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

Magnet Theater Blog

Thursday April 6, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

 

What’s your name?

Erin Marie Nebel

Which team or show are you on?

Tallulah

Where are you from?

Dubuque, IA

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I was working a quintessential NYC job with an unreasonable boss (i.e. Devil Wears Prada) and I needed something outside of work, sleeping, and crying in Battery Park on my lunch break. I wanted to return to my first love- acting, but I knew I didn’t have time to read plays, memorize scenes, rehearse, etc. So I thought, improv… you just show up right? I took a free intro class with Rick Andrews and laughed so hard that I used a computer in the Magnet office to sign up for a level one starting the next day – I haven’t left since.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I have been doing improv for 3.5 years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Sir Ian McKellen or Lucille Ball

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Lucille Ball / Zelda Fitzgerald / Annie Oakley / Slyvia Plath / Mary Wollstonecraft / Marilyn Monroe

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Animals

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

An original collaboration between John Williams, Bon Iver, Alabama Shakes, Florence Welch, James Vincent McMorrow, and Sia.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Did you know that studies show the greatest predictor of sexual satisfaction in a heterosexual marriage is the amount of male participation in domestic chores and that higher male involvement in traditionally female designated chores is more strongly correlated with greater reported sexual satisfaction?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

These days, watching The Great British Bakeoff. Other possibilities include volunteering as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault/domestic violence, working on a NYTimes crossword, or watching videos on youtube of unlikely animal friendships recent favorites include: wolves and bears, pigs and tigers, and hedgehogs and dogs.

What is your favorite movie quote? 

“You’re killing me, Smalls!”  – The Sandlot

 

Wednesday April 5, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Perennial Magnet all-star, CHRISTIAN PALUCK, stops by to talk about his journey in comedy, being a more open person, and why he recently started drawing. From Emerson, to LA, to NYC, Christian brings a crapload of experience to the stage and insight to this episode. He and Louis dig into some great topics and, honestly, you’re gonna friggin’ love it. Huzzah!

After butchering the pronunciation of Christian’s last name, Louis wonders why we often freeze up when on the mic we are able to perform live in front of hundreds of people effortlessly. They explore this common occurrence and Christian explains why he doesn’t like anything that focuses on expectations. Louis asks Christian what he was doing before he got into improv and Christian tells of going to Emerson College for television production and then ending up in LA. He was introduced to formal improv by his college friend Anthony Atamanuik and eventually moved to NYC to take classes at Gotham City Improv and UCB. He tells of being challenged by a particular UCB class and then pausing from improv to go into stand-up. Eventually, he came back to improv after finding Armando Diaz’s “Instant Brilliance” class and he’s been at Magnet ever since.

Going from one journey to another, Louis asks Christian about being a father. How has having a kid changed how Christian manages embarrassment? He talks about quitting his day job to pursue acting full-time when he had a kid so that he could show his son that you have to follow your gut and fight for what you love. I mean, holy shit, right? This is great podcasting. Louis and Christian explore the overwhelming feeling that bubbles up when you can’t solve a major life problem and Christian talks about being a more open person and how improv can help you tap into that.

When coaching improv, Christian likes to focus on the balance between an improviser’s desire to act on instinct versus being polite, all while not being a jerk to your teammates. Our two heroes talk about how improv attracts a lot of smart people who maybe procrastinate too much and Christian wonders, “Why do billionaires worry about traffic?” They also discuss how Christian is perceived as a quiet, perhaps intimidating guy, though we all know he’s a big softy. Speaking of! Louis asks Christian about the drawings that he’s been working on! To round out the episode they ask the hard-hitting questions: What’s actually important to me? What do I really think is fucked up? And, am I brave enough to be judged for it? Good stuff, gents.

Monday April 3, 2017, 11:38am - by Megan Gray
Musical Megawatt - Musical Improv

We are thrilled to announce the newest additions to our Musical Megawatt lineup! Catch these new teams in action this Tuesday, April 4th at 7, 8, 9 and 10pm.

New Team Crosby
Russ Feder
Brendan Goggins
Margaret Lyons
Adam Payne
Jackie Skinner
Justin Torres
Catherine Wing

New Team Stills
Chris Bell
Jessica Coyle
Amanda Mayer
Garett Press
Melanie Rubin
Cian Smith
Steve Whyte

New Team Nash
Lorraine Cink
Jennette Cronk
Eitan Levine
Maryann Menzies
Charlie Nicholson
Ali Reed
Brian Rodriguez

New Team Young
Samara Breger
Tim Canty
Keilana Decker
Dan Iwrey
Jayme Mattler
Billy Soco
Curry Whitmire

Wednesday March 29, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

The messed-up, sick, twisted teens of My Dark Little Corner take over the Magnet Theater Podcast to answer questions from their fans and tell the world to go screw. Listen to this episode if you hate the establishment and want to discover band secrets like who’s the oldest member or why Kyle got in trouble at school. Go see them live in concert this Friday (3/31) at 11:30 pm in The My Dark Little Corner Show: Episode 1 – Dr. Stredain Chaperones!

Monday March 27, 2017, 11:59am - by Magnet Theater

At the February edition of The Griot Show, hosted by Alexis Lambright, Dahlia Ramsay told a wonderful story about a late-night Halal cart run, white allyship, and how improv lessons can be translated to real life. That story is transcribed below. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Dahlia Ramsay from The Griot Show – February 13, 2017

So anywho, Imma tell you about my Friday night, last night. Cool? Awesome. So, I went out last Friday night and I stayed out way too late. Way later than I thought I would. And I knew it was gonna be some bullshit to get home. If anyone went out last Friday night you know that the trains were all messed up. So I said, “Let me get some halal first, for the ride.”

So, I go up to the halal cart. It’s the one on 1st and 1st in the East Village. And I go up to the halal cart, and I give the dude my order. And he’s a very nice man. Really clean cart. I definitely recommend it. The two other dudes there, these two Black dudes that were there. And we’re making small talk, and they’re trying to holler, and they’re lovely. And we’re just chatting all four of us. And then so after not too long, these three other girls walk up. These three Latin girls. And they are DRUNK. And hilarious, and adorable. And they’re up from Miami visiting. And the Black dudes, one was from New York, and one was from Houston. So we’re all just chatting. And they’re all drunk. I’m the only sober one. And we’re being ridiculous and bullshitting, and being loud, and the Halal guy is laughing.

And finally the dude from Houston asks the girls, “So where are you ladies from?” and one of them goes
“Nicaragua” (strong Spanish accent).
And he’s like “What?”
“NI-CA-RA-GUA! Say it!” She’s getting like… “Say my country!” [Laughter]
And he’s messing up, can’t say it. And she says “It’s in Latin America. Trump hates us too! Trump hates me!”
And the Black dude from New York is like “Nah nah nah nah nah, Trump hates ME. He hates us, alright? He been hating Black people. This Mexican thing is some new shit.”

And so, the conversation turns from like, bullshitting about bullshit, to bullshitting about politics. And finally after these people arguing about which group of people Trump hates more, the halal guy goes “Ah-hem,” clears throat, and points finger in the air, “Uh yea…I think I have you guys beat.”

And I fell out. I was laughing, I was dying, I was embarrassed. I was the only person there kinda outside seeing this go down and didn’t even occur to me either how ridiculous it was that we were arguing about this while homie was making our food, right there. So it got me thinking about The Griot Show, and solidarity more specifically, and allyship. And what that means.

‘Tis the season that we are honoring Black lives past and present. And honoring their stories, and complexities, and truths. And it occurred to me a while back, and it seemed appropriate for tonight, that there is a strand of stories that we don’t hear about. And I’m not talking about the Ida B. Wells or that one lady on the flyer for The Griot Show, where I was like “I don’t know who that is!” I’m talking about allies. White allies specifically. People of privilege. And how allies can become accomplices. And what that means and what that looks like.

I’m a pretty well-educated person. And here’s a bit of trivia. Can anyone name a white ally from the civil rights movement? Yes? One? Can we see if a non-host knows? You?
Audience: Bernie Sanders!
A: Shush! Is that what you were going to say?
A: Harriet Beecher Stowe?

Ohhhhh, no okay okay. History break, you guys. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. So that was further back. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Alright, I give this tour on NYC gospel, I’m a tour guide, so we could go into that because she’s a very interesting lady, and her whole family. But anyway Bernie Sanders is a good one. Anyone else? What were you going to say?
A: I was gonna say the two guys who were killed… James? Morgan?

Okay, see my point? Thank you. So we don’t know. And that I think is a detriment. It’s a detriment to the Civil Rights movement, it’s a detriment to all current movements now, particularly a detriment to any person of privilege or a white person who has no historical models for what allyship and solidarity looks like.

So, in this post-Barack Shock, that we’re living in. What does this all look like? And before I begin to attempt to answer that question, there’s a few things you should know about me. 1. I am currently in grad school in a program called Applied Theatre. And there’s a whole ‘nother story about what that is. [Applause] That means something!? Applied Theatre means something?? Oh my gosh. That’s good for me. I might get a job. And we’re reading–there’s a whole lot of reading in grad school–and the book we’re currently reading now is Theatre of the Oppressed, and it’s based on a book called Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In T.O.T.O. Augusto Boal says that participatory theatre in and of itself is not revolutionary, but it is rehearsal for the revolution.

Another thing you should know about me is I’ve been doing improv here at the Magnet community that I love so much for about three years. The Magnet is my valentine officially. I’ve never felt unsafe. It’s always been a very safe space for me. But I’ve been more concerned lately with how we can take our safe spaces and turn them into brave spaces. Turn them out, into brave spaces. More specifically, how we can use these muscles and reflexes that we spend hours honing and exercising that overall support community and having someone’s back and making decisions and having emotions and taking action.

And I know I’m not the first person to take improv principles and apply them to life. But I thought it would be worth–and I’m asking myself, and I’m asking you–how we can translate some of these action principles that we’ve learned in our classes to help guide us in moments when we are called to action. And obviously, that’s not always foolproof. We’ll mess up, like we do in scenes. Some of us know. But I made a little chart. Is it okay if I fuck around with a chart? Cool. So this is an infinite list of improv principles. The list isn’t infinite, but it goes on. And you can do this for yourself. So this is an exercise I did for myself. I’ll say some of these improv principles, and I’ll translate some, and others I won’t. And you can just like infer what that might mean for you. Okay?

– Don’t lean completely on your scene partner.
Translation: Don’t expect people of color or other oppressed people to do all the emotional and intellectual labor for you.
Okay? Okay! We’ll clap. We’ll clap after each one. This is a Louis Kornfeld one.
– It is better to disagree to agree than it is to agree to disagree.
To me what that means is if you just agree to disagree that’s like the most intellectually lazy thing you can do and it’s basically very dismissive. But! If you can disagree in order to agree, in that there is something that you’re moving towards then you’re actually engaging.
– Start in the middle of the scene
Don’t reinvent the wheel. We have a history. We are somewhere in the middle of that arc that supposedly leans towards justice, right? So, know your history. Start in the middle of the scene.
– Group games. If you don’t know a group game is you basically establish a pattern early on, and like a pattern of expectation, but often in a group game, at some point that expectation is broken or subverted.
Translation: Systems of oppression can be broken.
– Beware of ironic indifference and apathy. If you’re an improviser you know this kind of tends to just kill a scene.
Translation: Silence is violence
– A character is someone who’s not you.
I’ll leave that one there.
– Check in with your scene partner at the top of the scene.
– What matters most is how we affect each other.
– Emotion drives the action
– If you’re standing on the sidelines and thinking “Uh, I’m glad I’m not out there”… get out there.

So if you’re someone who hasn’t done improv before but you’re curious about it, this gives you a little insight into what I do and why I love it. And I totally invite you to take the free class that Magnet offers. If you’re a veteran improviser and a person of privilege, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know what to do or how to be in this world these days…” you DO. It just takes a little translation.

Thank you.

Transcribed by Francesca Hays.

Listen here:

Friday March 24, 2017, 1:57pm - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Johnathan Ross

Which team or show are you on?

Youths/The Nitro Girls

Where are you from?

Alabama/Georgia

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

Started improv to improve stand-up skills and then I just never stopped doing it.

How long have you been performing/writing?

2.5 years

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Probably Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or “Key and Peele”

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for?

I’d like to impersonate Obama. And I’d love to write for/with Donald Glover.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Smart dark comedy or straight up dumb dumb simple stuff. Black White Supremacist and Valet Workers are 2 examples.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

It’s mostly Kanye with Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Beyonce, and Solange sprinkled throughout. Kendrick Lamar would get a lot of features and DJ Khaled would probably do all the mixing. Alabama Shakes would make a surprising appearance as would Miley Cyrus.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Did you see/Do you watch [current movie/show I’m obsessed with]. Right now it’d be Mr. Robot or Blair Witch

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

At a movie, at home watching Netflix, out doing Karaoke, in a show, or grabbing drinks with friends.

Wednesday March 22, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Comedian and rapper, KATY BERRY, talks with host Louis Kornfeld about performing with a chip on her shoulder, why Sexy Baby is so damn hot, and her hip-hop improv team, North Coast. They also discuss how their personal lives show up on stage, how Katy found herself doing comedy in NYC, and the importance of being a motherfucking role model. For anyone who hesitates to be themselves and tell the haters to go screw, this episode was made just for you, with love, from KBizzle herself. Do. Your. Thang.

When we asked Katy what she might want to discuss on the show, she said, “Saying ‘fuck the haters’ and slaying all day, every day” which proved to be a wonderful jumping-off point for the episode. We find out what exactly that means to Katy as she and Louis talk about putting the personal and private lives on stage for all to see. Katy feels as though she has something to prove as a performer and that it comes from her childhood, both parts of which we get into. A shock to no one who has seen both of them perform, Louis theorizes that he and Katy may deal with private matters in opposite ways! For Katy, it all ties into her resolve to never back down from being herself.

Katy considers herself very lucky to have been on three incredibly supportive, incredible teams who have all celebrated her approach to improv and allowed her voice to be heard, loudly. She shouts out Cool Blanche before getting into her current teams, Sexy Baby and North Coast. Louis asks Katy about Sexy Baby’s modus operandi and she boldly claims that fart jokes are the birth mother of all comedy. Katy tells us what Sexy Baby tends to focus on in practice and she provides us with a little bit of her own NYC-comedy origin story.

Of course, we can’t hear from Katy Berry and not discuss North Coast, her hip-hop improv team that is about to celebrate their eighth anniversary (this coming Friday)! Katy got onto the team after going to an open audition and tells us why it was not only a match made in Heaven, but maybe even fate. She talks about what goes through her head when doing scenes with North Coast and how the confidence gained doing hip-hop improv slips into her daily life. Katy and Louis both think that people who have never struggled have very little to offer us on stage and Louis has an epiphany on the mic! As a performer, Katy urges everyone to play fearlessly, to lead, and to be a role model when on stage. By simply being yourself, you allow others to be themselves too. Finally, Louis brings to light a very interesting point that we should all be keyed into and we end this episode with some excellent plugs. Want more on Katy? www.katyberrycomedy.com

Monday March 20, 2017, 3:05pm - by Megan Gray

  

The Magnet Theater is pleased to announce the new teams and additions for the Spring 2017 season of Megawatt, debuting this Wednesday, March 22nd, at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and 10:15pm.

And, congratulations to the new additions to Block Party teams, debuting this Thursday, March 23rd, 8pm and 9pm — with The Music Industry moving to Thursdays starting April 6th, 8pm.

We hope to see you everywhere.

Names in bold are new to Megawatt. Names with an asterisk* are returning to Megawatt. Names with a exclamation point! are new to Block Party. Names underlined are joining a preexisting team.

New Team ILIAD
Matt Antonucci*
Ed Cara
Sarah Cassell
Patrick Grizzard
Simon Johnston
Molly Kiernan*
Chloe Metzger
Melanie Rubin

New Team ODYSSEY
Alex Braslavsky
Spencer Campbell
James Coker
Hilary Dale
Michael McLarnon*
Anna Neu*
Sarah Poirier
Billy Soco

CLICK TO READ MORE…

Friday March 17, 2017, 2:55pm - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.


What’s your name?

Paul Ton

Which team or show are you on?

Youths

Where are you from?

I was born in Taiwan. My family moved to Michigan when I was one and then again to New Jersey when I was six. Right now I live in Brooklyn.

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

For one of my friend’s birthdays, we went to a long form show, and it was like watching wizards. It really stuck with me. I must have thought about it for weeks. A couple months later, I got off work early and signed up for a level one with Megan Gray starting later that evening.

How long have you been performing/writing?

That was October 2010, so a little over six years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

I would say Christina Gausas. I was in one of her workshops and she brought out the best in everyone. She’s just so genuine and expressive and positive and supportive and super sharp and an incredible actor. Although if we were to actually do a scene together, I’d probably be too intimidated to move.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly, but the last few times that I’ve laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe, I was watching The Music Industry. Something about how they all double down so freely on the dumbest things.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

The soundtrack would just be one song on repeat, and then every couple weeks a new song would replace it. Right now it’s End Of The Line by Roxy Music. A couple weeks ago it was Ocean Man by Ween. And the one before that was Good Times Roll by The Cars.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

What’s something that made you smile in the past week or something that you’re looking forward to in the coming week?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

At dinner with friends. Catching a show. Hanging out at home.

 

 
 
 
 
Wednesday March 15, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Founding member of The Music Industry, DENNIS PACHECO, talks with host Louis Kornfeld about imposter syndrome, why TMI is so great, and how to turn judgment into love. As a performer on many different shows at the theater, both improv and sketch, but only one, long-lasting, and hilarious Megawatt team, Dennis brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the show. He and Louis dig into some great philosophical topics and tackle practical questions as well. CHECK. IT. OUT.

Our episode begins with Dennis disclosing that his imposter syndrome has him feeling nervous to be on the show. They discuss that feeling of, “Oh, that person probably hates me” and how we most likely overthink how others see us. Louis wonders if he’s being an asshole by not hanging out after shows but both he and Dennis agree that he’s probably not a jerk. Louis thinks of Dennis as a very precise improviser and Dennis shares that others have told him that he appears to improvise as someone who is both calm and nervous at the same time. Louis can relate to feeling that way and, in fact, Dennis admits that he sought to emulate Louis’ playing style when he was starting out. Fun fact: Louis does not recommend Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography!

Dennis and Louis discuss conscious versus unconscious reactions while improvising and Dennis offers some interesting insight from the book “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud. They also talk about stepping in at the right moment to say the perfect thing to bring the house down and, for sketch actors, helpful tips for remembering lines. Finally, they get to talking about Dennis’ long-running Megawatt team, The Music Industry. Dennis tells us why it’s such a killer team to play on and shares his excitement for their upcoming move to Thursday Night Out. He also discusses how they’ve moved from a team dynamic where they had what some might call “frontmen” to a setup now where everyone’s parts on the team feel balanced. He also talks about doing the Spokane and why the form works so well for them. To wrap up the episode, Dennis shares a great way to approach moves you don’t love. Hint: It involves letting go of judgment and transforming it into love. What a beautiful lesson to end on!