Posts Tagged ‘Improv’
Founder of Improv Everywhere and UCB stalwart, CHARLIE TODD, joins us to talk about causing scenes, his early days at UCB, and Two Beers In, his new political roundtable podcast! In addition to his infamous prank collective and budding podcast, Charlie plays at UCB on Saturday nights with The Curfew and has hosted UCB CageMatch on Thursday nights for the past 13 years. We’re so happy that Charlie took the time to sit down with us and we know you’re gonna love this episode!
Louis begins the episode diving full force into Improv Everywhere, but not before he describes a conflict he had just witnessed on the subway. Charlie contrasts Louis’ tale by explaining how the mission behind IE is to create positive public moments that foster community. Our duo discusses the path that IE has taken over the years and Charlie tells us about the origin of the project, which started with a Ben Folds prank. They talk further about the rise of IE in parallel with the emergence of blogs, YouTube, and internet connectedness. Charlie describes the current YouTube landscape and notes how the competition between creators and corporations has grown as of late. He also talks about branded content and how artists pay for their creative processes. Louis asks how Charlie deals with cases of when brands or other organizations co-opt IE concepts and the use of viral content for the sake of marketing.
Moving away from the business side of things, Louis wants to know which prank ideas pass Charlie’s bar for inclusion, how he feels about going global, and what it’s like organizing large groups of people to do things without a set outcome. Charlie walks us through a somewhat recent run-in with the police and tells us how IE deals with authority. Louis expresses to Charlie how the work of Improv Everywhere makes New York feel a bit smaller and you’ll find out why Charlie really hates the term “flash mob!”
Switching gears, Louis talks with Charlie about his early days at UCB. Fun fact: He heard about the UCB from Hollywood’s T.J. Miller while studying theater in England! Another fun fact: Charlie took his Level 1 with Armando back in 2001. Since he’s been around for UCB’s meteoric rise, Louis asks if Charlie was he able to see the history happening as it unfolded, or if it was more of a sudden realization? Plus, how cool was it when Conan was still in New York? Right, guys?? And it just wouldn’t be a podcast with Louis Kornfeld if they didn’t explore something philosophical like the cyclical nature of performing improv on the same stage for years on end.
Charlie and Louis wrap up this episode discussing Charlie’s newest project, Two Beers In, a tipsy political comedy podcast and live show which he co-hosts with his wife Cody Lindquist. It’s a political roundtable where everyone has chugged a couple beers before the talking starts. Do yourselves a favor and check it out!
Announcing the Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program
The Magnet Theater is excited to announce the Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program for 2016. The aim of the scholarship program is to provide access to improv classes to 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.
Applications are now open for the Magnet Diversity Scholarships–those selected will receive full program scholarships through Magnet’s Improv program. The scholarships will cover Levels One through Level Four, and contingent upon acceptance, Level 5 and Team Performance.
In this first round of the program for 2016, the Magnet will be awarding up to $30,000 worth of scholarships to those selected through the application process.
We are excited to be able to offer full program scholarships, which we feel will provide the best experience to those selected. Due to the limited number of full scholarships available and the expected number of applicants, it is likely that applications will be competitive.
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, and the scholarships are open to both those who have never studied at Magnet, and to those who have partially completed the program.
Applications are now open and can be filled out here. The application includes general information, and some short essay questions. Applications are due May 18th by midnight, and we hope to notify selected students by Wednesday, June 1st.
There will be a delightful Q & A / informal brunch on Sunday, May 15th from 11am to 2pm, open to all.
A joy to watch on UCB’s Harold Night and TourCo, STEFAN SCHUETTE, joins host Louis Kornfeld for a heavy dose of improv nerdery and to share his improv journey with us. Stefan moved to the city five years ago, has studied everywhere, and currently flies all around the country performing improv. He loves the craft so much and he’s so damn funny, we just had to have him on!
Not too long ago, Stefan hosted his own improv podcast (Improv Noise), on which Louis was a guest, so you can consider this the episode of Frasier when Ted Danson shows up! Louis starts out by asking Stefan to walk us through his route to a life of comedy. Stefan had been doing improv forever in various places and styles when, five years ago, he finally moved to NYC to chase the dream. First being cast at UCB as a member of UCB TourCo, he was then placed on Lloyd Night and quickly rose to Harold Night, where he currently plays with Some Kid. Louis asks him to compare the experience and approach of performing with TourCo versus Lloyd Night and then goes on to contrast Lloyd with Harold Night.
As promised, we get a deep dive into a number of improv techniques and approaches. On the Harold structure itself, Louis and Stefan discuss what we can call a Harold: Does it need to be a particular structure, or can it be anything long-form? He talks about TourCo performances and how they strive more to show the crowd funny scenes than the mastery of a form. Our pair makes a fuss about preparing the audience for what they’re about to see and Louis asks Stefan about his approach to interviews at the top of shows.
Although he considers himself more of an organic player, Stefan has been playing almost strictly premise-based improv for two years now, so he provides advice on building those premise muscles. Louis inquires about Stefan’s coaching and what he most often focuses on, and we are given a beautiful analogy that relates improv to a baseball card stuck in bicycle wheel spokes. They discuss having longer-term goals to focus on with your team and Stefan provides more advice on second beats, third beats, and callbacks. They also explore how group mind influences performances.
As we approach the end of the episode, Louis asks Stefan about how he comes across as a human and what it means to be “specific.” To wrap it al up, our dynamic duo talks about the Keith Johnstone style of improv, which is found all over the world. One thing’s for sure: they love opening doors.
Congrats to all of our new Spring 2016 Conservatory Circuit teams! Come see one of their shows, Fridays at 10pm, April 22nd through May 27th. Huzzah!
Coach: Ashley Glicken
Kate de Longpre’
Coach: Michael McLarnon
Coach: Tim Canty
Coach: Matt Sellitti
To celebrate our 11th Anniversary, guest-host Rebecca Robles interviews Magnet founder Armando Diaz about his first dance, marching band, and the power of “no.” Some of you might remember from Rebecca’s first appearance on the podcast, Episode#40, that she’s Armando’s #1 fan, so we thought it would be just so fun to have her interview Armando herself! Here’s to another year of the Magnet Theater and t0 wonderful people engaging in delightful conversation!
Rebecca begins the episode with a special gift for Armando that she found on the train platform. This of course leads Rebecca to ask Armando if he sides with God or the Devil. It’s so profound, you might think that Branson Reese is conducting the interview. Will Rebecca and Armando provide any answers as to whom we should follow?
Truth be told, we don’t really want to provide any answers to any questions – you’ll just have to listen. But let us assure you that the following things happen in this episode:
- Armando talks about his birthday being Halloween
- Rebecca asks about first dances and first kisses
- We find out which instrument Armando played in marching band!
- Rebecca makes a very special phone call on air!
- A super important lesson is learned
Truly, this is an episode 11 years in the making. Please listen and please enjoy!
Student Council member and a big wig in The Music Industry, ADAM TWITCHELL, sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to discuss production value, physical comedy, and his indie team EagleFox. Adam compares his two most recent sketch teams, comments on the evolution of the sketch program at Magnet, and even shares some ideas for sketches taken straight from his notes. Finally, he talks about being jobless. This episode with lift you up!
We pick up in the middle of a conversation between Adam and Louis regarding the sketch “Lost at Sea,” which Adam wrote and performed with sketch team, Wendigo.(You can watch it below.) He and Louis discuss writing sketches that have a bit of production value and he walks us through the creation of “Lost At Sea.” Jumping off of on the themes of physicality and stage pictures, Louis asks Adam about his silent movie show and and he talks about how he’s a big fan of not only that category of films, but playing with genres in general.
Speaking on tropes and old films, Louis and Adam ponder how to go about writing something original in an era where everything has been done. Adam is now a member of sketch team Student Council and he relates how it is working with them versus his previous team, Wendigo. He also tells Louis how much he enjoys sketches that require a decent amount of research, even if he’s writing about the business of something like the Wonka corporation.
Adam reads some real ideas for sketches from his phone and tells us what he gets from “the room” during the creative process. He and Louis talk about traveling to sketch festivals and how shows should flow. Having been a part of it since the very beginning, Adam answers questions about how the sketch program at Magnet has progressed since its inception. Louis shares some of Armando’s best advice for sketch and asks Adam what wisdom he would impart upon someone who is greener in the scene.
Getting controversial, Louis asks Adam whether he prefers improv or sketch, OR if he loves them both equally, like children. Without giving anything away, we’ll just tell you that Adam recently joined Megawatt veterans The Music Industry and still finds time to play with his indie team EagleFox from time to time. He notes that camaraderie is the #1 best taste to making an indie team great and keeping spirits high. At Louis’ behest, he details the legend of EagleFox’s “Hair Mona Lisa,” which is a part of INSPIRADO folklore.
We conclude this episode with Adam discussing his “quarter-life rediscovery,” his current jobless state, and by finding out our guest’s top five desert island comedy picks.
Spartan improviser, Executive actor, and director of Object Work, CHARLIE NICHOLSON, sits down to discuss his upcoming Directors Series, harnessing risk on stage, and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Throughout the episode, Charlie and host Louis Kornfeld find a great deal of common ground as they discuss things like ambiguity on stage, forgetting one’s self in a show, and how to approach leading an ensemble. It’s a beautiful episode with beautiful people and how about that pic, right??
To begin, Charlie opens up about his nerves regarding each show and how he channels them into preparation. He tells us why he loves The Medusa and how he seeks to inject something different into each show the performs. Louis latches onto the topic of small moments and they discover their mutual reverence for well-placed ambiguity. Then, Louis offers that works of art may serve as outcrops of ourselves which help us frame ambiguous moments. How philosophical.
Moving from the abstract to the human, Louis asks Charlie about his style as an improviser and they talk about Charlie’s love for risk-taking on stage. They also touch on Charlie’s favorite thing to experience in a scene partner. Louis makes a puzzle analogy, folks! Charlie talks about forgetting himself amidst a show and the conjuring of magic on stage. What does is mean to play “out of control?” Charlie and Louis offer up two competing definitions and discuss each. Plus, learn how Charlie’s natural curiosity fuels his performance and find out his recommended reading for Louis.
With its upcoming run looming, Charlie passionately shares with us his thoughts on April’s Directors Series, Object Work, which came to him in a dream. He espouses his love for extending ourselves beyond our bodies and bringing life to the lifeless. Additionally, Charlie shares how he approaches directing a group of experienced performers he so adamantly admires and he and Louis go on to discuss different learning and teaching styles. To wrap up the episode, Charlie shares some of his favorite books and media, and of course, he and Louis discuss RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Please, don’t forget to go see Object Work this April. Thursdays at 10pm.
*Charlie wants us to note that, at time of recording, he goofed on the authors name of Silently and Very Fast. He said “Catherynne Valero” but what he meant was “Catherynne Valente.”
Get ready, because heartthrob DEVIN O’NEILL joins us to talk about her lifelong pursuit of comedy, performing for children, and how following your feet is the best! From The Cast to Sketch Teams to Megawatt and INSPIRADO, hear about Devin’s many comedic ventures and how she most prefers to approach scenework. Plus, a cameo from Ed Herbstman and Louis being an old man!
Louis begins this episode pointing out how nervous Devin seems to be. What’s she got to be nervous about? It’s just a podcast! All kidding aside, she quickly masters her fear in time for Louis to ask her about her favorite quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” On her way to discussing imaginary friends, Devin manages to insult Louis’ age and it’s good fun for all. Laughing off his obviously hurt feelings, Louis wants to talk about Florida, which is where Devin is from originally. She tells us of this odd and, at times, amazing state and then claims that she’s wanted to be a performer and comedian since she was three year old! Wow. And the best part? It’s true!
Devin has been performing for as long as she can remember and, in adulthood, spent time acting in a children’s theater company which toured throughout Florida. All this before she moved to NYC to do improv and create funny characters. She got into improv thanks to her friend and Magnet House Manager, Bimini Lee Wright, after watching a UCB class show and then seeing *Kiss Punch Poem*. Sorry, 101 class, but Devin ended up taking classes at Magnet. Circling back to children’s theater, Devin and Louis discuss why playing for children is both incredibly difficult and totally amazing. They answer the question we ask in retrospect: How does an improv audience compare to a room full of unabashedly honest children? Plus, Louis provides a theory as to why improv is populated by such a bunch of smarties.
Back to the present, yes? Devin came to New York to to pursue comedy, something which stemmed from her work in Commedia dell’Arte. She tells of about all the different shows she does, plus(!), she’s got a full-time job. Needless-to-say, she has a lot to balance day-to-day and being on stage allows her a central focus compared to the scatterbrain nature of daily life. She and Louis ponder advice for enjoying second beats and talk about innovative thinking versus adaptive thinking, or initiating versus responding, if you prefer. She advocates adding a feeling of inclusiveness to how you begin a scene, no matter what kind of initiation you provide, and as promised in the lead, they talk about their feet knowing better than their minds!
To wrap things up, Louis and Devin wax poetic on The Cast, which for the record, Louis thinks is better than 98 Degrees. Devin tells us how crazy fun the show is and gives a lot of well-deserved credit to their director, Hannah Chase. Plus, Ed Herbstman makes a cameo and Devin talks about being friends with the one and only Justin Torres!!
- Bimini Lee Wright
- children's theater
- commedia dell'arte
- Devin O'Neill
- Hannah Chase
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet sketch teams
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- new york
- new york city
- sketch comedy
- Student Council
- Sulaiman Beg
- The Cast
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: Sunday, April 3rd — May 8th from 3:00-6:00pm
How to sign up: Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “COACHING CLASS VOLUNTEER.” Please include your full name and phone number.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at (212) 244-2400.
The Cast member and hilarious human, GERI COLE, joins the show to talk about travel, her utopian hometown, and how to bring more voices to the comedy table. Geri spends her weekdays working on Sesame Street and her weekends creating one-of-a-kind improv shows with The Cast, so we’re thrilled that she’s taken some time to talk to us about true wealth, her time in Barcelona, and what she loves about her sweet, sweet hubby! Listen in, kiddos.
We gave it away in the intro, but the first thing Geri and Louis discuss on this episode is travel _ specifically about how Geri loves to do it despite the fact that it gives her terrible anxiety. Louis can’t pick up and go nearly as easily as Geri can, so asks about the psychology behind having a travel bug. One thing that helps Geri overcome her anxiety and see new places is her love of observing people. She talks about being very generous with her attention and the act of people watching. She then tells of her moving to Barcelona for a year and how her “naive by nature” personality led her to NYC.
Enough about all the cool places Geri has lived, let’s talk about where she’s from! Geri grew up in Columbia, Maryland, which is a planned community designed to be a utopian town prioritizing racial and economic integration. No joke! Hear her talk about this fascinating and truly inspiring place. This leads into an exploration of the idea of true wealth and what makes a person truly rich. Geri makes up some statistics and, spoiler alert, money isn’t the (only) answer! Louis also asks, can you be “good” at having money? Fascinating!!!
These days, Geri works at Sesame Street (along with a number of other Magnet students and performer) and it’s been her street away from home for seven years now! That fun fact aside, Louis transitions to what he deems the heavy and controversial part of our podcast. He wants to know how we can bring more voices to the comedy table. He also asks, how are we contributing to good in the world and not just adding more crap? Geri attempts to answer these absolutely massive questions from Louis and provides us with some insight into how we might do it. They wonder, is there any real science behind what they’re saying? If you’re a scientist, let us know!
Then, out of nowhere, Louis pivots to talk about The Cast! Geri claims the show is so good because they’re having a friggin’ blast up there. Color us convinced! Louis tells Geri what his students say about the show and she admits that what she loves most is how they fearlessly cram for shows.
Lastly, and certainly not leastly, Louis makes Geri list three things she loves about her husband, Andy Mills. Tune in!