re all about enjoying things as they happen and being present in the moment. It’s an improv thing. But it works in this case, too.

How do I sign up for a class?
Once you click the “Classes” section in our top menu, you’ll be able to scroll down to see all our class offerings along the left side of your screen. When you choose the class you want, its details will show up on the right-hand side. Click the “Register” button and provide the required info and payment. Please note: You’re not officially registered until payment is received in full.

What if a class says “Wait List?”
This means a class has sold out. You can still attempt to sign up, but you’ll be placed on the wait list. Unfortunately, being on the wait list doesn’t guarantee a spot in the class. If a slot opens up, our School Director will go through the list, in order, until it is filled.

If I have prior training, can I skip levels?
While we love and respect our fellow improv schools, we don’t allow students with prior experience to skip levels in any of our programs. Why? We want our students to fully immerse themselves in their Magnet training and we believe that starts with the basics. Our curriculum is designed to grow your skills and confidence in a comprehensive way, whether you’re an experienced improviser or just starting out.

Can I perform at Magnet?
We have so many opportunities for rising students and curious improvisers to check out Magnet’s stage.

  • Mixers: We do two improv mixers a week, one on Wednesday at 6pm and one on Thursday at 7pm. We also do a Musical Mixer once a month. They’re free and anyone can sign up!
  • The Circuit: Once you complete Improv Level 3, you’re eligible to apply for The Circuit. Each season, Circuit teams are chosen by lottery from the submissions of eligible improvisers. If you’re picked, you get placed on a team of 8 players and assigned a coach. You’ll practice once a week and have a schedule of regular performances. It’s a great way to learn what it’s like to be a member of a house improv ensemble.
  • We Might Just Kiss: Curated and hosted by our Artistic Director Megan Gray, We Might Just Kiss celebrates female improvisers from around the community by gathering women of all levels to play together. It’s consistently one of our hottest tickets of the month!
  • The Rundown: Every Saturday at 6pm, we give some of the best indie ensembles and duos in town a chance to play on the Magnet stage. Wanna apply? Go for it!
  • And more! Stay connected to the Magnet community on Facebook, Twitter and our blog to make sure you’re not missing a single opportunity.

How do I become a house performer?
It depends. To be eligible to audition for Megawatt (our house improv ensembles) you have to have completed all of Magnet’s core (Levels 1-4) and Conservatory curriculum, up to and including Team Performance Workshop. To be eligible to audition for Musical Megawatt (our house musical-improv ensembles, you must complete Musical Improv Levels 1-3. To apply for a Magnet Sketch ensemble, it is strongly recommended that you take Sketch Levels 1 and 2 but you also must complete an application and submit a writing packet. We routinely post audition signups and calls for sketch applications so keep working hard and check back often to see when you can submit!

Can I be an intern?
If you’re a current student, applying for an internship is a great idea! You’ll get to learn the ropes at the theater and training center, make new friends, and become a familiar face around the Magnet community. Plus, you’ll earn credits toward a free class. Here are the details:  http://www.magnettheater.com/blog/all-about-internship-program/

Is your theater handicap accessible?
Yes, our theater is able to accommodate most of our guests’ needs. Please feel free to call our box office at (212) 244-8824 in advance, and we’ll happily address any of your questions or concerns.

Are your shows suitable for children?
Since so many of our shows are created in the moment, there is no guarantee for what you might see or hear onstage. It’s best to assume the material will be of an adult nature (somewhere between PG-13 and R). Also, we serve beer and wine in our lobby, and yes we ID. Every time.

Thursday May 28, 2015, 5:13pm - by Magnet Theater

Magnet TC Logo v3

As a student or potential student, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Magnet’s registration policies. If you have have a question that hasn’t been answered here, please contact Magnet School Director Amy Morrison at 212-244-2400 or SchoolDirector@MagnetTheater.com.

Student Expectations:
Students are required to be on time to class and stay for the entire class period. Please be courteous to your classmates. Disturbances, such as tardiness, cell phone use, inappropriate comments, and disrespectful behavior, will not be tolerated. Disruptive students may be asked to leave. If you require any special accommodations please speak to the instructor before class.

Attendance:
Students may miss no more than 2 classes. If a student misses more than 2 classes, the student may not be permitted to participate in the class show and must retake the class in order to move to the next level. A student may be held back and asked to repeat a class at the discretion of the instructor.

Pre-Requisites:
Students enter the program at Level 1 and must satisfactorily complete each level as a pre-requisite for the next level. Conservatory (our upper levels) students must be accepted through an application process. There is no pre-requisite for the Drop-In, the Free Intros, Any Level 1, Camp Magnet, or any elective unless specifically noted. Magnet reserves the right to accept or deny an individual’s registration for a class.

Repeating at Half-Price:
To encourage student development and mastery of skills, students may repeat any core curriculum class for half the regular price.

Performance Opportunities:
Completion of the core curriculum and conservatory programs does not guarantee placement on a house team or guarantee any other performance opportunities at Magnet.

All Sales Final:
Class payments are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. All sales are final.

Registration Complete Upon Payment:
Registration is not complete and you are not placed in the class until payment is received in full.

If a Class is Re-scheduled or Cancelled:
It’s rare, but in the event that Magnet must cancel or reschedule a class, enrolled students will be notified of any rescheduling by either email or phone, or both. In the event of a cancelled class, a full refund will be given.

Want to know about our Conservatory Classes? Click here to view a post all about them!

Tuesday May 19, 2015, 7:52pm - by Magnet Theater

conservatory

The Improv Conservatory Program is Magnet’s advanced improv training ground.

The program is focused on building a systematic transition from highly-proficient student to successful performer. It’s also a training ground for veteran improvisers interested in fine-tuning their skills. To do this, the Conservatory Program offers students a variety of specific classes featuring a higher degree of individualized attention tailored to each students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Conservatory classes fall under following categories:

Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory
Conservatory Skills
Conservatory Performance
Team Performance Workshop

more

Tuesday May 19, 2015, 2:08pm - by Magnet Theater

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Do you need a cool rehearsal space for your team or practice group? One that’s reasonably priced, conveniently located, and complete with some pretty sweet vending machines? We have a big, awesome Training Center now! You can rent a room from us! We have 10 to choose from, all ranging from $15-$35. They’re pretty much perfect for improv rehearsals, writing groups, production meetings and the like. No terrifying lighting. No weird stains. Everyone wins.

Get more details: Magnet Training Center-Spaces Guide

Make it official: Book space up to two months in advance!

Have questions? Call the office at 212-244-2400 or email spaces@magnettheater.com.

And feel free to spread the word to your friends and teammates—referrals are welcomed and encouraged!

Thursday April 16, 2015, 4:21pm - by Magnet Theater

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SLIDESHOW_ON-NEW_TC_ANNOUNCE USA-NYC-Koreatown99

The new Magnet Training Center at 22 W. 32nd Street marks a huge development in the history of the Magnet and the New York comedy community. For the first time since most anyone at Magnet can remember, we’ve got all of our classes running under the same roof, bringing our community of students, teachers, and performers together on a nightly basis. It also means that more classes are being offered in improv, musical improv, sketch comedy, and storytelling than ever before and that’s great news for all of New York, whether you’re a comedian, actor, singer, storyteller, or audience member.

Our new home has 10 classrooms, a studio theater, two dedicated writers’ rooms and two multi-stall bathrooms (so luxurious!). There are vending machines, a water fountain, and places to hang out before and after class. Simply put, it’s a bigger, better space to keep up with our growing needs as a training ground for the best comedic minds in the world. Plus, it’s got a view of the Empire State Building. Pretty swanky, right?

And did we mention that our new training center is right in the heart of New York City’s Korea Town? We are now smack in the middle of a block packed full of great restaurants, cool cafes, and killer karaoke bars. Whether it’s a team dinner before The Circuit, or a night of singing after your musical improv class, K-Town has you covered.

This is a new, exciting chapter for us and it wouldn’t be possible without the enthusiasm, hard work, and continued brilliance of our students and staff.

Thanks for being the best community around. If you haven’t seen the new digs yet, please stop by when you can, or sign up for a class! For a sneak peak, check out the fun infomercial below.

Magnet Training Center

Hours: 11am to 11pm

22 West 32nd St, 10th Floor

(212) 244-2400

Thursday April 9, 2015, 11:00am - by Magnet Theater

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Magnet, Sulaiman Beg and Kelly Donahue have developed an Oral History of the Magnet Theater.

The full story will be released TOMORROW, Friday 4/10, but in the meantime we are releasing some interesting stories that didn’t make the final cut.

Today, Magnet Theater co-founder Armando Diaz explains the origins of the long-running “The Armando Diaz Experience.” Tonight, ADX kicks off the Magnet 10th Anniversary celebrations with monologues by Ira Glass of This American Life. Advanced reservations are sold out, but a limited number of tickets will be released at the door.

———————————-

The Armando Diaz Experience

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(Diaz, then a 20-something film-school dropout, had been taking classes with Del Close and Charna Halpern at the iO, since it’s early back-of-the-bar days. Close eventually left Chicago to try his luck in L.A., and Diaz feeling at a low-point in his improv career, quits and goes back to film school.)

Armando Diaz (founder, co-owner, teacher): I graduated and I was just trying to find film work. It’s not easy trying to find those jobs in Chicago. I was videotaping weddings, I was working at a dubbing house where they dub commercials and instructional videos and you had to watch the same thing over and over for 8 hours. I was really in hell.

Me and Kevin Dorff were living in an apartment together and I still had improv friends, so I’d go to parties and shows and whatever, but I had given up. And people were like “Oh there’s that guy who used to do improv, whatever.”

I got burnt out. My life was a mess. I just was really kind of like, “Eh, I don’t have a degree, I’m not making any money. What future does any of this have?”

Around that time Charna is opening her theater. She had gotten a theater on Clark Street and it was a big deal. She had taken the first risk of renting space, it was like a tiny 40-seat theater. And then that went pretty well so she decided to take the plunge and get a full theater, bar and all that kind of stuff. At that point a lot of people had been hired at Second City and were going on to become paid actors and stuff like that, so they were looking for shows to put into the space.

It was like, well she’s gonna have two stages, and they wanted to have some alumni shows. So we were in Kevin and my apartment. It was late, we had closed out the bar, and we came back to the apartment to drink. It was Dave Koechner, Adam McKay, and Kevin and we were just sitting there. It was funny, they would bitch a lot about not getting to do improv, because they were doing Second City and it’s all written stuff. They do improv stuff but they didn’t get to do Harolds. They missed that.

So they started pitching this idea of an alumni show, and made a cast list of all the best people. They kept on saying, well it’s gotta be egoless work. Let’s not let anybody do hacky stuff or have any kind of personalities. There were like 30 or 40 people on the list. The other thing was how are you gonna rotate people in. Adam had this strange idea of calling the show “The Armando Diaz Experience” and saying well you know anybody in the show has to serve Armando. We’re going to create this ego, this figurehead.

I think it’s kind of like the founding of the United States. Where its kind of like, “Well we don’t want a king we want a weak president.” I think subconsciously that was part of it.

Me and Adam were friends and share a lot of comedic sensibilities. He enjoyed stuff I did. He always had a lot more confidence in me than I had in myself. A friend of ours had died, this guy Rick Roman, and a year earlier they had put together a memorial show and they were gonna give away a scholarship to go through the Second City Training Center.

It was a fundraiser, and Adam was like you gotta be in the show and it was like, “What? Doing what? I’m not in improv, I quit improv, I’m back in school.” He’s just like “I’m just putting you down to be in it.” And so I kept saying, “Adam, I don’t do stand-up.” You know. But there’s no getting out of the show so I was just like totally agonizing up until the day of the show and then suddenly the show’s going on, and I see the order, and we’re coming up to my space.

I wrack my head for like something to do. I tried writing stuff and and it was all terrible. So finally I was backstage, I’m about to go on, and the lights came up and I was still frozen backstage. And there was an empty stage and everyone’s like what’s going on. So I just came out and I was like, “Hi my name’s Armando Diaz. I’m not going to lie to you, I didn’t prepare anything for this show. I just really wanted to be in it.” And everyone started laughing. And I was like, “Uh, the thought occurred to me, like, ‘Hey, got any questions about Rick? Rick was a friend of mine. Got any questions?’” The audience would ask me questions, and I would just tell stories. And I just kind of told a lot of stories about Rick. And for some reason it just went over really well. It was in that moment, that me improvising monologues sort of happened.

Jump forward a year, and the same situation. I’m like Adam “What is the Armando Diaz Experience?” He was like, “It’s whatever, just do what you want.” And they just worked on the rest.

I’d get reports back from Charna, she’s like, “We’re sold out for the first show!” And I was like “What? What?” Dave Koechner got Del. He was like “Del’s gonna direct us.” So I was even more scared. So I showed up to rehearsal and the only thing I could think of was to improvise monologues. So, I was like, well I’ll just do that. You guys do the improv and I’ll get out of your way. And so we tried it. And I was just nervous as hell.

I looked around the room. It was just everybody. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Matt Besser and Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts and Adam McKay and David Koechner and Kevin Dorff. Miriam Tolan. Neil Flynn. Jimmy Carrane. Leo Ford. I’m missing a lot of people. It was just kind of a who’s who of the most amazing improvisers on earth, and then an idiot like me, fronting the show. Everyone’s waiting for me to do something that they could use. Rehearsal was terrible. It was just really rotten.

Unfortunately, they waited until last minute to book rehearsal. So this was two weeks before the show started. We did the first rehearsal on a Saturday and it was just a total disaster. And we had a preview show on Monday, and only two guys showed up to the show. Which was lucky. Two people in the audience. Two frat guys. And so we get up to do the show and my monologues suck and then halfway through the show it was like, “Yeah, let’s give up on this” and we refunded the guys money. They were like “This sucked.”

I was just stuck. I couldn’t talk. I felt like I became an idiot when it came time to tell a story. Nothing came to me. And it was like in a week we’re gonna open the show, there’s gonna be press there, they’re gonna review it, there’s a packed audience.

We had one more rehearsal the next Saturday before the show, and Del started the rehearsal like this, “You know there’s something in show business that’s just a sucker punch.” Something about conning people. Basically to the effect of, are we really gonna do this? Or do we have to find something Armando can do? And basically just in front of everybody let me know like you better get it right or we’ll replace you or put you to the side or whatever. I was like holy shit.

Right before I was gonna do the first monologue, he said to me, “Remember the old timey impersonators, you know, like when a comic that would do an impression of somebody. You know how they would turn their back and pretend to transform themselves into that character, do something with their hair, or collar or something like that.” He’s like, after you get the suggestion, I want you to turn around and I want you to do that. And I was like, what, this is ridiculous. He already thinks I’m an asshole. Everybody was just really on edge.

So we started, we get the first suggestion, I was like okay great, I turned around, pretended to like, you know, and then I turned back around to give a monologue. And it actually worked. It was like “Holy shit that was actually a pretty funny story.” And then they did some scenes. And it was time to do another monologue and I turned around, did the same thing, told a story, and then again another monologue. And then they did some scenes and Del’s like, “Alright, cool. We’re done.” And then he just left.

We spent like 20 minutes practicing, and then it was like, shit the show’s on Monday. So, I felt a little bit better because it was like okay, this little device seems to work for me, I don’t know why, some strange Del magic. But then, over the weekend, I lost my voice. I was so nervous like by Saturday night, I could not get words out. I had like laryngitis. I went to work on Monday, and again, I tried to spend the whole day not talking. And I went up to iO after work and slowly my voice started coming back. It kind of just came back just in time for the show.

We did the first show and I did all that stuff Del said, and it was just like…wow. It was a kick-ass show. I did work that was worthy of the cast. I didn’t feel like I totally let them down and all that stuff. And then from then on it was just a hit show.

I did it for a few months, and then at a certain point I was like, I don’t know. I’m not gonna become an actor. I’m kind of running out of stories. I don’t feel good about repeating stories. And I was taking time off from work to actually do it. I couldn’t do that indefinitely.

So I said to Charna, “Hey I gotta stop doing the monologues for the show. So why don’t we close the show and then just put up the same kind of show with a new name. Let’s just take my name off it and make it a new show.” And she was like, “No, no we’ll just get someone else to do the monologues.” And I was like, “Are you sure? You know you could change the name.” But they’d put reviews out. It had been labeled. I could see her point. But I was like, “Okay, all right, I could disappear and you guys can keep doing it.” I did my best to fuck it up and not be in it and it was something that was bigger than me.

(As told to Sulaiman Beg and Kelly Donahue)

Friday April 3, 2015, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Magnet, Sulaiman Beg and Kelly Donahue have developed an Oral History of the Magnet Theater.

The full story will be released in early April, but over the coming weeks we will be releasing some interesting stories that didn’t make the final cut.

The first in this series is a profile on how the teachers & founders first discovered improv in their own lives. Read Part 1 here.

———————————-

DISCOVERING IMPROV – PART 2

Herbstman: You know that last thing you think about before you go to bed is usually different every night. For me it was the same thing every night. It was, I’ve got to audition and get into Second City. It became pretty consuming for me. I cared about it a lot. My stomach would be turning. It worked out. I auditioned and they hired me.

Andrews: I just loved it. I just thought it was so much fun. I had never done any theater, I had never done anything artistic of any kind. But i was just super fun. I was really bad at it because I had terrible ADD I couldn’t focus on anything. It was a nice challenge for me to have to learn how to listen, to get good at that. I just remember it was one of my favorite things to do.

Herbstman: After I did five levels with Razwowsky he was like, now do you really want to learn how to do this? And he told me to go study at IO with Del. And I did. At 17, I went and took my first class with Charna.

Diaz: Back then, Improv Olympic would just take up residency in some bar. I didn’t question it back then, it was just kind of like, of course, that’s how you take comedy classes. Having started a theater, I realized wow, she had to do whatever she had to. It was just kind of like, a very gypsy kind of existence.

Herbstman: My iO Level 1 class was Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Neil Flynn, Ali Farahnakian, John Rosenfeld, Andrew Moskos — those guys started Boom Chicago. Shortly thereafter, maybe 6-8 months after that there was Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Rachel Dratch was performing there and also taking classes. There were under 50 people doing iO at the time.

Diaz: Del was just teaching the last level. You got into Del’s class and then you stayed in Del’s class forever. There was no graduation. You kept on showing up Monday night. There were like 30 people in the class, people on house teams.

Herbstman: I chose to go to Northwestern because they had a great improv group there that I wanted to be a part of and I also wanted to continue taking classes at IO, which I did all through college. Pretty much just wanted to get into Second City. That was my only goal. College was mostly just how do I get more stage time and do more improv and get better at it so I can be prepared for my Second City audition.

Diaz: Sometimes guests would come by. I remember [Chris] Farley, he graduated from IO and then was cast in Second City and he was doing Second City Mainstage, I remember him showing up and then sitting in on Del’s class. That was such an insane experience because it was Del in the first place which, he was was so scary, and smart, and such an authority. And you had all these other people that were amazing improvisers. You felt like, “What am I doing here? I’m just a freshman and here’s all these seniors.”

Andrews: In high school, my friend and I were annoying in improv and a lot of people didn’t really like us, contrary to how they might remember it now. We auditioned every year for everything. We didn’t get cast in anything. Nobody ever asked us to be in a group with them. The first time I ever got cast to be in a group with other people was when I went to college and that was after I was doing improv for like seven years. The team was called Suspicious of Whistlers, which is not a good name.

McNerney: I went in and I auditioned for The Meow Show at Northwestern, and I didn’t know it, but they had combined their auditions with this new long form group, called Titanic Players and so I accidentally auditioned for that. I came for The Meow Show. I didn’t know what long form was. But I got cast on the Titanic Players. My sophomore year there was a new freshman group cast and I became the first assistant director. Junior year I became a coach, and I cast Nick Kanellis on the next freshman team. He and Matt B. Weir, and Zoe Garmin from the Mindy Project were all on that team. My senior year, Russ Armstrong and Nick were in The Meow Show with me.

Marino: Ed was at iO West when I got there. I saw him onstage a bunch of times there. I thought he was great. I was like, who the fuck is that guy? This guy’s great. He sat in with a group called Tiny Hostages that did The Movie. They did that on a night that I performed. I auditioned for a Harold team at IO. Didn’t get on one. Not getting on a Harold team put me on a path to expedite my move out to New York, to do so as soon as possible. I moved there in 2003.

McNerney: I moved to New York in 2005. I knew I was going to do improv. I knew UCB was out here. I drove all my stuff out here the week before graduation, dropped my stuff off at my sublet and then drove to my Level 1 with Chris Gethard and then the next day drove back to graduate. And then the day after graduation, flew back to take my second class.

Andrews: I moved to New York in 2009 to do grad school. This was a point where I was like, I need to keep doing improv. I applied to PHD programs. But, I only applied to grad schools in New York and Chicago, so that I could keep doing improv which should have been a pretty good sign of, hey, just go do your thing.

Wednesday April 1, 2015, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Magnet, Sulaiman Beg and Kelly Donahue have developed an Oral History of the Magnet Theater.

The full story will be released in early April, but over the coming weeks we will be releasing some interesting stories that didn’t make the final cut.

The first in this series is a profile on how the teachers & founders first discovered improv in their own lives.

———————————-

DISCOVERING IMPROV – PART 1

Armando Diaz: I grew up in Illinois, south suburbs Chicago, a place called Country Club hills. It was a regular old suburb. There weren’t really country clubs. I had this friend in high school, Kevin Dorff, who kind of woke up comedy in me. He was voted class clown. Really funny guy. We’d write little sketches back and forth during class. I didn’t realize they were sketches back then.

Ed Herbstman: I lived in the suburbs of Chicago and about fifteen to twenty minutes away from my house by car was Second City. We would go to the improv sets on weekends. The weekend sets were 10:30 – 11:00 on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We went to every single one.

Diaz: I was in film school at Columbia College, in the program they had suggested if you’re interested in being a director, one thing you want to do is take an acting class from the acting department. I took a class and the teacher had graduated from the Second City training. He was a traditional actor but he would have us do a lot of improv in the class. That was fun. I had never done that before.

Alex Marino: My counselor at church camp in high school was a guy named Michael Lewis, he introduced me to improv. He was really involved with a short form troupe called Comedy Sportz, which had a franchise, weirdly, in Bakersfield, California, where I grew up. I got on my high school Comedy Sportz team, and if you got on, every Saturday you would meet for a couple hours next to a comic book store, in an abandoned tanning salon, and do improv.

Rick Andrews: My dad found some listing for ImprovBoston, when I was 11 or 12. They used to have Sunday afternoon shows, which was a terrible idea. We went down and saw a show, and no one was there but my family. They weren’t even supposed to do the show, they were supposed to cancel if it was less than ten people. But they did the show. It was great. In my mind, it was great.

Louis Kornfeld: My senior prom, myself, Charlie Whitcroft and Corey Grimes decided not to go to prom. Instead, we pooled our money and got a hotel room together. We got like a bottle of whiskey, and that was our night. Megan came too. The next day, we had some time before we had to check out, so we walked around the neighborhood a bit. This was like on 22nd Street. We were walking and we just happened to bump into the UCB 4 who were all outside smoking outside of their old theater. They’d just opened it.

Megan Gray: We would go in to see UCB shows in high school. We had heard they have teen classes and we were like ahh, I don’t know. We were always too scared, or we didn’t have time. We were making videos and stuff.

Peter McNerney: I had done a little short form in theater class in middle school and high school. My first week at Northwestern, I saw The Meow Show, which was this historic short form and sketch show that’s been around since the 70s. Ed was in it, and Melanie Hoopes and Rachel Hamilton and Julia Louis Dreyfus. It was this big deal show and I saw that and I was like I want to do that!

Gray: I was a dramatic writing/screenwriting major, and I had read somewhere that Conan O’Brien had said improv is a good way for writers to get over writer’s block so I thought that would be really cool.

Kornfeld: Megan’s dad signed us up for UCB Level 1 in October 2003. Me and Megan, and Corey and Charlie. And in that class we met Kelly Buttermore and Jon Bander. We also met Damon Ketron in Level 2.

Herbstman: When I got a car at 16, I would just go by myself and be one of the weirdos that was in line for every show and would see every show. At that time it was Dave Razowsky, Steve Carell, Amy Sedaris. I had just missed Colbert. It was just awesome. I mean imagine seeing Steve Carell four nights a week do improv. And Dave Razowsky who’s just awesome. And them doing it together. It was just really funny.

Diaz: I ran into Kevin Dorff one day and he had just gone to see a show at Improv Olympic that his sister recommended. He mentioned it to me and said, “Hey you gotta take this class.” It was with Charna. We went to this German bar, and it’s empty. It’s Wednesday night at 7:00. There’s no internet, everything is done by phone. We sat there for 20 minutes, and nobody showed up. It was just me and Kevin and the German bartender. Finally, […] Charna called the bar and was like, oh we’re pushing back the class a week. I don’t know why we did, but we came back the next week and people showed up and we had our first class and it was just like.. By the end both of us were just like, totally excited, totally pumped. It was great.

Herbstman: I was seeing so many shows at Second City, eventually they were like you could take classes here, and I was like, are you kidding me? I got a job tearing tickets, being a house manager, seating people. Suddenly, I was working there on the weekend and that meant free classes for me. So I would seat people and watch every single show, because I had to sit there and watch the show while the show was going on which was great.

Andrews: I kept seeing a bunch of of shows at ImprovBoston, and the AD was just like, take our class. He popped my friend Mike and I into their adult classes. So it was two 12-year old boys and a bunch of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. We were annoying. We were mature for 12, but the would put us at, like, 15.

Marino: When I got a car, and was able to drive myself there, I went and started taking classes in LA at iO West. I lived in my car for awhile in Los Angeles, just taking classes at IO, until some people in one of my classes learned that and was like, don’t do that, you shouldn’t do that, you should come live with me. And they put me up on couches.

Herbstman: My teacher for Level 1 and Level 2 was Dave Razowsky. Level 3 was Steve Carell. I had Level 4 and 5 with Dave Razowsky again. It was great. And I was 16-17, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or where to go to school or wherever but I knew improv was the one core fundamental thing that I wanted it all to revolve around.

Continue to Part 2…

Thursday November 10, 2011, 9:20pm - by admin

The Magnet Training Center is a pretty special space. We moved in while it was still the home of Mike Nichols acting school, The New Actors Workshop, which he founded with Paul Sills (the son of Viola Spolin) and George Morrison.

And we got to spend about six months occupying the same space.

The improv roots run deep in these rooms.  For over 20 years, New Actors taught acting, improvisation, voice and movement as an integrated system.  Original games from Improvisation for the Theater were interwoven with acting systems developed by Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, Sanford Meisner, and others.  Nichols, Morrison and Sills saw improvisation as a necessary component in actor training and essential to the development of their craft. more

Thursday November 10, 2011, 8:14pm - by admin

Test Drive features brand new scripted works never before seen on the Magnet stage, from sketch and one-person shows to short films, stand-up and more. These shows are so new they still have that new comedy smell.

Test Drive is open to all.  To submit a scripted show, click here.

To submit new pieces of improvisation, see The Rundown.

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