Magnet Theater Blog
We’ve been lucky to welcome so many out-of-town guests recently and we’re excited to say that our latest visitor is the incredible Jean Villepique. One of the earliest teachers and performers at Magnet, Jean was recently back in town from Los Angeles to perform in Bummers Presents: Running. Our host, Louis Kornfeld, gets the ball rolling in this episode by asking about the origin story of Bummers, Jean’s annual(ish) writing and storytelling collaboration with Rachel Hamilton, Tami Sagher, and Melanie Hoopes. She and Louis discuss catching up with good friends by performing with them and the detriments of the more typical checklist conversations people tend to have when they haven’t seen each other recently. Jean talks about her first exposure to improv doing commedia dell’arte as a teen, joining The Meow Show at Northwestern University, where she met Magnet founder Ed Herbstman, and some of her early days at iO Chicago and Second City. Louis also asks his former Level 2 teacher about her improv show Switchboard, encouraging players to take risks, her stint on The Office, and bringing personal stuff to the stage. Hear about the time someone grabbed Louis by the beard! Listen in awe as Louis pontificates that we’re more than mere mammals! Sit in wonder as these two talk about doing drugs! It’s a great episode, so give it a listen.
Or simply enjoy Episode #47 below via SoundCloud.
- commedia dell'arte
- ed herbstman
- io chicago
- Jean Villepique
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- melanie hoopes
- new york
- new york city
- Northwestern University
- rachel hamilton
- Second City
- sketch comedy
- Tami Sagher
- The Meow Show
- The Office
Where is Magnet Theater?
259 W 29th St. (at 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10001
Where is Magnet Training Center?
22 W 32nd St. (b/t 5th Ave and B’way)
New York, NY 10001
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).
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:
- All advanced reservations are gone (you can probably still get in but you won’t be able to set any tickets aside).
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A purveyor of weird in an increasingly codified comedy landscape, Jo Firestone sits down with us to talk about her numerous shows, how she approaches her art, and of course, City Museum in St. Louis. Host Louis Kornfeld kicks off this episode asking Jo whether she creates shows for her resume or because they interest her. As a prolific producer — she hosts Dr. Gameshow on WFMU, Punderdome 3000, Friends of Single People, and Firestone Success Academy (among many others) — Jo says you have to do it for yourself. She and Louis discuss how it feels weird to listen to and celebrate your own shows and Louis challenges Jo to create a new show with the suggestion of “farm.” Hear about Jo’s recent ventures to see art rather than comedy and how seeing bad art encourages you to take risks. Jo pontificates on the question of quantity versus quality and how she considers the audience when creating shows. Plus! Jo tells us the stupidest ideas she has ever gone through with and one of the very best moments from her many shows. Catch her now because she’s about to go on tour with a rock band and before you know it, she’ll be bigger than hip hop.
Or simply enjoy Episode #46 below via SoundCloud.
Chicago improv legend and co-founder of The Annoyance Theater, Joe Bill, stops by the studio to talk with host Louis Kornfeld. Fresh off a trip to France and England, Joe tells us about his recent attempt to perform improv in French, how he still gets nervous for certain shows, and how he has learned to channel that energy. Louis talks to Joe about improv elder Martin de Maat and how he influenced The Annoyance’s approach. Also, find out what, “Take care of yourself” means to Joe and hear about his extensive experience teaching and training corporate groups. These two well-spoken gentlemen also discuss the capacity of the “group mind,” “the rules of improv,” and “much more.” Stream or download ASAP, people!
Or simply enjoy Episode #45 below via SoundCloud.
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
Team Performance Workshop
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 email@example.com.
And feel free to spread the word to your friends and teammates—referrals are welcomed and encouraged!
It’s been over a month here at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam!
I am proud to say I am neither a skeleton nor a terrible blubbering mess. My inherent neuroses have slowly acclimated to the beautiful weather, brutally practical Dutch people, and performing sketch and shortform 5 nights a week.
Occasionally the audience has drunken screaming British bachelor parties that only yell “dildo” as suggestions!
Guess who’s in town! Chicago-based improv luminary Susan Messing stopped by while in NYC to talk to us about teaching improv, being malleable, and giving TED Talks. Lots of great questions are addressed in this episode, such as: Where’s the line between taking care of yourself and being selfish? What’s Susan’s take on the current state of long-form? And do you want to have sex right, or have sex? Louis and Susan discuss how to play with difficult improvisers, sorting out your voice amidst the variety of improv philosophies present today, and the importance of revisiting everything you’ve put out there so that you don’t leave things by the wayside. Plus, hear Louis’ “butt theory” and Susan’s thoughts on the early days of the Harold under Del Close and his role as an experimenter and teacher. Huzzah!
Or simply enjoy Episode #44 below via SoundCloud.
This week on the podcast we welcome prolific performer, writer, and director Laura Grey to talk with us about comedy and living a life surrounded by it. With credits at theaters such as Magnet, UCB, and Second City, Laura has come a long way since her time as a creative writing and poetry major at Northwestern University. Host Louis Kornfeld talks to Laura about the early days of Comedy Central, getting her start in Chicago, and of course, Game of Thrones. They discuss the dynamics of performers in Chicago and New York and how they connect to the audiences differently. Plus, Laura provides advices on creating characters and tells us what she thinks of her comedic voice. There’s a lot of other great stuff in this episode that will no doubt make you a better person, so we suggest you give it a listen!