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

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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Tuesday June 3, 2014, 8:47am - by Magnet Theater

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Magnet performer, Alexis Lambright (The Wrath) is heading to The Hollywood Fringe Festival this week to perform her one woman show, “The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity”.  In the show, Alexis is on a mission to find a cure for individuals suffering from Chronic Virginity… starting with herself.  Through stories, songs, and videos, this live telethon will present awkward moments from her life, in hopes of achieving her goal. If you’re planning on checking out Alexis’ shows, look no further than RIGHT HERE!  Congrats Alexis!

Thursday May 29, 2014, 12:56pm - by Magnet Theater

Guest host Rick Andrews interviews Greg Hess of The Improvised Shakespeare Company!

Greg Hess is an actor, writer and comedian in Los Angeles. He is an improviser with The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Cook Country Social Club and performs at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade in LA.

 

Wednesday May 28, 2014, 3:27pm - by Magnet Theater


MVL_Graphic_Round2Show
Magnet Video Lab premieres its new hand-made comedy shorts featuring some of your favorite performers from the improv, stand-up, sketch and TV world. Join them afterward for a post-premiere party at Walter’s Bar! FREE on Sunday, June 1 at 6:00. 
Click HERE to Reserve Tickets.

Tuesday April 29, 2014, 12:05pm - by Magnet Theater
ten bucks

ten bucks

Starting in May, The Magnet Theater is going to raise the price of Thursday Night Out to $10. That price will still allow audience members to stay all night. If someone is coming strictly for Inspirado, the price will remain $7.  We’re incredibly proud of the work being done on this night and feel confident in showcasing it as some of the best work we have to offer.  Magnet students and performers will still be able to get into the show for free.

 

Tuesday April 22, 2014, 11:17am - by Magnet Theater
The Second City

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The Magnet Theater will be holding a Q&A session with Second City Casting Director Beth Kligerman, Wednesday April 23rd from 5:30pm-6:30pm at The Magnet Theater Training Center (259 w. 30th street).  This will be an hour long information session about auditioning for the Second City Cruise Ships.  If you have any questions, please contact Magnet Artistic Director Megan Gray (megan (at)magnettheater(dot)com).

Monday April 21, 2014, 8:11am - by Magnet Theater

Magnet Theater is excited to announce The Magnet Podcast! In Episode 1: Host Louis Kornfeld interviews Magnet Theater founders Ed Herbstman, Alex Marino and Armando Diaz about their past, present and future.  They chat about their Chicago beginnings, the creation of The Armando Diaz Experience and the process of starting The Magnet Theater.  Ed tries to explain why he became a cop while Armando makes fun of him.  Don’t miss it.

Huge thanks to our wonderfully talented podcast engineer, Grant Goldberg.

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.

large_babyshoesensemble

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

Monday April 7, 2014, 11:23am - by Magnet Theater

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Second City Theatricals is seeking actors for ensembles on Norwegian Cruise Line ships.

A ship specific audition will be held at the Magnet Training Center in New York City on Thursday, April 24, 2014.  Auditions will be completely improvised. Performers should be a graduate of a conservatory-level program (such as: Peoples Improv Theater, Upright Citizens Brigade, or Magnet).
Interested actor/improvisers should email a head shot and resume to: auditions@secondcity.com ON Monday, April 14/Tuesday, April 15.   Please include  ‘Second City Theatricals – NYC – April 24′  in the subject line of the email. Performers not following these guidelines may not be considered for a an audition time.  Slots will be filled in order of receipt.
Call backs will be held Friday, April 25 – TBD exact time.  Second City Theatricals ensemble members – work for 4 months at a time at sea.  There will be a ship specific Q&A held on Wednesday, April 23 at Magnet (more details to come).
The Second City was founded in 1959 as a hub for sketch and improvisational comedy., and has held a contract with Norwegian Cruise Line since 2005
Friday April 4, 2014, 8:26am - by Amanda Ariel Peggy Xeller

Fort Tilden 3


The South By Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) is an annual film festival that not only premiers feature films, like Bridesmaids back in 2011, but presents new work by indie directors. Each film entered is up to be considered for the Grand Jury Prize, which is a special award given in two categories: Best Narrative and Best Documentary. Think of it as the equivalent to Best Picture for the Oscars. This year, the Magnet’s own Charles Rogers (The Music Industry, Prank Phone Calls with Charles Rogers) won the coveted award for Best Narrative Feature for his film Fort Tilden. (Past winners in this category include Lena Dunham for her film Tiny Furniture back in 2010). I (Amanda Ariel Peggy Xeller!) got the awesome opportunity to sit down with the esteemed director, and fellow performer, to talk about the movie and also about him!

 

Where are you from originally?

Well I grew up in a lot of places, but I grew up mostly on the border of Texas and Mexico at the very bottom. It’s called Brownsville, which is a weird, dysfunctional place. And also in Acapulco, Mexico. But I say I’m from Austin, Texas because I went to college there and my family moved there recently.

 

Where did you go to college?

I went to college at St. Edwards University in Austin. It’s a liberal arts school that’s fun to be young at.
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