Posts Tagged ‘Improv’
Announcing the 2017 Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program
The Magnet is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2017 Magnet Diversity Scholarships. The Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program was established in 2016 to provide access to improv classes to those excited and motivated students for whom money is a barrier, and to add new and diverse voices to the Magnet’s vibrant and open community.
Those selected will receive full program scholarships for Magnet’s Improv program, covering Levels One through Level Four. Contingent upon acceptance, Level 5 and Team Performance Workshop will also be included. Due to the limited number of full scholarships and the expected number of applicants, applications will be competitive. Applicants who were not awarded a scholarship last year are welcome to re-apply.
The Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program is aimed at increasing our diversity of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and age. Students of all experience levels are encouraged to apply. The scholarships are open to those who have never studied at Magnet, as well as to those who have partially completed the program. Up to $30,000 worth of scholarships will be awarded at the conclusion of the selection process.
Applications are due July 31, by midnight, and can be filled out here. The application includes general information and short essay questions. Selected students will be notified by Monday, August 14.
There will be an Open House at the Magnet Theater on Saturday, July 8 from 12 – 3 pm. Prospective applicants are encouraged to attend to meet with current Magnet performers and Diversity Scholars. There will also be an informal Diversity Jam for interested people to improvise on stage.
Human laugh factory, MICHAEL DELISLE, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss being funny on purpose, bombing on stage, and making a meal out of nothing. He and Louis debate whether or not Phil Hartman had a sense of humor, explore why Michael is so funny in a wig, and they also perform no fewer than three improv scenes together! It’s a real good time and you don’t want to miss it. Huzzah!
Beginning with the introduction of our guest, this episode gets off to what is undeniably the most awkward start in the history of the podcast. Michael asks Louis if he is truly great and the tension builds from there. These two good souls make the most out of the situation and manage to laugh their way through it.
Getting into the real conversation, Louis notes that Michael does a heck of a lot of sketch comedy, but he says he still loves improv. They debate over what percentage of sketch and improv is actually good and try to approximate what the batting averages are for each in the comedy scene. Louis breaks down Michael’s “Will Ferrell effect” for us and our heroes do some improv together. All of this in the first 12 minutes of the episode!
They dig into the idea of being intentionally funny while improvising and debate whether or not improvisers should rely on their life experience to be funny. Louis asks if Micahel is a nervous performer and Mike tells a story about bombing on stage doing stand-up at the tender age of 16. They talk about what you can learn from bombing, both in improv and sketch, and then they do another improv scene. This time, they’re both wearing shorts!
Circling back around, Michael and Louis once again discuss intentional comedic choices in improv and why it’s tricky to teach that skill. While some may consider intentionally comedic choices as going for cheap jokes, Michael thinks about it as playing the most fun thing right away. Our two heroes try to figure out why Michael is so dang funny in a wig and we find out that his favorite kind of sketch comedy is when he’s able to make a meal out nothing. Plus, they ask, “Did Phil Hartman have a sense of humor?”
Finally, Louis ends this episode by asking Michael to perform A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles.
- Elena Skopetos
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet sketch teams
- magnet theater
- magnet training center
- Maude Night
- Michael Delisle
- new york
- new york city
- Pat May
- Phil Hartman
- sketch comedy
- The Classic
- The Rolling Scones
- Upright Citizens Brigade
- Will Ferrell
We are now accepting applications for The Summer 2017 Circuit! Circuit Teams are made up of Magnet Theater students, graduates of our training program, and veteran performers. We believe that in order to get better at improv, you need to do it.
The deadline to apply is July 5, 2017, at noon. Teams will be announced July 8. Rehearsals start the weekend of July 15. Shows will begin Friday, July 21. Teams will perform Friday nights at 10:00 pm for 10 weeks (with one week off for Labor Day weekend).
To sign up for The Circuit, click this link to fill out the form:
This round, there will also be a Musical Circuit team! If you have completed Musical Level 3 and are not currently on a Musical Megawatt team, you can apply for Musical Circuit here:
Questions? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Improviser, cook, runner, and yoga instructor, LIZ MIGLIACCIO, joins host Louis Kornfeld as they take a look inside themselves as well as inside the worlds of improv and yoga. The two discuss the importance of teachers along with providing different options of learning. We learn an assortment of fun facts about Liz including the age at which she learned how to spell her last name, how she almost drowned, and much more!
At the beginning of the podcast, Liz talks about her incredible sense of direction that she learned from her father while he taught her how to sail. Louis, a native New Yorker, is jealous that she has a much easier time finding where north is – revealing that getting lost is his biggest fear. They talk about a children’s survival camp where the kids are taught to think like animals – in order to teach them survival, and how to keep themselves from getting lost.
Liz tells Louis about her last name, Migliaccio, and how she learned to spell her it using the tune of the Mickey Mouse theme – admitting that it was not until the age of 12 that she got it down. She explains the importance of her last name and how if she got married she would want to keep hers.
Along with having trouble spelling, Liz had a tough time learning in school. She mentions that she was originally placed in special education. We learn about her love for the outdoors and her appreciation for different learning styles. Liz knows she would have learned much more as a kid if subjects like math and science were combined with things she enjoyed like cooking.
They expand on the topic, explaining that learning and teaching have many elements at play (timing, luck, who the teacher is to you, who you are at the time, etc.) Liz tells Louis that she studied at ImprovBoston while she was at school at Emerson and improv did not click for her at the time – so she never counts those four years. She was constantly looking to be funny until she found Magnet – that’s when it all clicked. She went to see a Level 1 show and realized that it looked like everyone was having fun.
Louis compares this revelation to Liz’s idea of “chemistry with cooking” – how it is sometimes easier to learn when you have fun and have a community. Both of them agree that they constantly feel stimulated by others when they are surrounded by improvisers. They laugh about how accustomed you become [as an improviser] to sharp brilliance so it is hard to be surrounded by people outside of improv, who Louis refers to as “muggles.”
At some point, Liz discovered that she would have much deeper connections with people with whom she shared a community. She didn’t fully get into “Liz Migliaccio” until about three years ago when she got out of television. At the time she delved completely into the magic of improv. Liz also talks here about getting into yoga and self-discovery.
They describe the twin-like relationship between grandiose ego and what Liz calls “healthy ego.” The topic switches to our current president, his ego, and how we all have tiny presidents inside of us. The two hit on the topic of nature and how it is necessary to experience it and be humbled by it. Liz dives into her respect for the ocean and nature in general, capping it with a story about the first time she almost drowned.
As a fan of exercise, and movement in general, Liz speaks more about her experience with yoga and becoming a certified yoga instructor. She discusses originally being very stoic but now being someone who enjoys being vulnerable and crying (which she learned through yoga and improv). Liz and Louis compare yoga teachers with improv teachers and the similarities between them. They discuss the simplistic ways that the directors in both worlds can be much better teachers than others.
They tie together the conversation by bringing up the topic of twins again, this time Liz talks about being a twin sister. She describes it as coming into the world with her best friend and getting to share it with her. That’s pretty darn nice, ain’t it?
Musical improv maestro, ALI REED, joins host Louis Kornfeld on another episode of the Magnet Theater Podcast. The conversation hits a variety of topics including living in Kentucky, comparing sports to performing improv, and the pleasures of working with musical director Frank Spitznagel. We find out how Ali is able to balance her schedule as one of the busiest people in musical improv and learn about her ambitious plans for the future of the artform! Huzzah!
Catching us up on her life, Ali tells us that she has had a packed schedule for the past nine months and Louis refers to her as the busiest person in musical improv. They discuss momentum and how it can be helpful to have a full schedule.
In the beginning of the episode, Louis asks Ali about growing up in Kentucky. Doing her civic duty, Ali defines what bourbon is – explaining that if it’s not from Kentucky, it’s not bourbon – and we learn about the importance of Louisville basketball and how it was difficult for Ali to be a fan of their rival, University of Kentucky, while she was surrounded by Cardinal fans throughout college.
On the topic of sports, Ali compares being an athlete to being a performer and Louis imagines that playing sports would be similar to performing improv. Ali agrees but thinks that the subjectivity of performing makes it such that she’s harder on herself – adding that it’s easier when there is a win or a loss.
Ali and Louis take a trip down memory lane to talk about how Ali came to be the hardest working woman in musical improv. On the suggestion from an ex-boyfriend, who had had been taking UCB classes in LA, Ali went online to see if any classes were available. She saw that an improv 101 class has just started registering that night and signed up immediately. She and Louis discuss the solidarity of improv classes and Ali says that she is still friends with everyone from her improv 101 class!
Eventually, Ali found her way to musical improv. A friend of hers said that he was going to do a musical improv class at Magnet to which she replied, “Oh, hell yeah.” Since then, she has been bitten by the “Magnet bug.” Sharing her love with us, Ali teaches Louis about different strategies in musical improv. Louis compares it to regular improv and Ali discusses how performing musical improv is similar to putting on that album that you like while you’re in a certain mood – but it’s much more intense.
They talk about Magnet musical director Frank Spitznagel and his incredible knowledge of music, always able to seamlessly integrate various types of musical elements brought up by suggestions of a genre, television shows, specific musicals, etc. Ali talks about how lucky she feels to have had Frank as a teacher and to share the stage with him.
They explore the bravery that goes into musical improv and how Ali often forgets that it IS brave. She is reminded by it when people come up and tell her “Oh, I could never do that.” They also talk about the benefits of being located in New York, in comparison to LA or Chicago, because of all of the Broadway folks who are willing to coming sing and perform in musical improv.
Diving further into the artform, Ali wants there to be a more authentic, truthful place for musical improv – instead of just songs about butts (which she also loves). When she teaches, she finds that taking the mundane scenes and heightening them can become the funniest and most touching songs. Louis concurs and mentions a musical improv show he saw that capitalized on those tiny “slice of life” scenes and ended up enhancing the characters’ emotions.
As the episode comes to an end, we learn about Ali’s dream for the future of musical improv. She lets us in on her ambitious plans – stating that she will build her own musical improv empire in New York City.
Daughter of the wind, KEILANA DECKER, joins our host Louis Kornfeld in episode #125 of the Magnet Theater Podcast. The two dig deep into the topic of “having fun” and the trouble they both have with it. Both of them share their appreciation for fellow Magnet personality Charlie Nicholson – including a hilarious story involving Charlie’s toothbrush – and as always, we learn about different improv tricks and strategies from Louis and Keilana alike.
At the beginning of the episode, Keilana reveals that she has prepared for this recording by listening to other episodes of the podcast and fears that she will simply regurgitate dialogue she’s already heard. Keilana tells us about going home to Chico, CA recently and she and Louis chat about going home to see their parents and how belittling it can feel.
Speaking of home, Keilana talks about leaving hers and coming to NYC to do improv. At first, she was so intrigued and confused by how these experienced improvisers were able to have fun while performing and Louis connects with Keilana over the idea of having a hard time “having fun” on stage. Louis draws a line in the sand and says that he doesn’t like fun because “fun is cheap.” Our host and guest digress a bit, admitting that there is a benefit in allowing yourself to being exposed in front of people who are in a position of accepting and supporting you. Keilana talks about the different levels of exposure, giving the example of how she felt like she wasn’t able to tell improv teammates if and when she didn’t feel good about her performance. Tangents aside, Keilana and Louis circle back around to the topic of having fun and Louis provides the following analogy: “I love dancing – except when there are other people around doing it.”
Louis talks about a book he is reading that explores how different people deal with their wounds: people who use their wounds to better themselves and people who give into their wounds – the “born losers.” Our two heroes realize that they are both people who don’t like the excessive amount of attention improv necessitates, but who love the art form nonetheless. Louis describes improv as airing out your wounds publicly (for about 20 minutes) and they both relate to how scary and empowering that can be.
We hear about Keilana’s newest love: spontaneous one-person applause. She tells us about her appreciation for the recognition in the one person who is willing to clap by themselves, which means more than simply laughing along with everyone else, of which she says, “You can laugh because you don’t understand something.” Of this kind of bold self-expression, Keilana is reminded of her appreciation for Charlie Nicholson (her Bodywork team member). She talks about a fun game he plays by hiding his toothbrush around her apartment when he stays over. Louis describes Charlie as a person who is willing to try out something new, that hasn’t been done, just to see what happens with it.
To round out the episode, Keilana and Louis discuss how a really good scene just requires one “yes, and,” how improv helps us harness the childlike wonder we’ve forgotten about, and why cleverness has a habit of ruining improv scenes. Plus, Louis describes a dream he thinks everyone has had (no one has) and Keilana builds a beautiful metaphorical firework.
Sign up in June and get $50 off your Level One!
It’s the classic 12th Anniversary gift – $50 bucks off.
This sale is for all Level One classes throughout the month of June. That includes Improv, Musical Improv, and Sketch Writing. Sign up for all three and save $150. Or sign up for 10 of them and save $500. Unreasonable? Hell yes. But signing up for one is not only not unreasonable – it’s smart! Save money while falling in love with the most inspiring creative pursuit you can imagine. And while gaining skills that just might change your life.
When we began our theater in 2005, we never knew we’d grow into an organization with 250 performers, 22 teachers, and 80 million students annually. We tried not to, but it happened anyway. We started with Armando Diaz teaching one improv workshop and now we offer comprehensive training in improv, musical improv, sketch writing, storytelling and more. We think that studying with Magnet instructors is simply one of the best ways to improve your comedy, your art, your relationships, and your life.
That’s why we’re offering $50 off any Level One class (improv, musical improv, sketch comedy) when you register between now and June 30th, 2017. Our normally priced $399 classes are now $349 for the month of June. We ran the same sale in May and so many people took advantage of it, that we wanted to keep the good times rolling.
To view classes currently enrolling, click on the appropriate link below:
Our Level One Improv and Musical Improv classes are eight sessions with an additional graduation show at the end (no grad show for the sketch class, but it’s still amazing). And as always, free Intro to Improv classes are also available on a regular basis. Click here for details.
Hot 97 DJ turned improviser, CIPHA SOUNDS, sits down with our host Louis Kornfeld to tackle a variety of subjects in the improv world including diversity in improv, trying out for Harold teams, and how their improvising skills translate to daily life. Cipha gives a lesson on what white people love and tells Louis how he has used these secrets to perfect the ideal improv show. Cipha also plugs his two new shows coming out and explains how they will aid him in his mission: spreading the word about improv comedy.
We begin our episode with Louis asking Cipha about a rumor he’d heard: Did Cipha once skip a DJing gig while on tour with Jay-Z and Beyonce to do an improv show? It turns out that the rumors are true and Cipha admits that when Christina Gausas asked him to sit in on a “Maravilla” show, he just couldn’t say no! Cipha talks about being the host of the Hot 97 morning show for years – the most popular time slot – and how that job gave him a lot of responsibility. That responsibility added stress and finally, an associate at Hot 97 told him to get check out improv as it might help to loosen him up and relax. He went to see Harold night at UCB, signed up for a class soon after, and continued watching shows constantly. Though Cipha felt out of place at first and simply marveled in the initial magic of watching improv, he soon started to figure out strategies to conquer it. After seeing Connor Ratliff kick someone’s head off of a roof he decided, “Okay. This is what I do now”.
Unfortunately, in his 101 class, Cipha did not feel like he was as involved as he could be. One person that helped him get his footing was UCB veteran Chris Gethard, who saw Cipha tweet that he was taking classes and has since offered him advice many times over. He even let Cipha sit in on a practice session with a team he was coaching, something Cipha describes as “getting a free show but with notes.” Tracking his development at UCB up until the present, Louis asks Cipha about his UCB East improv show “Take It Personal,” which he briefly describes as, “ASSSSCAT for hip-hop.” The show involves Cipha bringing on guests from the hip-hop world to tell stories that serve as inspiration for the show’s improv.
How did “Take It Personal” come to be? Cipha went from failing to make a Harold team to running a Friday night show that’s lasted four years now. Cipha tells Louis about his first time not getting onto a Harold team, talking about how he cried in a restaurant when he read the names of the people who got on, his name absent from the list. Since then, he’s built a show that combines his two loves – hip-hop and improv – and he’s done it by appealing to the traditional audiences of both arts. How? One secret that Cipha lets us in on: he knows what white people love. You’ll have to listen for Cipha’s complete list, but he knew that for his first “Take It Personal,” he wanted to jam-pack the show and its promotions with as many things as he could: a martial artist, someone reading RZA lyrics, the actor who played Marlo on The Wire, and of course his guest, N.O.R.E.
This attempt at bringing together hip-hop and improv audiences leads Louis to ask Cipha about diversity in the improv world. They discuss how people from different backgrounds may understand certain references and how to bridge the gaps between improvisers’ backgrounds. Cipha talks about how he got his comedy start doing stand up in the “urban scene” and how he’s always hated how people try to split it down the middle – “urban” shows vs “regular” shows. Cipha also explains why it’s so important to spread the word about improv to a variety of people just so they come see it with their own eyes. It’s harder to get people to try it for themselves without them knowing what it is.
Talking more about improv technique and theory, Louis explains getting advice from Armando Diaz about playing “game” and both Louis and Cipha discuss their styles and strategies in improv. Louis shares about how he will most often go for the emotional part of a scene and Cipha responds by explaining why he likes to play support characters. They also talk about being a good listener, “half-ideas,” and using physicality to get into character. Louis recollects some wise words of advice on character and notes that you don’t want to play so close to yourself that you’re unable to see what is funny.
Cipha admits that improv has helped him battle a lifelong proclivity towards shyness and says that thanks to improv, he is not afraid to go anywhere now or talk to anyone. This revelation surprises Louis, who would think that as a radio DJ, Cipha wouldn’t have issues with shyness, but Cipha describes how being a DJ or even a stand up can be incredibly isolating and doesn’t necessarily help get you out of your shell the way working on a team does.
Louis and Cipha delve into the world of stand up and how the crowd differs from improv audiences. They talk about how it’s easier to notice that one person in the crowd who’s not enjoying the show and Louis brings up a certain improv show he did where a Russian couple was breaking up in the front row during throughout his set. He had no idea until after!
To cap things off, Cipha plugs his two shows coming out: “Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks” – a stand up comedy-based show for Tru – TV and “Hip-Hop Improv with Cipha Sounds” an improv show that will be released through Tidal. He hypes both by adding that his end goal is to spread the word about improv to the entire world.
- A Tribe Called Yes
- air horns
- Chris Gethard
- christina gausas
- Cipha Sounds
- hip hop improv
- Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet training center
- new york
- new york city
- Take It Personal
- The Wire
- Upright Citizens Brigade
International man of mystery, ROMAN PIETRS, sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to discuss his improv life, his various profession(s), and being a dad who does improv. The Warm Blooded team member explains his proclivity toward using emotion during improv and Louis unearths out some of the reasons why Roman is a person of great intrigue. The topics in this episode range from European walking tours to male-perm quiche parties, so you know it’ll be great.
We begin this episode with a sneaky little cold open in which Roman and Louis delve into their family histories including a generation that seemed to largely reject their given names.
Diving into the episode proper, Roman divulges that he planned ahead by checking emails in order to refresh his Magnet Theater memory. When discussing musical improv, Roman explains that he has “more of a musical mind than a lyrical mind” and gives an example of a song about a box. It’s the kind of improv that Roman refers to as, “speaking in tongues.” Louis also shares his perspective of letting yourself go onstage and opening your mouth without an idea.
The two chat about their experiences with emotion on stage and we find out that Roman’s safe place is going to a highly-inflated emotional state. Louis was uncomfortable with the idea of playing with emotion at first, but now he believes that emotion is everything. Roman discusses his recent struggle with breaking on stage – due to the hilarity of his teammates – and describes his team, Warm Blooded, as an ensemble that creates “passionate musicals that borderline on the obscure.”
Louis begins to figure out some of the reasons why Roman has the reputation of being a “man of mystery.” In addition to working in improv and graphic design, Roman also helps run a European walking tour industry (taking place in Budapest, Prague, etc.). After helping his wife out with a craft idea, they eventually got to be on Shark Tank. “Male-perm quiche party” is a term that Louis had never heard of, however Roman used it as a way to raise money for a good cause and in turn share a cover story with Slash from Guns ‘N’ Roses. Lastly, we hear about an interesting taxi driver whom Roman learned a lot about. And that’s just the stuff we had time for in this podcast recording!
- Edinburgh Fringe
- European tours
- fringe festival
- graphic design
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet training center
- male perm quiche party
- musical improv
- musical megawatt
- musical theater
- musical theatre
- new york
- new york city
- Roman Pietrs
- Shark Tank
- The Donkey Show
- walking tours
- Warm Blooded
- White Umbrella Tours
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.