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

Archive for the ‘Sketch’ Category

Wednesday January 14, 2015, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

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Sketch Club is a drop-in sketch writing workshop devoted to qualified sketch students and performers who are interested in developing and performing their own material. The drop-in will meet on Saturdays 3-6pm beginning February 7th. Members of Sketch Club will workshop original sketches every week at a table read run by Armando Diaz. Participants will be encouraged to try out their sketches at the soon-to-premiere “Generator” show on Sundays at 6pm. Interested in participating? Email SketchClub@magnettheater.com for more information!

Monday January 12, 2015, 4:43pm - by Megan Gray

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Hold on to your NuvaRings. The Lady Sketch Show is back—and this year, we want YOU to help us make it bigger and better than ever!

Here’s how it’ll work:

We’ll be meeting on Saturdays 12-3 at the new Magnet Training Center (22 West 32nd Street, 10th floor) for six weeks starting January 31st.

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 16th, 23rd and 30th at 7pm).

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.

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

 

 

Monday December 22, 2014, 9:11pm - by Megan Gray

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Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to Action Park and Baby Shoes:

NEW TEAM NICHOLS directed by Rob Webber
Kim Ferguson
Becca Schall
Lane Kwederis
Brandon Lisy
Matt Alspaugh
Kelly Kreye
Alex Kane
Patrick Haggerty
Lex Morales

NEW TEAM MAY directed by Jana Schmieding
Pratima Mani
Rosie Whalen
Elena Skopetos
Jesse Mudrick
Ross Taylor
Jimmy O’Connell
Andrew Mills
Ari Miller
Trumane Alston

 

Tuesday November 11, 2014, 4:25pm - by Megan Gray

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The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the next round of SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from January 18th through April 26th!

The following information will tell you everything you need to know in order to submit, what will be expected of you, and all the deadlines for everything. Good Luck!

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Wednesday August 20, 2014, 10:55am - by Megan Gray

sketch teams logo    Toastmaster

Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to Party. and Baby Shoes:

NEW TEAM KEENAN directed by Kevin Cobbs
Matt Antonucci
Jen Chuck
Kate Emswiler
Chris Hastings
Joe Lepore
Kyle Levenick
Charles Nicholson
Adam Twitchell
Rob Webber
NEW TEAM KEL directed by Jesse Acini
Michael Lutton
Phoebe Tyers
Will Quinn
Andrew Vuilleumier
Eli Itzkowitz
Diego Martinez
Catherine Montesi
Sam Palmer
Matt Wassung
Monday July 21, 2014, 1:14pm - by catherinewing

Lane KwederisLane Kwederis is a sketch performer at Magnet (she and I are the two women on the sketch house team, Party.) Lane also performs with her indie improv team, Power Nap, and her PIT musical team, [Title of Team] (That’s the actual title of the team, not a placeholder for this article). She’s got skills.  And she’s a wonderful person.

And I got to ask her some brilliant questions.  I’m such a good interviewer.  Check it out:

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Tuesday July 1, 2014, 1:55pm - by Magnet Theater

sketch teams logo Calculator and pencil image

The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the next round of SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from September 7th through December 14th!

The following information will tell you everything you need to know in order to submit, what will be expected of you, and all the deadlines for everything.  Good Luck!

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Tuesday June 17, 2014, 1:43pm - by Magnet Theater

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Baby Shoes fresh off their trip to Montreal continues to take the show on the road! Magnet Theater’s notoriously dark humored house sketch team is trekking down to Philly to perform some of their best sketches. If you happen to be in Philly, check them out at 9:00 P.M. on Friday, June 20th at PHIT’s new home in the Adrienne Theatre.

The cast’s credits include “iCarly,” “House, MD,” Newsweek, The Huffington Post, Broadway.com, The Truth Podcast, Reductress, Story Pirates,  as well as an LA Weekly Award winner and an ATX Television Festival Pitch Competition winner.  Check out their youtube channel for some of their live sketches!

Baby Shoes is Roger Ainslie, Chano Garcia, Bob Kern, Ally Kornfeld, Michael McLarnon, Megan Meadows, Andy Moskowitz, Nivea Serrao, and Amanda Xeller. They are directed by Alex Marino.

Tuesday June 10, 2014, 9:29am - by Amanda Ariel Peggy Xeller

Ally Kornfeld

Ally Kornfeld, (Baby Shoes), one of the Magnet’s sketch writers, got a chance to take her idea for a TV Show, Cracking Royalty, to Austin Texas. She was one of the ten finalists in the ATX Television Festival’s Pitch Competition this past weekend. What is the Pitch Competition? It’s a chance to pitch an idea for a TV show to not only a live audience but to a panel of industry judges including Paul Scheer, Bryan Seabury, Julie Plec, Kyle Killen, Katie Krentz, and David Semel. Oh and get this: SHE WON.

 

“This winner will receive a meeting with one of our judges (based on the show’s genre/judges’ availability) to explore the idea of his/her series and gain notes to better develop the series. After the pitch is honed, the winner will then get a pitch meeting in front of one of our studio/network partners (again, dependent on the show’s genre and style) to try and sell his or her pilot for production.”

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Friday April 18, 2014, 9:27am - by catherinewing

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The Montreal Sketch Comedy Festival just announced its 2014 lineup, and the Magnet Theater is proud to be represented by three of its teams: the veteran duo, Listen, Kid!, and two of its house teams from Sketch Sunday, Baby Shoes and Party.

I recently chatted with Alessandro King of Listen, Kid! about life, sketch writing and sketch directing, and festival first-timer advice.

Listen Kid

Hi, Al.  Nice tie.  How did you and Kevin Cobbs decide to become a sketch duo?  How long have you been a duo?

Listen, Kid! started four years ago when Kevin and I met in Mark Grenier’s Improv Level 1 at the Magnet.  We kept doing really goofy scenes together where one of us would play a prospector or explode through a door or something, and everyone encouraged us to create an indie duo once class was over.  Rick Andrews was the big brother for the class and he said, “If you guys make a duo, I will coach you.”  So we did, and Rick got us hooked up with two Test Drives, and by Spring of the following year we were doing Tuesday night shows pretty regularly, usually with Upstate or the Oakwood Boys.  It was very much a Magnet Theater Fairy Tale.

We decided to focus on sketch in the Fall of 2011 when someone whose name rhymes with Blick Blandrews suggested we join RIPE with Armando.  We put up our first Listen, Kid! sketch show (I think) in April of 2012, and we’ve been focusing on sketch (Magnet shows, festivals, web videos) ever since, although we still do improv every once in a while, usually with our pals We’re Matt Weir as Listen, Weirs!

Listen, Kid!  Kevin Cobbs (left) and Alessandro King (right)

Listen, Kid! Kevin Cobbs (left) and Alessandro King (right)

How do you both collaborate when writing sketches for a show?  Did you work on sketches together when Kevin went on the Second City cruise ship for 4 months?

Our Clinton/Bush sketch is a pretty good example of how we work as a team.  I read on Wikipedia one night that Bill Clinton supposedly lent George W. Bush his DVD copy of the film “W.” and Bush watched it, commenting to Clinton that it had some “sad moments.”  I immediately called Kevin and told him and said something like, “This is the dumbest thing I have ever read.  We have to make this a sketch.  Was Clinton actually being a pal or was he just trolling?  This is the dumbest thing I have ever read.”  I described to him my visual idea (the whole sketch is a series of phone conversations between the two, with each president sitting in a special light), and Kevin immediately wrote the first draft.  It was eerily similar to what I had in mind, only funnier, with the amazing climax of Bush e-mailing Clinton scans of his paintings and Clinton weeping profusely at their profound beauty.  I made a couple of small changes and it was ready to go.

Kevin’s internet access was limited on the cruise, we but still managed to go to Chicago Sketch Fest with Branson Reese and Chi-Town friends sitting in for Kevin, edit a new Mad Men-themed web video, share a couple of sketches, and develop a web series idea.  Stay tuned for further updates.

Listen Kid 2

Listen, Kid! was reviewed very favorably by the Chicago Tribune after your performance at this year’s Chicago Sketch Festival.  Does Listen, Kid! have big plans in store for the future?

We’re focusing on web content, getting ready for Montreal, and developing an all-President-themed live sketch show.  You can keep up with us online at listenkidcomedy.com, on YouTube at ListenKidComedy, and on Twitter @ListenKidComedy.

At the Montreal Sketchfest, you will have the unique honor of performing there as a member of a critically acclaimed sketch duo, and as the director of a Magnet sketch house team, Party., that is also performing in the same festival.  Party. is the first sketch house team that you’ve directed at the Magnet.  Why did you decide to become a director?  How has your experience been so far?

Beth Newell asked me to sub in for Breakfast For Dinner a couple of times last year, and I said, “Yes,” instantly.  I just had an inkling that directing sketch would come very easily to me and bring me a lot of creative satisfaction.  It didn’t seem like, say, coaching improv, which I’ve never tried but always assumed I’d be a disaster at.  (I’m still game to prove this wrong some day.)  I had a lovely time as was expected, and asked Beth to keep me in mind if a directing slot opened up.  When they formed new teams in September, I got asked to direct one for the season.

I absolutely love directing Party., and look forward to every minute of it during the week. They continue to impress me with their commitment and professionalism and blow me away with their rapid growth, particularly as performers.

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You run Party. like Singapore.  The streets are spotless, we attend meetings punctually and are off-book at every Saturday rehearsal, and we fear you. What is your philosophy as a director?  How did you decide upon benevolent dictatorship as the best way to run a sketch team?  (Editor’s Note: The interviewer, Catherine Wing, is a member of Party.)

If I’m a benevolent dictator, keep in mind that I’m only partially responsible for that dynamic: deep down, there is something inside every one of you that wants me to rule you like a king.

I’m a playwright, so I run my writing meetings like a playwright’s workshop, meaning my goal is to help you write the best version of your sketch.  I have no interest in forcing my own ideas or telling you what I think should happen next.  If I do make a specific suggestion, I try to make it very clear that that’s only one possible route for the sketch.

When show week comes along, I make a setlist and become a director.  At that point, what I say, goes, and the edits I want to happen, happen.  It’s a very different dynamic from the writing meetings.

You guest directed the Magnet sketch house team, Baby Shoes, for their most recent show.  Is it true that they plied you with free liquor, charmed you with their good looks and talent, and took you to Rye Playland to ride the roller coaster?  They are performing at the Montreal Sketchfest too, you know.

They did take me to Rye Playland, and let me just say that Bob Kern and I have only exited the Tunnel of Love in the literal sense of the word.

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What advice would you give to sketch teams that are going to their very first out-of-town festival?

It’s impossible to accurately predict the audience’s reactions.  There will be some sketches they will love, but there will always be something that just bombs and you had no way to stop it.  When that happens, don’t get caught up trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong in the moment: theres nothing to fix, it’s just not their cup of tea.  Get through the sketch and move on to the next thing.  That’s the beauty of sketch as opposed to improv: you get to wipe your slate clean every couple of minutes.

What weird stuff did you learn about Kevin when Listen, Kid! traveled on the road together for the first time?  And what weird stuff did Kevin learn about you?

Each trip is really Kevin’s learning experience because every time I offer to take the wheel, he has to devise new ways to say, “No thanks, I don’t want to die today.”

Listen, Kid! does improv?  Just the two of you?  Do you have guests sit in with you?  Who might they be, and when can we witness this rare opportunity to see Listen, Kid! improvise?

This Friday, April 18th, at 11:30 PM, we will be taking the Magnet stage for the first time since Kevin’s return. We’re going to be doing our classic improv form, which is an improvised movie hosted by decrepit Hollywood producer Irv Newberg and his dim-witted assistant Charlie Tickertape. It’s a great way to see how this all started and there will be special guests, all of them popular recurring characters from the Listen, Kid! universe. There is only one way to find out who they are and that is to come on down.

Thanks, Al!

Al Horse 2

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