Magnet Theater Blog
At an early point in an improviser’s development, the names of TJ Jagodowski and David Pasquesi will be mentioned by a teacher, a coach, or a fellow comedy nerd friend. “You gotta go see TJ & Dave.” You will be told that they are the best of the best. You will be advised that their approach towards improvisation is worth incorporating into your own philosophy and growth as a performer.
And you might wonder: why?
Based in Chicago, TJ & Dave are revered as two of the best improvisers in the country. TJ Jagodowski is most recognizable from the long-running series of improvised Sonic Drive-In commercials featuring himself and Peter Grosz. In addition to performing in “TJ & Dave,” TJ performs regularly with other seasoned improv groups on stages across Chicago. Dave Pasquesi has performed in dramatic plays (Glengarry Glen Ross, God of Carnage), appeared on television (Strangers With Candy, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Veep) and in movies, and is also a voiceover actor. As a duo, they have performed together for over a decade. TJ & Dave perform regularly at the iO Theater on Wednesday nights. They also perform multiple times during the year in New York City, at the Barrow Street Theatre.
TJ & Dave create one-act plays through the art of slow comedy, taking time to develop characters and relationships, and discover situations together. They don’t go for the easy laugh. As a result, the comedy that emerges from their patience is moving, grounded, and honest. The Magnet’s own Matt Shafeek wrote this Splitsider article on TJ & Dave and the power of slow comedy:
TJ & Dave can often go long stretches of time without any big laughs, and this is where a lot of weaker improvisers often falter. A performer who fears he or she has lost the audience will panic and will resort to time-honored gimmicks – exaggerated physicality, ridiculous characters, and of course, going ‘blue’ (making a lewd/sexual reference or choice) in a desperate attempt to end the audience’s silence. But TJ & Dave, as well as Louis CK, know that patience in comedy can lead to much bigger rewards.
The mainstream world has caught onto the awesomeness that is TJ & Dave. A rave review in the theater section of the New York Times, written last year by accomplished composer and lyricist David Yazbek, has skyrocketed the popularity of their New York City appearances. Tickets are often sold out well before the beginning of each run. A Radiolab podcast feature earlier this year introduced TJ & Dave to hip intelligentsia who might not otherwise be interested in the improv comedy scene.
Psyched to check out a TJ & Dave show? You’re in luck! They will be performing in New York City at Town Hall this Friday, October 11th, at 8pm. This performance is extra-special for a lot of reasons. For the first time in New York, TJ & Dave will be performing with Chicago musician, Ike Reilly, in a joint appearance. If you’ve ever been to a TJ & Dave show, you’ve heard Ike Reilly’s songs at the beginning and end of the show. Their NY anthem is Commie Drives A Nova. This is also the first time that TJ & Dave will be performing at Town Hall, a venue that seats over 1000 people. This is the largest venue they have ever played in New York City, and possibly anywhere else. This show is one night only! TJ & Dave would love to see the NYC improv community in the audience, so please come and support!
Full price tickets are $42, but follow the instructions for various options below to get them for $27. The asterisks indicate preferred options, to avoid service fees:
For all options, use the code BST. You will need to tell the box office the code in order to get the discounted $27 tickets.
1) Show up in person at TOWN HALL BOX OFFICE*
(no service fees)
123 West 43rd Street, NY
12pm – 6pm, M-SAT
2) In Person: LIMITED tix available at BARROW STREET THEATRE BOX OFFICE*
(no service fees, CASH ONLY)
27 Barrow Street, on the corner of 7th Ave.
Open at 1pm Daily
3) Online: At ticketmaster.com with code BST
(service fees will apply)
Still unconvinced? Let’s go down the TJ & Dave rabbit hole, shall we?
In 2009, Alex Karpovsky made Trust Us, This Is All Made Up, a documentary about TJ & Dave, which includes an entire show that was recorded at the Barrow Street Theatre. It had its world premiere at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival. The DVD is available for purchase. Check it out!
Pam Victor shares her interviews with the country’s improv greats on her blog series, Geeking Out With …. She interviewed TJ and David extensively. All three are in the process of co-writing a book on improv. Stay tuned!
Jimmy Carrane, veteran Chicago improviser and co-author of the book, Improvising Better: A Guide to the Working Improviser, interviewed TJ and David for his Improv Nerd podcast.
What are you waiting for? Go buy your discounted tickets now. See you at Town Hall on Friday!
The Magnet is thrilled to announce our new Musical Megawatt lineup! Come by this Tuesday when all six teams will perform to kick off the new season!
New Team Chunky
New Team Smooth
Jason Scott Quinn
We’re pleased to announce the teams for the Fall 2013 round of The Circuit. In addition to the three teams below, a Musical Circuit team will be announced the first week of October. The teams are:
Coach: Jesse Acini
Coach: Amie Roe
Coach: Mike Dwyer
The first show will be Friday, October 4th at 10PM, and shows will be every Friday, through November 22nd. All shows are at the Magnet Studio Theater (259 W 30th St., 2nd Floor). The support of the entire Magnet community is what makes The Circuit possible, so please come out and support these new teams!
This coming Saturday (September 29th) will mark the 100th session since instructor Sean Taylor began the Magnet Saturday Drop-In. We caught up with him for a short Q & A to find out more about what the drop-in is!
Magnet Theater Blog (MTB): What is the Magnet Saturday Drop-In?
Sean Taylor (ST): Every Saturday, one of The Magnet’s top house performers hosts a $10 two hour drop-in improv comedy workshop on a topic of his or her choice. Workshops have ranged in everything from traditional scene and character work to abstract group games.
MTB: Is the Drop-In for anyone?
ST: Although we won’t turn anyone away, improvisors with at least a level one (or equivalent) experience will gain the most from it. Whether you are looking to play with new improvisors, get some reps in between classes or just brush up on your fundamentals, the Saturday Drop-In is the perfect place to be. It’s also a great way to kick the weekend off right.
MTB: How does the class run? Is there a structure to the Drop-In class??
ST: The workshops vary each week based on who is instructing but, in general, the session begins with a warm-up period, then a scene exercise or two, and typically concludes with a longform montage.
MTB: So, you instruct most of the sessions- what happens when you’re not there?
ST: You will always be in good hands at the Saturday Drop-In. Veteran performers and instructors including my Junior Varsity compatriot Jamie Rivera, Friday Night Show’s Frank Bonomo, Hello Laser’s Dave Warth, Horses’ Kelly Buttermore, and Chet Watkins’ Karsten Cross have all had a hand in the first hundred sessions.
MTB: How can I find out when the next session is being held?
ST: All upcoming sessions are listed on our website under the Saturday Drop-In. With few exceptions for major holidays, it’s every Saturday from 1-3pm at the Magnet Theater (as opposed to the Training Center). You can also be added to a mailing list by attending any Drop-In in person or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
MTB: Anything else you want to say?
ST: At the Saturday Drop-In, we put the “fun” in improv fundamentals!
The Magnet Theater Touring Company is about to be put to the test. In the next few weeks NBC will be running Live Improvised Lexus commercials. According to Splitsider, “In the final commercial break of the show, they will perform an improvised commercial based on the suggestions from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.” Keep your eyes out for these commercials, they’re live and totally improvised. Well done NBC!
Congratulations to the new Magnet Sketch Teams! Thank you to all those who applied, we’re excited to introduce these incredible teams! The first show is Sunday, September 29th at 9:00! Starting in October, Sketch Shows will run at 7:30 PM on Sundays. See you there!
VETERAN TEAM FRED
1. Joe Lepore
2. Adam Twitchell
3. Rob Webber
4. Kate Emswiler
5. Matt Wassung
6. Ruby Marez
7. Alex Marino
8. Joe Miles
VETERAN TEAM SHAGGY
1. Jimmy O’Connell
2. Billy Bob Thompson
3. Todd Shaeffer
4. Sebastian Conelli
5. Becca Schall
6. Ingrid Ostby
7. Andy Mills
8. Jamaal Sedayao
1. Nivea Serrao
2. Megan Meadows
3. Andy Moskowitz
4. Jon Moisan
5. Ally Kornfeld
6. David Rynn
7. Bob Kern
8. Gretchen Poole
9. Matt Antonucci
1. Kevin Lalka
2. Gwen Mesco
3. Matt Alston
4. John Kitsis
5. David Sewell
6. Sean Taylor
7. Shalini Tripathi
8. Emily Johnson
9. Marcus Brunt
1. Marc Baller
2. Lane Kwederis
3. Mike Dwyer
4. Ari Miller
5. Matt Alspaugh
6. Jonathan Keller
7. Michael McLarnon
8. Matthew Pohlman Coonrod
9. Catherine Wing
Auditions for Musical Megawatt teams will be held Saturday, September 28th, with callbacks on Sunday, September 29th. Musical Megawatt Teams are Magnet Theater’s House Musical Improv Teams. To be eligible, students need to have completed up to Musical Improv Level 3. To apply, please follow THIS LINK and fill out the form by September 16th. Confirmations will be sent out on September 17th. Break legs, everyone!
We are now accepting applications for The Fall 2013 Circuit! Circuit Teams are made up of Magnet Theater students, graduates of our Training program and veteran performers. We believe that in order to get better at improv, you need to do it.
The deadline to apply is September 18th. Teams will be announced September 23rd. Shows will begin October 4th. Teams will alternate weeks through November 22nd. If you have any questions email Circuit@Magnettheater.com.
To Sign up, just click this link to fill out the form!
The Magnet Q & A Series is HERE!
This podcast is devoted to delving into different improv techniques, and finding out what makes comedy hearts tick. We’ve had the honor of interviewing improv teachers and performers from all over the country. This episode, Louis Kornfeld interviews improv master Craig Cackowski about Chicago improv, investing in characters and gifting scene partners. This Q & A was recorded live at The Magnet Theater in NYC in Spring of 2013.
This podcast is hosted and produced by Nolan Constantino and Adam Hawkins. Podcast music by Giancarlo Sutton.
Thank you to everyone who applied and auditioned for Megawatt. We’re honored to announce our fall line up:
New Team PAISLEY
There will also be additions to The Wrath, Featherweight, Brick, The Music Industry and Chet Watkins
Andrew Yurman Glaser
Lauren Ashley Smith
The Music Industry
Along with returning groups Horses, All American and Call Tokyo.