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

Posts Tagged ‘acting’

Wednesday October 7, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

TJ Mannix Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Musical improviser, gifted actor, and flat-out handsome man, T.J. MANNIX stops by the podcast to talk about pursuing his dreams in NYC, the craft of acting, and the upcoming New York Musical Improv Festival [NYMIF]. This is our 60th episode and we’re excited to share it with one of Magnet’s beloved instructors and long-time performers. T.J and host, Louis Kornfeld, discuss T.J.’s wide range of experience as an entertainer, everything from DJing for college radio to getting the right take on Law & Order, and of course, Louis opines on NYC’s romantic appeal. Give it a listen, kiddos!

Hear about T.J.’s time spent as a middle-of-the-night college radio DJ and about how Louis didn’t start listening to music until college. Find out what Louis’ first two cassette tapes were and what songs kept T.J. connected to English while studying abroad in Germany. Plus, Louis talks about his years in “local local broadcasting” on Staten Island.

T.J. moved to NYC in 1997 from North Carolina, where he had lived for a few years. He was working for Blockbuster Video and acting on the side, but was finally convinced by visiting actors from New York to give his dream a shot. He subsequently moved to NYC and got a job at the Jekyll & Hyde Club, which he explains was a very different place when he worked there. He talks all about all the fun the staff had and what it was like having it as his first gig in New York. Louis gives his thoughts on surveys, which we know you want to hear.

It’s been about 10 or 11 years now that T.J. has been a performer without a “day job,” so Louis wants to know, “What is it like to be a working actor?” Amongst the advice T.J. bestows, he says you’ve got to “9-to-5 it” because you’re the CEO of your own company. He gets into the life of a working actor and he and Louis end up disucussing NYC neighborhood culture. Next, Louis wants to know, “What’s the strangest job you’ve had in recent memory?” You’ll get to hear all about that, but [spoiler alert] it wasn’t playing Santa Claus at Radio City Music Hall, but he talks about that fun experience as well, even giving away some Rockettes stage secrets.

Without a doubt, T.J. loves the process of acting. He talks about learning on your feet as an actor and tells of his experience working on Law & Order: SVU. He embraces and cherishes the challenge of just about any acting job and recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses in different kinds of actor training. He and Louis talk about small moments on stage and dealing with auditions. Plus, T.J. gives a great tip for playing villains.

Finally, the episode concludes with a discussion of the upcoming 7th Annual NYMIF, Oct 15-18 at Magnet Theater. Working with co-producers Robin Rothman and Michael Lutton, the festival is in its 7th year and has 215 performers coming to the stage. T.J. talks about what the festival has meant to the musical improv community and he shouts out some returning favorites that he’s looking forward to seeing!

Tuesday June 16, 2015, 1:44pm - by Magnet Theater

sketch teams logo

The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2015 Fall Season of SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from September 18th through December 13th!

Please read the following application instructions and sketch team participant expectations very carefully – we’ve made some very big changes to the program. Got questions? Come to the Fall 2015 Sketch Team info sessions Wednesday, June 17th, &  June 24th at 6pm in room A at the Magnet Training Center!


  • Each team will create one 20-25 minute sketch show every three weeks.
  • All shows will take place Sunday nights at 7:30pm.
  • All sketch team shows must contain new, original material written specifically for Magnet Sketch Night that has never been previously performed.
  • Each show will contain the best material created for the team as selected by the director – there is no guarantee that every writer will get a sketch in each show or that every actor will be featured in each show. Funny wins. Them’s the breaks.
  • All sketches will be performed by the team’s ensemble cast of sketch actors. If a particular sketch requires it, the team may use outside casting (writers, other actors) at the director’s discretion.


  • Sketch team members are expected to attend all required meetings and arrive fully prepared. Sketch is time intensive – make sure you can commit 100% and make sketch a priority before applying.
  • Sketch team members must be available 1:30-4:30pm on the day of their show for a mandatory tech rehearsal at the theater.
  • Sketch team members may not schedule conflicting appointments (work, rehearsals, shows, etc) during scheduled techs, shows, rehearsals, or meetings.
  • Sketch teams must rehearse with a Magnet approved director. Each individual sketch team member is responsible for paying their director a flat rate of $12/week; team due collection is left to the discretion of the director and team (as it would be for an improv team or practice group).
  • Sketch team members are expected to promote their shows at the theater.


For the Fall 2015 Sketch Season, you must apply as a writer, performer, or a writer/performer. Expectations, prerequisites, and application instructions for each role are below! 

**All applications must be received by 5pm on Wednesday, JULY 15th! 


  • Writers must attend one 3 hour writing meeting per week, all performance rehearsals of their sketches, and all tech rehearsals.
  • Writers must constantly generate new material and are required to bring in a minimum of one new sketch per week, even during show week.
  • Writers are expected to be respectful and gracious collaborators in writing room. Writers should give and receive feedback to and from their teammates in an open and constructive manner.
  • Writers will be required to rewrite material and meet deadlines as requested by their director.


  • Completion of (or current enrollment in) Magnet Sketch Writing Level 2 or previous participation on a Magnet Sketch team.

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line,

  1. A cover letter detailing relevant sketch experience inside and outside the Magnet community.
  2. A single PDF of a sketch writing sample. Your sample should contain at least two sketches and may not exceed 10 pages.



  • Performers must be available for a regularly scheduled 2-3 hour performance rehearsal the week leading up to the show (ex: Sketch Team Fart Police has a performance rehearsal every Tuesday before a show, 7-10pm).
  • Performers must be available for techs, table reads, and any additional rehearsals as required by the director.
  • Performers must learn all show material in a timely manner.
  • Performers may collaborate with writers outside of rehearsals to help create characters and sketches, but performers should not be writing material on their own for shows.
  • Performers must perform sketches as they are written – ad libbing is good in a pinch, but be prepared and don’t put yourself in positions where you must resort to improvisation. Be polished and professional in all shows.


  • Completion of or current enrollment in Level 6 team performance workshop, participation in a past or current Megawatt team, or previous participation in a Magnet Sketch Team.

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line,

  1. A cover letter detailing relevant performance experience inside and outside the Magnet community.
  2. A headshot
  3. A PDF of your acting resume
  4. A link to a 3-5 minute sample of your work as a performer. This can be a reel, a recording of a stage sketch, a video sketch, a monologue directed at a webcam, anything you feel showcases you as a comedic performer. Youtube or Vimeo preferred. The link can be public, private, or unlisted – just be sure to send passwords if necessary and the link itself may be no longer than 5 minutes.

You will be informed on Wednesday, July 22nd, if you have been selected to audition in person. In-person auditions will be held on Saturday, August 1st and Sunday, August 2nd at the Magnet Training Center. Unfortunately, if you are not available for these times you cannot be considered as a performer for the 2015 Sketch Season.

For the in-person audition, you will perform two contrasting sketches that will be assigned to you and another applicant several days prior to the audition. You must be completely off-book and you may rehearse before hand with your scene partner, at your discretion. You will also be asked to cold read sketches in the room.



  • Writer/performers must meet all writer expectations AND performer expectations.
  • Writer/performers are expected to write for other performers as well as for themselves. There is no guarantee that a writer/performer will perform in all of their own work.


  • Writer/performers must meet all writer AND performer prerequisites or previous participation on a Magnet Sketch team.

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line,

  1. All materials detailed in writer application instructions.
  2. All materials detailed in performer application instructions.
  3. Also, please indicate if you are willing to be considered as a writer or actor ONLY if you are not selected for a writer/performer position.

You will be informed on Wednesday, July 22nd, if you have been selected to audition in person. See performer application instructions above for more info about the audition.


Failure to follow application instructions will keep you from being considered for sketch team. Double check your application!

**All applications must be received by 5pm on Wednesday, JULY 15th! 

New teams will be announced mid August! 

Tuesday May 19, 2015, 2:08pm - by Magnet Theater

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.54.47 PM

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 spaces@magnettheater.com.

And feel free to spread the word to your friends and teammates—referrals are welcomed and encouraged!

Wednesday April 1, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Shacottha Fields Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Improviser, actor, and brave soul, Shacottha Fields joins host Louis Kornfeld on this episode of the podcast to talk about her solo show, following your heart, and how she got started in improv. We begin with a discussion of Shacottha’s solo improv show, 1 Deep, a one-person Harold that begins with its star clowning and taking in the audience. Raised by her grandparents, Shacottha finds that she’s an old soul who knows herself quite well, which prompts Louis to talk about the difficulty many adults have with connecting to their heart and has him asking our guest,  “What does it mean to follow your heart? Shacottha tells us what she thinks people should be taking away from improv shows. Plus, we hear about the sudden realization she had that moved her to try acting. (Spoiler: She almost opened a daycare!) Shacottha is truly someone who follows her fear and this episode contains so many little life lessons, it should be filed under Self-Help. If that’s not enough for you, listeners will find out humanity’s main job on this planet and whether or not Louis is ready to have kids! Also, a heads up for folks in Juno, Alaska — tune to hear when 1 Deep will be visiting you in April!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.

Or simply enjoy Episode #38 below via SoundCloud.

Tuesday September 9, 2014, 8:04pm - by Magnet Theater



Elana Fishbein was in the first ever show at Magnet.  And she was really good.  10 years later she’s an improviser, actor, writer, and teacher.  She has Master’s Degree in Educational Theater from NYU, leads our Youth Program, and co-created two professional development workshop series for teachers: “Beyond Winging It: Improv in the Classroom” and “Play.” She can be seen with Story Pirates on stage and heard with The Truth Podcast your headphones.  All in all, you’ve got a super funny improviser with interesting things to say about it.  Listen to this great episode where Louis Kornfeld goes deep into the idea of forcing yourself to be vulnerable, improv accountability, shared ownership, and Canada.  Enjoy!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #15 on iTunes

Friday September 20, 2013, 4:31pm - by WillyAppelman


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 sean@magnettheater.com.

MTB: Anything else you want to say?
ST: At the Saturday Drop-In, we put the “fun” in improv fundamentals!