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

Thursday June 28, 2012, 1:25pm - by catherinewing

GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL will be having its final show this Friday night, June 29th at 8:30pm at the Magnet Theater.  Tickets are going fast, so get them now before the show sells out!  Psssst … if you want discount tickets for $7, use the code “POTUS Felching” when you buy your tickets HERE.

Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel.  Book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte.

Starring: Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, TJ Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.

In case you’ve missed the earlier installments of the Magnet Blog’s interview with GAY BOMB co-writer, Steve Whyte, here they are: Part 1 and Part 2.  And now, our third and final installment of the interview.

Magnet Blog:  Did you do comedy in college?  What did you study/major in?

Steve Whyte:  I didn’t really do any comedy in college. I emcee’d events which involved a smidgeon of comedy — the cheesy kind that one might have found in a resort in the Poconos in the 1950s.  I majored in Linguistics at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!).  No, I don’t speak any other languages, but I can get around in Mexico, and in Mandarin, I can count to ten and say “I’m a crazy American.”  But really I spent the majority of my time playing in the student Jazz Ensembles where I played drums in various combos and big bands.  And after college I stayed in the music business, playing at clubs, weddings, lounges, etc., until Chris and I started our goofy, college sports TV show, “Out of Bounds” on SportsChannel National (now FoxSports).  We managed to win an Emmy, though Jamie Cummings will point out that it’s a regional Emmy, and that the local weather man probably had a down year.

MB:  Who or what are your comedic influences?

SW:  I’m a sucker for satire.  Bill Maher, The Daily Show, Parker and Stone (South Park, Book of Mormon), Stephen Colbert, Janeane Garofalo, Bill Hicks, the Tea Baggers, and many others.

MB:  You have been very open about your obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  Mike Sacks, author of the book, And Here’s The Kicker, makes the connection between comedy writers and OCD.  Have you found that your OCD kicks in while you’re doing improv, or if it informs how you approach/write comedy?

SW:  For me, when I’m doing improv, or playing drums, I usually get relief from the OCD.  Those are usually the rare times it seems to disappear—only to come roaring back once the show is over. I heard this is sometimes the case for Tourette’s sufferers — their tics stop while they’re involved in their performance. On the other hand, my OCD experiences provide a wealth of material to draw upon. I guess there’s lots of comedy to be found in being totally freaked out and paralyzed by everyday shit.

MB:  Any future projects in the works now?

SW:  Chris and I are working on a couple of other projects.  One takes place in the not-too-distant future, where people have to rent a mechanical penis from the government in order to procreate and/or have sexual experiences that require a phallus.  Males have their biological penises removed at birth.  All seems normal in society until an adult male shows up with a flesh penis.  Wackiness ensues.

Thanks, Steve!  You are all warmly invited to join the cast and crew of GAY BOMB  at the Closing Night party after the show on Friday, at 10pm at Smithfield, 215 W. 28th Street.  See you there!


Thursday June 28, 2012, 10:54am - by seantaylor
newsletter_edited

The Armando Diaz Experience! Choral Rage! New Musical Teams!

Magnet Theater
June 27, 2012 

 

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Featured Shows

 

The legendary show is reborn by the man who made it famous. A rotating cast of all-stars perform scenes inspired by the masterful monologues of the man himself, the Magnet’s own, Armando Diaz.
Featuring: Tami Sagher, Ed Herbstman, Christina Gausas

Sunday, July 1st

8:00pm

For more information, click here!

CHORAL RAGE!

Join RAGE for their closing night as they dabble in the world of experimental musical improvisation and theatrical exploration.
Saturday June 30th
9pm

 

MAGNET CLASSES
Level One for Experienced Improvisors

 

How are your fundamentals? It’s easy for experienced improvisers to underestimate the importance of the basics. The truly great performers, however, develop discipline in the fundamentals of good improv and return continuously to them for inspiration. This class is designed to bring experienced improvisers back to the beginning to reconnect with what’s essential and to develop the good habits and skills that will serve you for as long as you continue to improvise. Prerequisite: A year or more of improv training.

 

 

 

 Upcoming

Congratulations to the new Musical Megawatt teams!
Get ready for the
Tuesday, July 10th premieres!

TEAM OPRAH
Chano Garcia
John Heffley
T.J. Mannix
Maya Deshmukh
Robin Rothman
Joel Arandia
Brad Benson
Ren McDermott
TEAM MONTEL
Richard Dery
Oleg Slinin
Shaun Farrugia
Chris Simpson
Olivia Petzy
Andrew Cornelius
Ariana Murphy
Susan Pickover
TEAM TYRA
Kirk Damato
Leslie Collins
Roman Pietrs
Douglas Widdick
Gretchen Poole
Lorraine Cink
Jordan Hirsch
Abby Holland
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Magnet Theater | 254 West 29th Street | New York | NY | 10001

 

 

Friday June 15, 2012, 9:07am - by catherinewing

As New York City Pride kicks off this weekend, the Magnet Theater is proud to present Pride Night 2012!  We’ve got a sparkly line-up of shows tonight that highlight LGTBQ issues and LGBTQ performers, with lots of sketch, music, and improv. Let’s take a walk across the rainbow, shall we?

At 7pm, we have the one-man show, Cock of the Walk. Written and performed by Athos Cakiades, and directed by Kelly Haran, Cock of the Walk introduces you to five characters that explore masculinity and the male psyche in ways that will tickle your funny bone. It promises to be “pretty dirty” and “rather gay,” which is our idea of a good time at the Magnet Theater on a Friday night.  Also, it’s a Time Out New York Critics’ Pick!

At 8:30pm, Gay Bomb: The Musical returns to the Magnet stage for its June run. Check out all the media attention, from the featured article on the front page of EDGE New York, to the blurb in Chelsea Now. There are only four shows left, so if you haven’t gotten GAY BOMBed yet, it is highly recommended that you come see the show very soon. And (shhhhh!) we’ve got a secret discount code for $7 tickets. Please enter “POTUS Felching” when you buy your tickets here.

Friday, 6/15, 8:30pm
Monday, 6/18, 8:30pm
Friday, 6/22, 8:30pm
Friday, 6/29, 8:30pm (Closing Night)

Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel, and book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte.

Starring: Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, TJ Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.

At 10pm, we have a special Made-Up Musical with a cast of LGBTQ performers, all from Musical Megawatt house teams: Melissa Gordon, Oscar Montoya, Andrew Fafoutakis, T.J. Mannix, Michael Lutton, and Catherine Wing.   You can’t have a full night of LGBTQ comedy without musical improv, right?

The LGBTQ cast of tonight's Made-Up Musical

All the singing and dancing and Broadway jazz hands will get you nicely warmed up for the final show of the night.

At 11:30pm, There’s No Place Like Home presents a GLTBQ All-Star Improv Event.  Andrew Fafoutakis hosts a special night of homo hilarity with a cast of improv superstars: Bianca Casusol, Kevin Gilligan, Melissa Gordon, Scott Lawrie, Michael Lutton, T.J. Mannix, Michael Martin, Oscar Montoya, Louie Pearlman, Nathan Peterman, Emily Schorr Lesnick, Emily Shapiro, Steven Slate, Lauren Ashley Smith, Catherine Wing, and a Super Special Guest!  It’s a fantastic and fun way to end Pride Night 2012.  But don’t just take our word for it.  Check it out — There’s No Place Like Home is a Time Out New York Critics’ Pick!  Come on by and celebrate Pride with us tonight!

Wednesday June 13, 2012, 10:12am - by seantaylor
newsletter_edited

Jazz Freddy! Pride Night! The Circuit!

Magnet Theater
June 13, 2012 

 

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Featured Shows

 

“Jazz Freddy” is the fifth installment of The Director Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form.

This month Charlie Whitcroft is directing “Jazz Freddy.”

The show first centers on the past, present and future of one character and then spirals into an exploration of the character’s world.

Thursdays in July

10pm

For more information, click here!

Magnet Theater Presents: 
Pride Night 2012
Join Magnet Theater for a night of all-star GLBTQ programing.  Featuring:

 

*Time Out New York Critic’s Pick!*

 

 

Friday, June 15th shows at 7, 8:30, 10, 11:30

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

MAGNET CLASSES
Magnet Summer Intensive:
Become an Excellent Improvisor.  

 

Immerse yourself in improvisation for three weeks in Magnet Theater’s Improv Summer Intensive. Students will study improv 25 hours per week, completing 3 full levels of Magnet improv training in only three weeks. The intensive program concludes with a student graduation show, directed by Magnet founder Armando Diaz.

 

Students who complete the intensive will be eligible to start at Level 4 in the Magnet program.

 

MAGNET NEWS 
The Circuit Is Back!

 

New Circuit Teams?  Yes!  Apply Now.

 

The next round of The Circuit begins July 13th! The Circuit features Harold teams made-up of both current Magnet students and veteran Magnet performers. Anyone who has completed Magnet Level 3 or higher (and is not currently on a Megawatt team or in Team Performance Workshop) can apply. Performers will be chosen randomly by lottery. Teams will rehearse weekly with an assigned coach and have a 3 month run of shows on Friday nights at the Studio Theater.

Want to apply, fill out this form:

Circuit Application

Deadline to apply is June 23rd.  Do it now!!  And good luck.

 

Magnet Training Center

 

Hiring Part-Time Assistant

Magnet Training Center 
has a part-time position opening!
Position: Part-Time Magnet Training Center Assistant
Hours: 10-15 Hours/Week; Thursdays 1pm-7pm and Sundays 11am-7pm*
Duties: Answer phones/field questions, clerical assistant work, organizing, supervise on duty interns, cleaning/organizing
*Hours are subject to change.
To apply for this position, please email your resume and cover letter to Kim@magnettheater.com. We will only contact those who we are considering for the position. No calls, please.

 

 Upcoming

Coming In July…

SKETCH SUNDAY
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Tuesday June 12, 2012, 2:48pm - by admin

New Circuit Teams?  Yes!  Apply Now.

The next round of The Circuit begins July 13th! The Circuit features Harold teams made-up of both current Magnet students and veteran Magnet performers. Anyone who has completed Magnet Level 3 or higher (and is not currently on a Megawatt team or in Team Performance Workshop) can apply. Performers will be chosen randomly by lottery. Teams will rehearse weekly with an assigned coach and have a 3 month run of shows on Friday nights at the Studio Theater.

Want to apply, fill out this form:

Circuit Application Form

Deadline to apply is June 23rd.  Do it now!!  And good luck.

Wednesday June 6, 2012, 10:52pm - by WillyAppelman

Poster by Carly Monardo

Jazz Freddy is the fifth installment of The Director Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form. This month, Charlie Whitcroft directs a form named after the Chicago group that made it famous. Kevin Cragg, Tony Mui, Gretchen Poole, Jamie Rivera, Sandra Struthers, Teddy Shivers, Mike Ferreira and Kristy Wesolowski take the stage under Whitcroft’s mighty direction. We spoke with Charlie about his choice to present the form.

What is Jazz Freddy?

Structurally, Jazz Freddy is a 4 scene tag-out piece that starts in the present (whatever that means), then tags to the past, tags to the past again, then tags to the future. Simple though it is, it can only be performed by a stellar cast. We get to meet a character, see a bit of her developmentally significant life moments, then see how things turn out for her. Then there’s a further exploration of the other characters we’ve met, and the world they live in. Jazz Freddy is named after the group that performed it first in Chicago in 1992. The first cast included Jimmy Carrane, Rachel Dratch, Dave Koechner, Noah Gregoropoulos, Miriam Tolan, Kevin Dorff, Brian Stack, Meredith Zinner, and others. I’ve heard that it was the first long form show to use tag-outs. I don’t know if that’s true, and I haven’t been able to find anyone who was even alive in 1992 to confirm or deny.

Why did you choose this form?

Two things that I love about the Jazz Freddy – it’s not too complicated, and it’s a lot of fun. The Boss performed Jazz Freddy for a long time as part of Megawatt. We added a lot of our own touches to it, but the simple structure was there. I’m sure there are other groups that have performed the structure since the original cast, but I don’t know of too many in New York. And I don’t appreciate or respect the anti-Jazz Freddy regulations that the Mayor is trying to put in place. Read the news. These are important issues.

What is the future of improv?

I don’t know… I hope it stays out of the drug business. Liquor and gambling have been fine. I’d like to see it go completely legit, maybe clean up some of the money in real estate or something like that.

~~~

Jazz Freddy takes the stage Thursdays at 10pm in June! Check out the opening night, Thursday 6/7 at 10pm- followed by an after party at Smithfield (28th btw. 7th & 8th). Be sure to catch the show for the password for drink specials!

Friday June 1, 2012, 1:06pm - by admin
Play

susan and christina

In our continuing effort to share great ideas about improvisation, the Q & A series proudly posts this live conversation with Susan Messing and Christina Gausas.  Megan Gray was our host, and the audience at Magnet Theater provided the questions.  This is NSFW because Susan uses the F word a lot.  So put on your headphones.  Unless you’re alone.  Then crank it.

Subscribe with iTunes

Tuesday May 22, 2012, 10:24am - by admin

(We know. They aren’t teens. But we like the picture.)

Summer! No School!  Lot’s of free unstructured time!

LET’S WATCH TV AND PLAY VIDEO GAMES UNTIL OUR BRAINS TURN INTO PUDDING!!  I LOVE PUDDING!!!!

Don’t do that.

Because on June 18th, Elana Fishbein will be kicking off Summer with “Improv for Teens”, a fun class for sharp teens who want to learn and practice the principles of improv.

We talked with Elana about the class, her history with improv and its importance in everyone’s life .

Magnet Blog:  So how did you get started in improv?

Elana Fishbein:  I started improvising pretty seriously when I was fifteen years old and a big part of that was because of the encouragement I received from some fantastic teachers. Under their tutelage I came to understand the ways in which improv can be an awesome and empowering form of expression. I’m excited to follow in their footsteps.

MB:  So what will this class be about?

EF:  In Improv for Teens, students will learn to improvise together in a fun, supportive environment. Games and exercises will focus on collaboration, group mind, character building, commitment, spontaneity, and the most magical principal of improv, “Yes And!” Participants will walk away with a fundamental understanding of long-form improv and the skills to perform grounded, hilarious, improv scenes. The class will culminate with a graduation performance in which students will have the opportunity to wow their friends and loved ones. It’s a super fun show.

Best. Summer. Ever.

Slots are still available, so if you or someone you know is interested in signing up for Improv for Teens check out this link: http://www.magnettheater.com/classlist.php?infoid=1100.

Class begins on June 18th.

Tweet it, Facebook it, and maybe even actually say it out loud to another person in the same room.

Friday May 18, 2012, 2:41pm - by seantaylor
newsletter_edited

Magnet Theater
May 18, 2012 

 

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The second show of the Magnet Theater’s sketch company-in-residence, “America!” will introduce you to characters that will take you on a journey through our national psyche, and explore the people and things that define and inform our American-ness.  Like baseball.  And Ira Glass.  And immigrants.

So unfurl your flags and crack open a cold Sixpoint beer: opening night of “Company 29: America!” is coming your way this Friday, May 18th, at 7pm at the Magnet Theater.

Fri May 18th, 2012, 7:00pm
Sat May 19th, 2012, 9:00pm
Sun May 20th, 2012, 8:00pm
For more information, click here!

The Weave
 

The only rule is that there are no rules. Watch 6 of New York’s best improvisers perform organic freeform improvisation in two mind blowing parts.

Featuring:

Rick Andrews

Ed Herbstman

Chet Siegel

Paul Barker

Frank Bonomo

Alan Fessenden

 Click here to learn more!

MAGNET CLASSES


Magnet Summer Intensive:
Become an Excellent Improvisor.  

 

Immerse yourself in improvisation for three weeks in Magnet Theater’s Improv Summer Intensive. Students will study improv 25 hours per week, completing 3 full levels of Magnet improv training in only three weeks. The intensive program concludes with a student graduation show, directed by Magnet founder Armando Diaz.

 

Students who complete the intensive will be eligible to start at Level 4 in the Magnet program.

 

SPONSORED BY

f

Magnet Theater Training Center
A system designed to turn civilians into exceptional improvisers.  Classes in improvisation lead to performances, and advanced classes lead to regular performances on our stages.  Comedy writing, storytelling, auditioning, musical improvisation, and voice classes provide opportunities for improvisers and creators to expand their comedic range, inform their creative pursuits, and have a great time while doing it.  YES

 

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Thursday May 17, 2012, 12:33pm - by catherinewing

The second show of the Magnet Theater’s sketch company-in-residence, “America!” will introduce you to characters that will take you on a journey through our national psyche, and explore the people and things that define and inform our American-ness.  Like baseball.  And Ira Glass.  And immigrants.

So unfurl your flags and crack open a cold Sixpoint beer: opening night of “Company 29: America!” is coming your way this Friday, May 18th, at 7pm at the Magnet Theater.

Dedicated to producing new and original sketch comedy shows on a continual basis, Company 29 consists of the Magnet’s strongest writers, performers and directors. The goal of Company 29 is to create character-driven, thematically cohesive sketch shows with a unique voice.

Sponsored by: Sixpoint Brewery

These are the writers and performers of America!:

Written By: Paul Barker (Horses, Dumbkowsky), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Tim Eberle (Brick, Alchemy), Amanda Hirsch (Think Improv), Beth Newell (Kiss*Punch*Poem, Dumbkowsky), and Jamaal Sedayao (Brick, Turboner Bigote).

Featuring: Mike Barry (Lead McEnroe), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Ruby Marez (Aquarius), Lauren Olson (Chet Watkins), Christian Paluck (Chet Watkins), Justin Peters (Chet Watkins), Rachel Rauch (Leviathan), Jamaal Sedayao (Brick), Jason Scott Quinn (Silver Fox), and Ross Taylor (Aquarius, The Wrath).

Directed By: Nick Benaquista (Lead McEnroe)

Showtimes:
Fri May 18th, 2012, 7:00pm
Sat May 19th, 2012, 9:00pm
Sun May 20th, 2012, 8:00pm

The Magnet Blog interviewed Company 29 Head Writer, Tim Eberle, to get the inside scoop on Company 29 and how the group prepares for their shows.

Head Writer Tim Eberle with the cast of Company 29

Magnet Blog:  How is Company 29 structured differently from how sketch groups are usually structured?

Tim Eberle:  Company 29 is really structured more like a resident theater company than a sketch group; we’re made up of a writing team, performance, troupe, lighting/sound designer, and directing team. The idea behind the group has always been to bring all of these different aspects together to create full, unique, and cohesive sketch shows, based around a single idea or theme. The scripts are generally character-based and written for specific performers, who work with our director and tech team throughout the rehearsal process to bring the scenes to life in the most engaging way possible. It leads to a “the whole is greater than the total sum of its parts” situation, and really showcases the different talents floating around the Magnet.

MB:  Do the actors write, or the writers act?  Are directors part of the group, or do they rotate/change for each show?

TE:  We definitely have a couple of writer/performers in the group, especially Jamaal Sedayao and Kevin Cobbs. They’re great because they know how to write so well for themselves as well as the other actors in the group. And Jamaal can pull from his Brazilian (I think?) background to give the show some diversity. We have one director (Nick Benaquista) who directs all the Company 29 shows. It’s a big asset having Nick direct multiple shows because he’s developed a great sense for the different writing and performance styles we have, and he can use that when he’s working to build beats and work on characters in rehearsals.

MB:  What is the writing process?

TE:  When we first start working on a new show, the writers will get together to pitch ideas for a theme or structure to the show (like setting the whole show in the world of a public school, as we did with PS2012). Once we’ve settled on the theme, we’ll starting pitching sketch ideas or looking at sketches that people have that could potentially work for the show, and discuss which actors would be the best to play which parts. Over the next few we’ll work as a group pitching jokes, editing the sketches, and tweaking the material to make it work for the actors. So it’s collaborative in that sense, but the onus is really on the individual writers to own their material. We don’t write too many sketches together as a group, but we all work together to make sure the sketches work for the show we want to put on. Once we have enough material, we’ll choose the sketches we want to use in the show, put together the running order, and all that good stuff.

MB:  What’s the timeline of putting a show together, from conception to show time?

TE:  Usually about 2 months. We like to have about three weeks to write and edit and then a little over a month for rehearsals, since scheduling rehearsals for a cast this big and this busy is obviously difficult, and we want to have enough rehearsals for each sketch.

MB:  Was there anything you learned In the process of putting together the first Company 29 show, that you decided to do differently for this upcoming show?

TE:  We’re not going to do the character bits that we did with PS2012 this time around.  They were funny as character pieces in the last show, but they disrupted the flow of the whole piece.  This time, we’re following a more standard sketch revue structure.

MB:  Will there be rolling auditions/submission invitations for folks who are interested in joining Company 29?

TE:  We’ve had the same cast for the last two shows, and they’re fantastic.  We don’t have any plans to hold big auditions in the near future, but we’re always looking to add people here and there. We brought Justin Peters on for this show because we needed someone to play a racist ex-minor-league baseball player, which seemed right in his wheelhouse. We’re bringing on a couple of new writers for the next show as well, and are always looking for more sketch-writers who like the style of sketch that we do.

MB:  Why “America!”?

TE:  The idea really came from the fact that for a little while we thought about doing a political theme for the next show. The more we batted the idea around, the more sketch ideas came up that centered on general Americana, beyond just politics. It seemed like a really fun and relatable theme to play with, so that’s where we went. We ended up with sketches about Ellis Island, Johnny Appleseed, Ira Glass, Kenyan marathon runners, and, interestingly enough, nothing about politics. Which is probably for the best. I don’t think anyone really likes political sketch comedy. Not enough silly voices.

Thanks, Tim!

The audience enjoying the show and the Sixpoint brews.

Company 29 is proud to be sponsored by Sixpoint Craft Ales. Based in Brooklyn, Sixpoint is an innovative craft brewery that makes bold and delicious beers. It is also committed to supporting local creative endeavors, and Company 29 is thrilled to have them as a sponsor. For all you craft beer lovers, Sixpoint is having beer specials at the Magnet for opening night on Friday. Drink up and enjoy the show!

Photos: M.Woody Fu