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

Posts Tagged ‘Improv’

Wednesday October 19, 2016, 2:18am - by Magnet Theater

matt-shafeek-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A Megawatt performer since the very beginning, MATTHEW SHAFEEK, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about the different eras of Magnet, being a class clown, and, oh yes, gaming! These two performers go way back and have a lot of fun with this conversation. See Matt perform each week on Wednesdays with Metal Boy and on Saturdays with The Armando Diaz Experience!

Louis kicks off the episode my enlightening us to the fact that this Metal Boy has been in and out of Megawatt since the VERY beginning of Megawatt. How many teams has he been on?? Louis tries to guess! He and Matt discuss the different eras of Megawatt and even reflect on the days when you could take an eight-week Armando Diaz class for $99. Matt describes the role that improv has taken in his life and the balance it provides. He and Louis talk about what it means to be a class clown and Matt surmises that joking around in school was the beginning of his career in comedy. He even tells of the fan club he once created for himself! Both guys reflect on how nice it is to hang around comedians without having to do bits all the time and you won’t want to miss the moment when Louis says something that he thinks sounds insincere! That’s all before Louis asks about Matt’s life off-stage and he tells us that he’s a big time gamer. Matt gets into the board-game renaissance, how incredibly helpful games can be in social situations, and how gaming may be the future of storytelling. There’s no hotspot on this episode, but you better believe that we cap it all off with A Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles! Huzzah!

Wednesday October 12, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

annie-moor-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Visual artist and Magnet performer, ANNIE MOOR, is on the podcast talking with Louis about improv and how her art, no matter the medium, always trends toward storytelling. They dive deep into how narrative shows come together and even discuss how jealousy can be a great motivator. Aside from performing at Magnet with Wonderland, Premiere: The Improvised Musical, and Object Work, Annie is also a Magnet instructor, an early childhood educator, a teaching artist, and a visual artist who will be selling her incredible works of art at the Union Square Holiday Market from November 17th to December 24th! So many ways to enjoy Annie Moor, so little time! (But at least this episode will live online forever.)

Annie recently started teaching Level One Musical Improv at Magnet, so Louis begins the podcast by asking her what she thinks is the mark of a successful Level One class. He also wants to know how teachers help students who have zero musical awareness – how to bring them to their voice? Annie find that sharing her own anecdotes of “not knowing” with students often puts them at ease. Louis comes up with a cool analogy about cutting tomatoes with a dull knife that relates to staying sharp and keeping things fresh when performing. As he is wont to do when musical improvisers are across from him, Louis asks about the use of narrative structure in musical improv. He and Annie get into how narrative shows differ from traditional longform and how picking an antagonist is really hard! Annie has been doing improv since 2008 but it took her four years to find musical improv, which has truly been her love. She’s been doing theater her whole life though and made the jump to studying animation when she went off to college where, Annie claims, she was the worst animation student NYU has ever had! More recently, her primary non-musical improv experience has been performing with Object Work, an improv show which uses real objects. Louis and Annie talk about playing out real life on stage and they ask, does a good kind of jealousy fuel us appropriately? Annie talks about how all of her artistic pursuits trend towards storytelling and narrative moments. She says that storytelling starts taking shape for kids around four years old and that she loves getting to see that development on a regular basis in her work teaching one through five year olds. To end the show, Annie and Louis play a rousing game of monologue hotspot! Sadly, due to a recording error, we lost this episode’s edition of A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles. Only Annie, Louis, Evan, and Grant will ever know how truly delightful it was!

Wednesday October 5, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

beth-slack-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A star on both Magnet and UCB stages, BETH SLACK, stops by to talk with Louis about her love of opera, how 9/11 changed her career plans, and why musical improv rules. Beth tells us all about her long relationship with stage performance and, how after taking a break from it for nearly 10 years, she came back to the stage by finding improv. She and Louis get to know each other and she does a wonderful scene with jar of pickles! See Beth weekly at Magnet with Premiere: The Improvised Musical, The Cast, and at UCB on Harold Night with Foxhole. Plus! This coming week she performs a live radio play with The Broadcast (10/10) and as a part of the New York Musical Improv Festival with Hansbury & Slack (10/13).

As a fantastic musical improviser, it might not surprise anyone to find out that Beth was originally trained in opera! She first moved to NYC about 15 years ago, three days before the events of September 11th took place. Understandably, her plans to “make it” in the big city were put on hold and she moved back to Ohio. Beth later returned to NYC to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, after which, she stopped doing anything artistic for about 10 years. She tells us all about getting into opera and vocal performance and how she went to boarding school for a year specifically to study voice. With her extensive knowledge, Beth enlightens Louis as to the differences between opera and musical theater. About four years ago, almost exactly 11 years after first moving to NYC, Beth signed up for an improv class and her world was changed again. She and Louis discuss how narrative plot functions in different styles of improv and they mull over the differences between tangible art and performance art. Digging further into improv theory, they discuss the pitfalls of over-agreement in scenes and how it’s perfectly okay to ask questions. Plus, Louis and Beth play some two-person hotspot and Beth performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles!


Tuesday September 27, 2016, 3:54pm - by Magnet Theater

carly-monardo-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Animator, illustrator, and Magnet performer, CARLY MONARDO, joins us to talk about the links between her different disciplines, who her heroes are, and what drives good characters. Plus, she plays monologue hotspot with Louis and performs a serious scene with a jar of pickles. Carly started at Magnet with the Free Intro to Improv class and now performs on Megawatt with Metal Boy, on Magnet Sketch Teams with Dinosaur Jones, with her duo TJ & Blood, and every Saturday night with The Cast! She’s also created the artwork for dozens of different shows at the theater and helped drive the Magnet’s visual identity. Could she BE anymore wonderful???

Carly begins this episode talking about how she first became interested in improv by watching shows at UCBT and then seeing Musical Megawatt at Magnet. Her first class was the Free Intro to Improv class, which turned out to be a really good idea. Louis pauses the improv talk for a bit to ask about how Carly got into animation, graphic design, and art in general. She talks about having to take an acting class in college and how the lessons learned while studying animation have bled into her performance. They also attempt to answer the question of what drives characters. Is it all ego-driven? Louis can’t let the opportunity pass to ask Carly what she did on The Venture Bros., what her proudest projects have been, and who her heroes are! Plus, they throw a lot of shade (and love) at Sulaiman Beg. Our episode concludes with a wonderful round of two-person hotspot based on the suggestion of “a rose by any other color” and Carly performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles. You’ll have to listen in because these two native Staten Islanders have a grand old time!

Wednesday September 21, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

christopher-hastings-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Welcome back to the Magnet Theater Podcast! Louis took the summer off to backpack across Europe, rub elbows in the Hamptons, and finish planting his rooftop garden (his tan is looking GREAT). Now he’s back in the saddle with the prolific and charming Christopher Hastings, a writer/performer on the Magnet sketch team Student Council and the creator/writer/artist of many comic books such as Deadpool, Adventure Time, and The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. They discuss Chris’s origin story as a comic book writer and illustrator, how he found himself simultaneously in the world of comedy, and interestingly, why he eventually stopped improvising. PLUS! We debut two new segments: a two-person hotspot explosion and an improvised scene with a jar of pickles. Huzzah!!

Our heroes begin this episode talking about how Chris became the much-beloved comic book writer and illustrator he is today. He tells of attending the School of Visual Arts and his transition from being primarily an artist to being mostly a writer. Since creating his own, online, indie title (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja), Chris has worked his way to writing for Marvel, where he now authors titles such as the Unbelievable Gwenpool and Vote Loki. He discusses the differences between working for yourself versus at a major publisher and how to collaborate with artists as a writer. He also walks us through process of writing an issue of a comic and what’s demanded of a writer by both the form of comics books and their publishers. With so many projects orbiting his brain-box, Louis can’t help but ask what Chris’s busy schedule looks like and why the heck, on top of it all, does he also do comedy. Chris answers all of Louis’s inquiries and talks about how he got into (specifically) improv and why he later stepped away from it.

PLUS – Louis debuts his new hotspot segment “Getting to Know Each Other!” which features hockey, UCB, wizard beards, and corrective lenses.

DOUBLE PLUS – Louis debuts our new improvised segment! It involves a jar of pickles and you’re just going to love it.



Wednesday August 31, 2016, 3:56pm - by Magnet Theater


Magnet Theater is now accepting applications for the 2016 fall season of Megawatt. Please fill out THIS FORM no later than WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th to apply for an audition slot. Auditions will take place on Sunday, September 11th, with callbacks being Monday, September 12th.

Anyone who has completed Magnet Level 6 is eligible to apply, though please note that a completed form does not guarantee an audition slot. Due to the high volume of eligible improvisers and a limited number of slots, priority will be given to students and performers who have finished the class or performed on a Megawatt team within the last year.

Audition confirmations will be sent out by SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th.

CLICK HERE to apply.

Friday July 22, 2016, 2:38pm - by Magnet Theater


Announcing the Summer 2016 Circuit teams!

Shows begin TONIGHT, 7/22, at 10PM at the Training Center, and run through September 16.

Emily Swindal
Brin Snelling
Michael Stevens
Elan Sofer
Katherine delongpre
Yimin Peng
Teddy Ortega
Grant Goldberg
Coach: Gregg Zehentner

D. Parker Phinney
Chris Bonet
Chloe Metzger
Isha Lambkin
Roman Zelichenko
Jason Singer
Lisa Yapp
Coach: Amanda Xeller

Christopher Pesch
Danielle Wessler
Alexei Bobrowsky
Dorrie Jankowski
Casey Schneider
Evander Duck III
Brendan Jordan
Perri Gross
Coach: Ashley Glicken

Saidah Dunston
Nitya Shekar
Federico Apuzzo
Ashley Toussaint
Virginia Dickens
Moshe Maizels
Andrew Fafoutakis
Kelly Kreye
Coach: Kyle Gordon

Morrison (Musical):
Ryan Kelly
Nick Levya
Mila Milosevic
Erin Richardson
Mallory Schlossberg
Michael Serpe
Coach: Harry Marker

Wednesday July 20, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

SVB & Charles Rogers [small] Subscribe with iTunes

Filmmakers and co-creators of the upcoming series Search Party, SARAH-VIOLET BLISS & CHARLES ROGERS, join special guest host Rebecca Robles to talk about about their big projects, the formation of their partnership, and of course, showbiz. Their 2014 film, Fort Tilden, was completed in a single summer and won that year’s SXSW Grand Jury Award. Since then, the duo has written for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Mozart In The Jungle, and their upcoming TBS series Search Party, which they also directed. Join Rebecca as she talks with SV and Charles about their comedy careers, the ethics of media, and much much more.

We kick off this episode with the thrilling reveal that Charles has known our engineer, Grant, since high school and that everyone has been in HAIR. Rebecca introduces us to her very smart and cool friends, Charles and Sarah-Violet. She asks them about what it was like to have their families experience Fort Tilden for the first time and, in general, the feelings that arise when having their work screened. Hear SV and Charles discuss the stress of such situations, and how to celebrate success and vent frustrations in the strange and competitive world of showbiz.

Our guests answer hard-hitting questions like: “Has SV ever done improv???” and “What is Twitter for???” They comment on working with improvisers on set and we hear this dynamic duo’s origin story, which began in a grad program at NYU. Though Rebecca may know something about it already, for our sake, she asks SV and Charles about the magical process of making Fort Tilden and what it was like to move quickly on such a large project. She also wonders how much of  Search Party is influenced by Fort Tilden? Our two visitors talk about addressing ethics and gray areas in their work and how wanting to be seen as “good” is a major theme of Search Party. Plus, they offer thoughts on how social media is best utilized and how people should go about asking for help. It’s all about looking to give and receive love, rather than asking what someone can do for you. That, my friends, is some damn good advice.

Watch Search Party on TBS later this year, ya cuties!! We guarantee you’ll see some familiar Magnet faces. 🙂

Wednesday July 6, 2016, 5:35pm - 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:

— Saturdays —
July 23rd 4p-6pm
July 30th 4-6pm
August 6th 4-6pm
August 13th 4-6pm
August 20th 4-6pm

When to be available:

How to sign up: Fill out this form! http://goo.gl/forms/5Gy3NXw0ubDPeod12


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

Wednesday June 15, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Scott Lawrie 2Subscribe with iTunes

Founding member of Magnet mainstays The Wrath, SCOTT LAWRIE, tells us how he got into improv, of his time working in broadcast television, and what it means to be “taken care of” on stage. Learn a bit about Scott’s upbringing, his penchant for preparedness, the hallmarks of field production, and his love of The Golden Girls. We love Scott. Scott loves you. And you’ll love Scott after listening to this (if you don’t already). Check it!

Our episode kicks off by discussing Scott’s love of “dream characters” and how he was roped into improv in the first place. A fan favorite on Magnet’s stage, Scott says she started improvising relatively late after getting a career in broadcast news off the ground. He tells of how his predilection for preparation has influenced his life and eventually, his comedy. Taking improv classes got Scott saying “yes” more often and highlighted how numerous shifts in power could be. Looking to dig a bit deeper, Louis asks Scott where his comedic sensibility comes from and identifies two of Scott’s improv trademarks. Scott illuminates some of the advantages of growing up with financial concerns and other life challenges while also discussing with Louis the ideas of awareness in the world and being in touch with oneself.

Venturing into another aspect of Scott’s background, Louis inquires about his career in broadcast journalism and working at NBC. One thing that hooked Scott on the field while he was studying it in college was the ultimate goal of helping people tell their stories. He talks a bit about working as a producer in Las Vegas and then deciding to give NYC a try, which has turned into an 11 year experiment. Getting into the nitty gritty, Louis and Scott discuss the hallmarks of field producing, accountability and ethics in media, and what Scott looks for when watching the news now. He also steps us through his path from broadcast news to broadcast comedy! Scott worked for years at The Colbert Report (from nearly the very start to its end) and more recently, at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. How did improv help him make that life shift?

Wading further into the improv waters, Scott tries to answer what it means to be “taken care of” on stage. He talks about lucking out with his first and only team, The Wrath, holding onto their sacred rehearsal time, and how it’s the best way to end a tough Monday. Louis identifies one of improv’s greatest byproducts and where it comes from, and Scott (perhaps) coins the term, “Thelma & Louise’ing it together.” Louis makes mention of power in improv and how The Wrath’s comedy has a way of always hitting hard. For over four years now, they’ve given the Magnet comedy that is personal and yet pointed at society. How do they do it? What does Scott look for when improvising? To answer these questions, and those beyond, Scott and Louis discuss the television shows Designing Women and The Golden Girls. Scott notes the relation of these shows to young gay men and Louis draws the fine line between order as a force of evil and order as an agent of good.

To close, we’re sad to inform you that Scott will soon be moving to the West Coast, but it sure sounds like he crushed it in New York. We’ll miss you, Scott!