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

Wednesday March 23, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Devin O'Neill Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Get ready, because heartthrob DEVIN O’NEILL joins us to talk about her lifelong pursuit of comedy, performing for children, and how following your feet is the best! From The Cast to Sketch Teams to Megawatt and INSPIRADO, hear about Devin’s many comedic ventures and how she most prefers to approach scenework. Plus, a cameo from Ed Herbstman and Louis being an old man!

Louis begins this episode pointing out how nervous Devin seems to be. What’s she got to be nervous about? It’s just a podcast! All kidding aside, she quickly masters her fear in time for Louis to ask her about her favorite quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” On her way to discussing imaginary friends, Devin manages to insult Louis’ age and it’s good fun for all. Laughing off his obviously hurt feelings, Louis wants to talk about Florida, which is where Devin is from originally. She tells us of this odd and, at times, amazing state and then claims that she’s wanted to be a performer and comedian since she was three year old! Wow. And the best part? It’s true!

Devin has been performing for as long as she can remember and, in adulthood, spent time acting in a children’s theater company which toured throughout Florida. All this before she moved to NYC to do improv and create funny characters. She got into improv thanks to her friend and Magnet House Manager, Bimini Lee Wright, after watching a UCB class show and then seeing *Kiss Punch Poem*. Sorry, 101 class, but Devin ended up taking classes at Magnet. Circling back to children’s theater, Devin and Louis discuss why playing for children is both incredibly difficult and totally amazing. They answer the question we ask in retrospect: How does an improv audience compare to a room full of unabashedly honest children? Plus, Louis provides a theory as to why improv is populated by such a bunch of smarties.

Back to the present, yes? Devin came to New York to to pursue comedy, something which stemmed from her work in Commedia dell’Arte. She tells of about all the different shows she does, plus(!), she’s got a full-time job. Needless-to-say, she has a lot to balance day-to-day and being on stage allows her a central focus compared to the scatterbrain nature of daily life. She and Louis ponder advice for enjoying second beats and talk about innovative thinking versus adaptive thinking, or initiating versus responding, if you prefer. She advocates adding a feeling of inclusiveness to how you begin a scene, no matter what kind of initiation you provide, and as promised in the lead, they talk about their feet knowing better than their minds!

To wrap things up, Louis and Devin wax poetic on The Cast, which for the record, Louis thinks is better than 98 Degrees. Devin tells us how crazy fun the show is and gives a lot of well-deserved credit to their director, Hannah Chase. Plus, Ed Herbstman makes a cameo and Devin talks about being friends with the one and only Justin Torres!!

Tuesday March 22, 2016, 4:36pm - by Magnet Theater

NYTVF 2016

Submit to the world’s top independent TV festival!

NYTVF’s 12th Annual Independent Pilot Competition is now accepting original TV, web and digital series pilots, 4-60 minutes in ALL genres.

The NYTVF is like no other Festival in the world: offering indie creators year-round opportunities to submit, providing unprecedented access to TV and digital buyers and decision-makers, and awarding GUARANTEED development opportunities with networks and platforms including Bento Box Entertainment, Comedy Central, IFC, Seeso, truTV, and many more!

View all the awards and deals here:

In 2015 alone, the Festival facilitated 400+ meetings between creators and Festival Partners and awarded 20+ development opportunities. With over 115,000 attendees over the festival’s 12 years, the NYTVF has become the premier destination for indie creators. 2016 Official Artists will join a community of thousands of successful NYTVF alumni. Don’t miss your chance to get into network and digital development and participate as an Official Artist at the 12th Annual NYTVF in October.

Early Deadline: Submit by Monday, May 16, 2016, and receive a discounted entry fee ($30).
Regular Deadline: Wednesday, June 15th ($50).
Final Deadline: Thursday, June 30th ($100).

Submit today for discounted entry:

Monday March 21, 2016, 10:00am - by Magnet Theater

Magnet TC Logo v3

We’re looking for eager improvisers (prerequisite: completion of Level 1) to participate in warm-ups and exercises run by the students in Armando’s coaching class. All the details are below—but keep in mind that space is limited. Hope to see you there!

When to be available: Sunday, April 3rd — May 8th from 3:00-6:00pm

How to sign up: Simply send an email to schooldirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line: “COACHING CLASS VOLUNTEER.” Please include your full name and phone number.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at (212) 244-2400.

Wednesday March 16, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Geri Cole Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

The Cast member and hilarious human, GERI COLE, joins the show to talk about travel, her utopian hometown, and how to bring more voices to the comedy table. Geri spends her weekdays working on Sesame Street and her weekends creating one-of-a-kind improv shows with The Cast, so we’re thrilled that she’s taken some time to talk to us about true wealth, her time in Barcelona, and what she loves about her sweet, sweet hubby! Listen in, kiddos.

We gave it away in the intro, but the first thing Geri and Louis discuss on this episode is travel _ specifically about how Geri loves to do it despite the fact that it gives her terrible anxiety. Louis can’t pick up and go nearly as easily as Geri can, so asks about the psychology behind having a travel bug. One thing that helps Geri overcome her anxiety and see new places is her love of observing people. She talks about being very generous with her attention and the act of people watching. She then tells of her moving to Barcelona for a year and how her “naive by nature” personality led her to NYC.

Enough about all the cool places Geri has lived, let’s talk about where she’s from! Geri grew up in Columbia, Maryland, which is a planned community designed to be a utopian town prioritizing racial and economic integration. No joke! Hear her talk about this fascinating and truly inspiring place. This leads into an exploration of the idea of true wealth and what makes a person truly rich. Geri makes up some statistics and, spoiler alert, money isn’t the (only) answer! Louis also asks, can you be “good” at having money? Fascinating!!!

These days, Geri works at Sesame Street (along with a number of other Magnet students and performer) and it’s been her street away from home for seven years now! That fun fact aside, Louis transitions to what he deems the heavy and controversial part of our podcast. He wants to know how we can bring more voices to the comedy table. He also asks, how are we contributing to good in the world and not just adding more crap? Geri attempts to answer these absolutely massive questions from Louis and provides us with some insight into how we might do it. They wonder, is there any real science behind what they’re saying? If you’re a scientist, let us know!

Then, out of nowhere, Louis pivots to talk about The Cast! Geri claims the show is so good because they’re having a friggin’ blast up there. Color us convinced! Louis tells Geri what his students say about the show and she admits that what she loves most is how they fearlessly cram for shows.

Lastly, and certainly not leastly, Louis makes Geri list three things she loves about her husband, Andy Mills. Tune in!

Monday March 14, 2016, 2:58pm - by Megan Gray

large_megawatt  large_megawatt

The Magnet Theater is pleased to announce the new teams and additions for the Spring 2016 season of Megawatt, debuting this Wednesday, March 16th at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10:15pm. We hope to see you there.

New Team TROY
Katy Berry
Christina Dabney
Jonathan DeMuth
Tim Dufrisne
Will Jacobs
Eleanor Lewis
Fred Urfer
Derrence Washington

James Bruffee
Will Cooper
Howard Finkelstein
Lev Gartman
Kyle Gordon
Julia Meinwald
Katie Mordhorst
Abby Russell

Collin Batten
Carolyn Burns
Ben Koch
James Kuo
Erin Nebel
Ingrid Ostby
Rich Rosario
Gregg Zehentner

Evan Barden
Nikita Burdein
Alan Fessenden
Kristina Grosspietsch
Charlie Nicholson
Lizzie Redner
Amie Roe
Don Romaniello


Wednesday March 9, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Nikita Burdein Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Singing, improvising, and teaching fool, NIKITA BURDEIN, joins us to talk about emigrating from Soviet Russia, discovering improv in NYC, and how to approach auditions. Amidst all of that, he and host Louis Kornfeld discuss religion, what makes theater so special, and finding comfort in declaring who you are. Recorded yesterday, released today – this is a fresh, hot ‘cast!!!

First thing’s first: Louis wants to know how the incredibly busy Nikita Burdein is able to do everything he does! Nikita performs Tuesday through Friday at Magnet and spends many other days coaching, teaching, practicing, or playing elsewhere. We got tired just writing that! [See him on Musical Megawatt, Megawatt, The Directors Series (April & May), and Premiere.] Given his jigsaw puzzle schedule, Louis wonders if Nikita is a very disciplined person. Well, he was born in Soviet Russia, a fact which might give you a hint.

Nikita and his family came to America (Chicago) when he was four years old with the help of the Jewish Federation by way of Italy. It’s a very fun story, so we do hope you listen. He tells us how his immigrant background influences his improv and Louis suggests that his own brain is beginning to fail him. The two discuss puberty hair before seamlessly segueing into a discussion on Judaism. Though culturally and ethnically Jewish, Nikita was raised a devout Atheist who eventually went on Birthright at the age of 26. Louis shares with us his frustrating feelings regarding Israel and they both try to figure out what the connection is between Jews and their prominence on Broadway.

Having spent time exploring how Nikita arrived in this country, Louis asks about his journey from Chicago to New York. Nikita talks about getting into theater during high school because of his brother and getting into film in college, again, because of his brother. He went to NYU and graduated an editor, which is something he still does to this day. Along the way, Nikita finally began improvising at the age of 28 and totally fell in love with it. He and Louis chat about the connection with the audience that live theater provides and how improv has a built-in benefit of knowing that the people out there with you love what they do. There’s a lot of love going around the improv community, Nikita reports. Though very active and quite visible as an improviser today, Nikita says he was in the closet about being an improviser initially. On a related note, Louis asks Nikita how much energy he gives to other people’s thoughts of him, which morphs into a discussion about coming out and sexuality. Nikita came out to his parents at age 23 and tells us that it made him a more honest person all around. And he hasn’t looked back since!

Louis takes the opportunity, with both Megawatt and Musical Megawatt auditions right around the corner, to discuss auditioning and to ask Nikita for advice on the matter. He also asks Nikita about the end of his run with Deep Queens on Megawatt and the somewhat recent start of his time teaching Musical Improv Level 1 at the Training Center. Has he discovered anything since he began teaching? You betcha. But you’ll have to listen to the episode to find out. (And no skipping to the end!)

Tuesday March 8, 2016, 2:00pm - by Magnet Theater

Manhattan Skyline

The Magnet is thrilled to announce a new show coming on April, 18th – Ringers! Ringers is a sketch show for aspiring, eager, and ambitious writers, actors, and directors of the Magnet community – and we want you to be a part of it!

Below please see the details to apply:

Ringers is seeking sketches for the stage to showcase in its upcoming shows. To have your sketch considered, prior or current participation in Magnet’s Sketch Writing program, Lady Sketch Lab, or Magnet Video Lab is required.

To apply, please e-mail your name, your writing experience, and a finished, polished sketch to ringers@magnettheater.com. The sketches you submit should require little to no tech.

Ringers is seeking actors to star in its sketches. To be considered as an actor, you must have completed at least Level 4 of Magnet’s Improv Curriculum or Level 2 of the Musical Program.

To apply to be an actor for an upcoming show, please fill out the following form:


Ringers is seeking directors to direct sketches. To be considered as a director, you must have Big Sib’ed a Sketch Level 2 class or have been on a Magnet Sketch Team.

To apply to be a director for a sketch in an upcoming show, please fill out the following form:



**The deadline to be considered for the April show is Wednesday, March 16th.**

To participate in the April show, you must be able to commit to:

– Attending the table read on Friday, April 1st from 6:30 – 8:30pm.
– Attending the rehearsal(s) (1 to 2 max) for the sketch you’re involved with. Rehearsals will be at the Magnet Training Center and will take place during off hours – 6:00 – 7:00pm/10:00 – 11:00pm on a weekday.
– The show on Monday, April 18th at 9:00pm.

This is an ongoing application so please continue to submit your interest and your sketches to be considered for future shows.

For all questions please e-mail Armando Diaz and Amanda Xeller at ringers@magnettheater.com. We look forward to working with you!

Tuesday March 8, 2016, 10:00am - by Magnet Theater

Musical Megawatt - Musical Improv

Announcing Musical Megawatt Auditions

We are excited to announce that auditions for the next season of Musical Megawatt will be held the first weekend in April!

The first round of auditions will take place on Saturday, April 2nd, from 6:30 to 10:30pm, with callbacks on Sunday the 3rd at the same time. Auditions will be held at the Magnet Training Center.

To schedule an audition time, fill out the form HERE!

We will do our best to accommodate everyone’s schedules, but please understand that we can’t guarantee anyone a particular audition time. 

Submissions must be received by Wednesday, March 23d, and emails with assigned audition times will be sent out on Friday the 25th.

Please note that only people who have completed Musical Level 3 at the Magnet are eligible to submit.

We look forward to seeing you at auditions!

Wednesday March 2, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Andy Moskowitz on the Magnet Theater Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Ariana Grande’s BFFL, ANDY MOSKOWITZ, is on the podcast talking substance abuse, vulnerability, and of course, Mother’s Day. Andy talks about getting his improv start in Philly doing ComedySportz and shares with us his Behind The Music moment. Plus, he and Louis try to write a joke together! Tune in for a whale of a good time.

In seven short years, Andy Moskowitz has gone from his first improv class in Philadelphia to working on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in New York City. CLICK TO READ MORE…

Wednesday February 24, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Ed Herbstman Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Magnet founding father and sometime Mantzoukas brother, ED HERBSTMAN, talks with us about his Chicago days, moving to LA, and what makes improv satisfying. Ed was on his first team at iO Chicago by age 17 and by the time he and his friends moved to LA, they were attracting industry attention. If this sounds like a fantasy world t0 you modern improvisers, Ed and Louis will make it reality. Also, tune in to hear how love landed him in NYC and what it’s like to play with famous people.

This episode begins with one of the toughest choices Ed Herbstman has ever had to make…