Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Wing’
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!
BEEES!!! turned 2 earlier this year! They are celebrating with a Two-Year Anniversary Show this Friday, March 29th, at 7pm, and you are all invited!
Formed in late December 2010, BEEES!!! gathered for the first time as a team at Mooncake, a few doors down from the Magnet Training Center. Over dinner and cheap Sapporo beers, they got better acquainted with one another. Some had taken the Magnet musical improv classes together, and were nervous and excited to be placed on their very first house team; others were seasoned performers, with years of improv and stage experience under their belts. What they all had in common, was their musical improv training under the brilliant Tara Copeland and Frank Spitznagel. BEEES!!! hit the Magnet stage for their first show on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011.
(Team Trivia: Michael Lutton came up with the team name, which won the majority of the votes, over gems such as “7 O’Clock,” “The Richard Cheddar Show,” and “Employee of the Month.”)
Since then, BEEES!!! has performed regularly on Magnet Musical Tuesdays, survived two hurricanes (Irene and Sandy), won five Inspirado challenges, and performed in theaters and improv festivals throughout NYC and along the East Coast, including The Depot Theatre, Boston Comedy Arts Festival, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, NYC Improv Festival, and the New York Musical Improv Festival.
BEEES!!! is happy and proud to call the Magnet Theater home. Come this Friday, March 29th, at 7pm and join them in celebrating 2 years of making beautiful musical improv together.
BEEES!!! is: Jamie Cummings, Michael Lutton, Desireé Nash, Steve Whyte, Catherine Wing.
GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL will be having its final show this Friday night, June 29th at 8:30pm at the Magnet Theater. Tickets are going fast, so get them now before the show sells out! Psssst … if you want discount tickets for $7, use the code “POTUS Felching” when you buy your tickets HERE.
Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel. Book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte.
Starring: Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, TJ Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.
In case you’ve missed the earlier installments of the Magnet Blog’s interview with GAY BOMB co-writer, Steve Whyte, here they are: Part 1 and Part 2. And now, our third and final installment of the interview.
As New York City Pride kicks off this weekend, the Magnet Theater is proud to present Pride Night 2012! We’ve got a sparkly line-up of shows tonight that highlight LGTBQ issues and LGBTQ performers, with lots of sketch, music, and improv. Let’s take a walk across the rainbow, shall we?
At 7pm, we have the one-man show, Cock of the Walk. Written and performed by Athos Cakiades, and directed by Kelly Haran, Cock of the Walk introduces you to five characters that explore masculinity and the male psyche in ways that will tickle your funny bone. It promises to be “pretty dirty” and “rather gay,” which is our idea of a good time at the Magnet Theater on a Friday night. Also, it’s a Time Out New York Critics’ Pick!
At 8:30pm, Gay Bomb: The Musical returns to the Magnet stage for its June run. Check out all the media attention, from the featured article on the front page of EDGE New York, to the blurb in Chelsea Now. There are only four shows left, so if you haven’t gotten GAY BOMBed yet, it is highly recommended that you come see the show very soon. And (shhhhh!) we’ve got a secret discount code for $7 tickets. Please enter “POTUS Felching” when you buy your tickets here.
Friday, 6/15, 8:30pm
Monday, 6/18, 8:30pm
Friday, 6/22, 8:30pm
Friday, 6/29, 8:30pm (Closing Night)
Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel, and book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte.
Starring: Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, TJ Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.
At 10pm, we have a special Made-Up Musical with a cast of LGBTQ performers, all from Musical Megawatt house teams: Melissa Gordon, Oscar Montoya, Andrew Fafoutakis, T.J. Mannix, Michael Lutton, and Catherine Wing. You can’t have a full night of LGBTQ comedy without musical improv, right?
All the singing and dancing and Broadway jazz hands will get you nicely warmed up for the final show of the night.
At 11:30pm, There’s No Place Like Home presents a GLTBQ All-Star Improv Event. Andrew Fafoutakis hosts a special night of homo hilarity with a cast of improv superstars: Bianca Casusol, Kevin Gilligan, Melissa Gordon, Scott Lawrie, Michael Lutton, T.J. Mannix, Michael Martin, Oscar Montoya, Louie Pearlman, Nathan Peterman, Emily Schorr Lesnick, Emily Shapiro, Steven Slate, Lauren Ashley Smith, Catherine Wing, and a Super Special Guest! It’s a fantastic and fun way to end Pride Night 2012. But don’t just take our word for it. Check it out — There’s No Place Like Home is a Time Out New York Critics’ Pick! Come on by and celebrate Pride with us tonight!
- andrew fafoutakis
- Athos Cakiades
- Ben Jones
- bianca casusol
- Catherine Wing
- Chris Friden
- Cock of the Walk
- Dave Tomczak
- Dreagn Foltz
- Emily Schorr Lesnick
- Emily Shapiro
- Frank Spitznagel
- Gay Bomb
- Jen Sanders
- Kelly Haran
- Kevin Gilligan
- Lauren Ashley Smith
- Louie Pearlman
- Made-Up Musical
- Melissa Gordon
- Michael Lutton
- Michael Martin
- Nathan Peterman
- Oscar Montoya
- Pride Night 2012
- Scott Lawrie
- steve whyte
- Steven Slate
- There's No Place Like Home
- Time Out New York Critics' Pick
- TJ Mannix
- woody fu
The second show of the Magnet Theater’s sketch company-in-residence, “America!” will introduce you to characters that will take you on a journey through our national psyche, and explore the people and things that define and inform our American-ness. Like baseball. And Ira Glass. And immigrants.
So unfurl your flags and crack open a cold Sixpoint beer: opening night of “Company 29: America!” is coming your way this Friday, May 18th, at 7pm at the Magnet Theater.
Dedicated to producing new and original sketch comedy shows on a continual basis, Company 29 consists of the Magnet’s strongest writers, performers and directors. The goal of Company 29 is to create character-driven, thematically cohesive sketch shows with a unique voice.
Sponsored by: Sixpoint Brewery
These are the writers and performers of America!:
Written By: Paul Barker (Horses, Dumbkowsky), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Tim Eberle (Brick, Alchemy), Amanda Hirsch (Think Improv), Beth Newell (Kiss*Punch*Poem, Dumbkowsky), and Jamaal Sedayao (Brick, Turboner Bigote).
Featuring: Mike Barry (Lead McEnroe), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Ruby Marez (Aquarius), Lauren Olson (Chet Watkins), Christian Paluck (Chet Watkins), Justin Peters (Chet Watkins), Rachel Rauch (Leviathan), Jamaal Sedayao (Brick), Jason Scott Quinn (Silver Fox), and Ross Taylor (Aquarius, The Wrath).
Directed By: Nick Benaquista (Lead McEnroe)
Fri May 18th, 2012, 7:00pm
Sat May 19th, 2012, 9:00pm
Sun May 20th, 2012, 8:00pm
The Magnet Blog interviewed Company 29 Head Writer, Tim Eberle, to get the inside scoop on Company 29 and how the group prepares for their shows.
Magnet Blog: How is Company 29 structured differently from how sketch groups are usually structured?
Tim Eberle: Company 29 is really structured more like a resident theater company than a sketch group; we’re made up of a writing team, performance, troupe, lighting/sound designer, and directing team. The idea behind the group has always been to bring all of these different aspects together to create full, unique, and cohesive sketch shows, based around a single idea or theme. The scripts are generally character-based and written for specific performers, who work with our director and tech team throughout the rehearsal process to bring the scenes to life in the most engaging way possible. It leads to a “the whole is greater than the total sum of its parts” situation, and really showcases the different talents floating around the Magnet.
MB: Do the actors write, or the writers act? Are directors part of the group, or do they rotate/change for each show?
TE: We definitely have a couple of writer/performers in the group, especially Jamaal Sedayao and Kevin Cobbs. They’re great because they know how to write so well for themselves as well as the other actors in the group. And Jamaal can pull from his Brazilian (I think?) background to give the show some diversity. We have one director (Nick Benaquista) who directs all the Company 29 shows. It’s a big asset having Nick direct multiple shows because he’s developed a great sense for the different writing and performance styles we have, and he can use that when he’s working to build beats and work on characters in rehearsals.
MB: What is the writing process?
TE: When we first start working on a new show, the writers will get together to pitch ideas for a theme or structure to the show (like setting the whole show in the world of a public school, as we did with PS2012). Once we’ve settled on the theme, we’ll starting pitching sketch ideas or looking at sketches that people have that could potentially work for the show, and discuss which actors would be the best to play which parts. Over the next few we’ll work as a group pitching jokes, editing the sketches, and tweaking the material to make it work for the actors. So it’s collaborative in that sense, but the onus is really on the individual writers to own their material. We don’t write too many sketches together as a group, but we all work together to make sure the sketches work for the show we want to put on. Once we have enough material, we’ll choose the sketches we want to use in the show, put together the running order, and all that good stuff.
MB: What’s the timeline of putting a show together, from conception to show time?
TE: Usually about 2 months. We like to have about three weeks to write and edit and then a little over a month for rehearsals, since scheduling rehearsals for a cast this big and this busy is obviously difficult, and we want to have enough rehearsals for each sketch.
MB: Was there anything you learned In the process of putting together the first Company 29 show, that you decided to do differently for this upcoming show?
TE: We’re not going to do the character bits that we did with PS2012 this time around. They were funny as character pieces in the last show, but they disrupted the flow of the whole piece. This time, we’re following a more standard sketch revue structure.
MB: Will there be rolling auditions/submission invitations for folks who are interested in joining Company 29?
TE: We’ve had the same cast for the last two shows, and they’re fantastic. We don’t have any plans to hold big auditions in the near future, but we’re always looking to add people here and there. We brought Justin Peters on for this show because we needed someone to play a racist ex-minor-league baseball player, which seemed right in his wheelhouse. We’re bringing on a couple of new writers for the next show as well, and are always looking for more sketch-writers who like the style of sketch that we do.
MB: Why “America!”?
TE: The idea really came from the fact that for a little while we thought about doing a political theme for the next show. The more we batted the idea around, the more sketch ideas came up that centered on general Americana, beyond just politics. It seemed like a really fun and relatable theme to play with, so that’s where we went. We ended up with sketches about Ellis Island, Johnny Appleseed, Ira Glass, Kenyan marathon runners, and, interestingly enough, nothing about politics. Which is probably for the best. I don’t think anyone really likes political sketch comedy. Not enough silly voices.
Company 29 is proud to be sponsored by Sixpoint Craft Ales. Based in Brooklyn, Sixpoint is an innovative craft brewery that makes bold and delicious beers. It is also committed to supporting local creative endeavors, and Company 29 is thrilled to have them as a sponsor. For all you craft beer lovers, Sixpoint is having beer specials at the Magnet for opening night on Friday. Drink up and enjoy the show!
Photos: M.Woody Fu
- Amanda Hirsch
- Beth Newell
- Catherine Wing
- christian paluck
- Company 29
- Craft Beer
- Jamaal Sedayao
- jason scott quinn
- justin peters
- Kevin Cobbs
- lauren olson
- Mike Barry
- Nick Benaquista
- nick kanellis
- Opening Night
- Paul Barker
- peter mcnerney
- Rachel Rauch
- Ross Taylor
- ruby marez
- sketch show
- Tim Eberle
- willy appelman
GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL opened to a sold-out crowd last Friday, May 4th. The plot was full of twists and turns that we cannot divulge, and the action was so hot that we were unable to obtain pictures of the show from the actual opening night. Instead, an anonymous source supplied us with clandestine photos from a secret GAY BOMB dress rehearsal.
Here is Part 2 of my interview with GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL co-writer, Steve Whyte.
Magnet Blog: How do you and your co-writer, Chris Friden, know each other?
Steve Whyte: Chris and I met at UC-Berkeley. A couple of years after we graduated, we started a weekly comedy/sports TV show on Cal Football and Basketball. It ended up getting picked up by SportsChannel (now FoxSports), and going national. We ran for three years and won an Emmy, and since then we’ve both been involved in various aspects of video production.
MB: Did you find that your musical improv skills came in handy while writing Gay Bomb?
SW: Absolutely. I think it definitely guided the rewriting of the screenplay to fit the musical format. Additionally, before we started the rewrite, we ran several improv sessions with members of the cast. Almost everybody in the cast has come up through all of the Magnet’s musical improv classes. So improvising both scenes and songs was something that comes naturally to them, and something that they do every week. It was helpful to see what elements might work well by improvising them first, before sitting down to do the rewrite. It also gave the actors time to get familiar with their characters, so that they had a head start in that department when finally getting a chance to work with the book.
MB: Neither you nor your co-writer, Chris, identify as LGBTQ. As straight allies, what compelled you two to write GAY BOMB?
SW: Being a white, straight male, try as I may, I have no idea what it’s like to deal with the injustices that others go through on a daily basis. While both Chris and I have close family members and friends who are LGBTQ, and we try our best to empathize, we don’t truly know what it’s like to experience life as an oppressed minority in a prejudiced society. However, I don’t think that should stop one from trying, and I certainly don’t think it should stop one from speaking out and doing what they can to address these faults in society.
With regards to casting, I cast the people that I thought would fit the roles best, and who were exceptionally funny and talented. There was no thought put into trying to cast all straight or all gay or a certain percentage mix of cast members. As it turns out, I think our cast is close to 50/50. I think it has been nice to have this mix of performers, as it provides helpful feedback and input for the piece from various viewpoints. Interestingly, four of our gay actors play straight characters, and at least two of our straight actors play gay characters. At the end of the day, it’s a bunch of funny, talented improvisers who have been performing together at the Magnet for years, and who are just looking to put on a fun, funny, entertaining, and perhaps even meaningful show.
Thanks, Steve! We’d like to think that GAY BOMB was one reason why President Obama finally decided to support marriage equality. Go, President Obama!
Catch GAY BOMB on select Mondays and Fridays in May and June at 8:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here. Use the code “POTUS Felching” to get half off the regular ticket price, for all shows, including tonight’s! The code is only good for today, so buy those cheap tickets now!
Fridays: 5/11, 5/18, 5/25, 6/15, 6/22, 6/29
Mondays: 5/21, 6/11, 6/18
Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel, and book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte. Starring Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, T.J. Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.
If you are unable to attend the show, or wish to offer continued support, please consider donating to the GAY BOMB kickstarter fundraiser. The creators of the show have accrued significant debt to put this show together, for set design, costumes, rehearsal space, and many other necessities that arise as the show continues its run. The hope is to raise $2,000 more dollars in a week, for a total of $7,000. Please go to the GAY BOMB kickstarter page for more information on the excellent pledge perks.
Stay tuned for the next installment of my interview with Steve Whyte!
Photo credits: Steve Whyte and Woody Fu