Posts Tagged ‘George Basil’
ADX performer and veteran of Megawatt, FRANK BONOMO, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about his discovery of improv, Magnet’s early days, and how he approaches the artform now. They also reflect on the importance of the SoHo Apple store to the New York improv scene and how cool it was to see Mike Myers perform at Magnet. There are loads of other great tidbits in this episode and we’re happy to return from our spring break with one of the greats. Huzzah!
Frank jumps into our interview not knowing what to expect and Louis quickly tries to determine how long they’ve known each other. Beginning in 2006, Frank was in the second wave of Magnet students, so he’s known Louis for quite some time and has been around the theater for years. Back then, he was working at the Apple store in SoHo when his now brother-in-law, Joey Dembner, suggested taking a class at Magnet. By the time Frank started classes, he and Joey weren’t the only improvisers working there and he tells us a bit about the connection between the improv crowd and that particular Apple store, which also employed notable Magnet alum George Basil (HBO’s “Crashing,” TBS’s “Wrecked”).
Louis asks Frank about his first impression of improv, which he says was, “What a weird, fun thing to stumble upon.” Talking about the early days of Magnet, both Frank and Louis recall seeing the Mike Myer’s stage show that eventually became his movie, “The Love Guru.” (Fun fact: the Deepak Chopra signature on the back wall at the theater is real!) Frank also reminisces about what it was like to learn the history of Harold-based improv at a time when it was only about ten years old. They discuss the long-running, now long-defunct, show “The Tiny Spectacular” and some of the incredible performers who were a part of it. As one for the earlier people at Magnet who had not studied anywhere else, Frank has a unique perspective on the theater’s beginnings.
Our duo debates whether or not improv is accessible to a person off the street and Louis asks Frank which performers he watched closely when he was a student. They also discuss Frank’s style of play, which Louis describes as both very physical and highly adept at calling back subtle patterns. They wrap up the episode discussing the difference between using your strengths to your greatest advantage and simply relying on them like a crutch.
It’s the Magnet Theater Podcast’s ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY (!!!) and to celebrate, we’ve got Magnet alumnus George Basil on the show. George stopped by while he was in town for the theater’s 10th Anniversary and talked to host Louis Kornfeld about getting into improv, Michael Keaton, and the art of living. These two friends who met in the Magnet’s first Level 2 improv class fill this episode with artistic philosophies, discussing nonlinear skill progression, rallying against the monetization of art, and how that which inhibits us also enables us to be great. Plus, find out the artisan job George took when first moving to NYC and where that scar came from. This is a feel-good episode if there every was one and we can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our one year anniversary than with an old friend. Check it out!
Or simply enjoy Episode #41 below via SoundCloud.
The Magnet Theater not only boasts its current roster of powerful improvisers and performers, but also celebrates those who have taken on new adventures in their lives and with their comedy.
George Basil (The Pete Holmes Show, College Humor), a Magnet performer known for his epic improv with 4Track, is now out in L.A. You probably have seen him in a Vonage commercial or maybe even a bunch of CollegeHumor Originals. We wanted to catch up with George and shine the Magnet Theater Blog spotlight on him and his work. We conducted an email interview with George Basil. Below are his responses:
What is your improv and comedy history? What got you interested and when were you first exposed to improv?
GB: I didn’t learn about improv in high school or college. The first time I’d ever seen improv was on “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” Watching those performers fly around looked so fun. Then I researched it a little and came across something called the “Big Stinking Comedy Festival” in Austin, TX. It boasted amazing improv groups, and it got me hard, so I went down. Eventually I took a class at the Hideout Theater and from then on I was totally hooked. I’ve always kind of known that my only redeeming quality is finding the keys to a person’s laughter lock, it was just hard to find the confidence to pursue it. When I got to NY I took classes all over and then found a home at the Magnet.
What initially attracted you to the Magnet?
GB: All the misfits. There were no preconceived notions about the comedy we wanted to explore. We were all making mistakes and figuring it out and loving the process of learning about people through improv.
What teams, shows, and projects were you a part of while at the Magnet?
GB: A ton of different teams and shows. The first I think was “Munchaüsan” then “El Partido”? I was at the Magnet every night until their doors were locked. I was also in 4-Track which was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Really proud of all the teams I was on and every performer I got to play with.
What were some of your favourite shows and performers while here?
GB: I loved watching “Pax Romana” a lot. They always had so much fun, it was contagious. I can’t name just a few performers I liked to watch. It was literally every last one. Aside from being my friends, they were all so fucking funny.
Who were or are your favourite improv instructors? Who do you attribute to your growth as an improviser and comedian? Who influences/had influenced you as an improviser?
GB: Obviously Armando had a lot to do with how I approached comedy and improv. His patience and insight into the reality of character was huge. He’s been my biggest influence to date, for sure.
I got to work with Mark Sutton in Vancouver once, he was awesome. Mick Napier was great too.
Dan Bakkedahl is still the improviser that knocks me out anytime he’s on stage. I love that dude’s work, always have.
What did you learn at the Magnet that helps you now?
GB: Patience. Laying in the cut. Screaming doesn’t get you food. Cool doesn’t mean shit. Any and all confidence I have as a performer I attribute to the Magnet. I feel like I grew up on that stage, having never done any other theater training.
Why did you leave NYC?
GB: I had some work in LA and everyone encouraged me to make the move for professional reasons. And I owed the Italians money.
Are you still improvising?
GB: I am but not as much as I’d like to.
What projects have you taken on since your departure from the Magnet?
GB: A lot of web shorts and indie films. Anything and everything. Always saying yes.
What are you currently involved in?
GB: I’m co-writing a web series that’s loosely based on my life as a weird stonerish dad. It’ll hopefully show the ups and downs of alternative style parenting.
What excites you and inspires you?
GB: Watching youngins do improv. This art form is still in its infancy. 4-track toured Canada a bunch and watching kids that have been doing improv since high school and in some cases even earlier was fucking rad. Game didn’t matter, character didn’t matter, they just knew. They were so good at emoting and everything
What are the differences between the New York scene and the scene of Los Angeles?
GB: The biggest difference for me is that in LA you can’t walk from one theater to another the way you can in NY. Aside from that, great stuff is happening in both cities. The weirdest thing about LA is that instead of rehearsing in a studio, you go to someone’s house.
What shows and performers should us New Yorkers totally take note of in case we take a trip out West?
GB: The main thing I would suggest is to check out every venue- there’s good shows and performers scattered across LA. The Clubhouse, Second City, UCB, I.O.West- try not to limit your perspective on style, go tons of places, and don’t be too stuck up to laugh.
Thanks George! When in New York, George has been known to drop by Magnet for shows. Keep an eye out for more of George’s work.