Posts Tagged ‘Improv’
Executives bad boy and newly-minted Director of Magnet Sketch Teams, ARI MILLER, joins us to talk all about the sketch program and to share mad wisdom (tight). This episode is chock full of great advice for sketch newbies and veterans alike, as well as Ari’s insight on what makes a team great. Get to know your new Director of Magnet Sketch Teams right here, right now!
Ari and Louis begin the episode talking about Ari’s sketch team, The Executives, their big move to the weekend, and writing theme shows. Beyond Ari’s own team, they start talking about the program as a whole and Ari lays out his ideas for building the program to even greater heights. They discuss how going through the program as an individual is a poor plan and Ari advises on how to be a good teammate while making it worth your while personally. Louis then asks Ari to break down the expectations of different writers and performers and to give them guidance for these varied experience levels.
Hear Ari’s advice on submitting packets, which center around clarity and boldness. Learn how to deftly hit pattern and game over and over again. Louis answers the question, “Why was Phil Hartman so incredible?” Ari also provides advice on balancing when to follow your own ideas versus taking in other people’s opinions. Want some team advice? Respect each idea and respect each other in the space. Be polite, folks! For people who have been working on sketch comedy for years now, Ari offers up suggestions and standards that will help you achieve the next level. To wrap up their sketch comedy discussion, Louis asks Arti what imprint he hopes to make on the program and Ari answers. He’s a polite guest.
Finally, they wrap up the episode by shouting out the March edition of Character Bash which will feature many of Magnet’s great teachers and raise money for East Side House Settlement.
Improviser and cartoonist, SUERYNN LEE, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss the mental complexities of artists, her artistic life, and how discovery is more fun than execution. Hear all about Suerynn’s academic life, both as a student and in her career as an academic advising specialist, and how she found herself doing improv. This is a great episode for artistic contemplation with both Suerynn and Louis offering poignant insights. We think you’ll just love it. Huzzah!
There is no time wasted in discussing light topics this episode as Suerynn and Louis immediately wrestle with the concept of intersubjective fictions and whether or now we are all delusional. They suggest that if you can smile at how delusional you are, there’s a lot of pleasure in exploring the funhouse mirror of your ego. On a more concrete note, Suerynn tells us about her job as an academic advising specialist for the art department at City College. She talks about helping students find the next steps in their education and how she found herself in such a role. Louis asks about Suerynn’s one year in spent in Dallas and she opens up about her first and only frat party before going on to describe her high school experience.
Diving further into their formative years, our pair wonders how much emotional weight we absorb from those around us and how does that affect our early emotional life? Suerynn discusses her parents’ artistic lives and how they have influenced her. She and Louis ask, does it benefit artists to be a bit unbalanced or overly-sensitive? This leads them to discuss isolation and loneliness as it relates to art. At this point, one might ponder, “Where does improv fit into all of this?” You will find out, we assure you. Suerynn talks cartooning, the value of following your own impulses and imagination, and why she was initially resistant to producing images. How do Suerynn’s sensibilities when working alone overlap with her sensibilities when working with a group of people? She and Louis also discuss how boring it is to come up with a concept and execute it perfectly versus discovering the end point on the way there. “Wow. Art is cool,” you’re probably thinking.
Lest you think the back end of the episode brings any less heat than the preceding portions, you will be happy to hear about Suerynn’s father running ultra-marathons, how Suerynn manages downtime, and even more talk on improv. Though Suerynn questions her career as a performer, Louis believes that she excels at being incredibly sincere on stage, something not easily done. Our two highly reflective subjects discuss the artificiality of deciding on goals for oneself, internalized authority, and the myth of an unadulterated self, but that’s only before they get into a conversation about routines, roles, and how time continues to rush forward, providing new things to break you open, goals or no. Plus, learn about Louis’ nightly habit and how to criticize art and measure the value of your choices! Don’t be a dummy: follow @suerynns on Instagram!
AVALANCHE performer and Magnet house manager, ALEX KORNFELD, joins his brother Louis to discuss his improv evolution, getting onto Megawatt, and going back to basics. They take no time getting to know each other on this episode and jump right into talking improv. This is likely your only chance to hear two brothers from Staten Island with the last name Kornfeld talk about improv on a podcast! Huzzah!
To start things off, Alex shares an analogy he’s be thinking about a lot, but not without digressing for a minute or two. He and Louis talk about his experience of not getting onto Megawatt right away and then backing up to how he got his start at Magnet in the first place. After years of dodging the press, Alex finally addresses what it was like to be Louis’ younger brother as he began taking improv classes. He describes going through the Magnet improv program and when he felt like Megawatt was a possibility. What’s Alex’s advice on making a great improv team? Have fun fucking with each other! Louis also asks Alex what it’s been like facing the expectations that come with Megawatt and what it feels like now that he’s been doing it for a while. Alex talks about taking the coaching class with Armando and he asks about his older brother about becoming a teacher. They discuss the benefits of going back to basics and the beauty of Level 1 exercises. Plus, they ask the important question: as people living in a big city, can we afford to not learn from our mistakes?
Actor, director, and Queen of Illinois, KRISTINA GROSSPIETSCH, joins us to talk about her time spent in France, why Freeze Tag sucks, and authenticity on stage. Growing up as a theater-obsessed child and ultimately landing in good old NYC, Kristina shares the story of how she got here and muses on improv, comedy, and interpersonal communication. See Kristina perform each week at Megawatt with Bodywork and listen to her talk with Louis right now!
Louis launches into this episode asking Kristina about her time spent teaching English in rural France. She tells of making up her teaching methods on the fly to see what stuck with her elementary school students. Kristina fondly recalls the ample idle time she enjoyed while living there and wonders if we really need everything New York has to offer, or if we’re better off with simply a good bar, a good friend, and a job to satisfy us?
Although raised outside of Chicago, Kristina did not take her first improv class until 2012 after landing back in NYC following her French sojourn. Growing up, it was all theater, baby! Kristina talks about her heavy involvement in the local musical theater scene around Chicago and then hits us with a HUGE takedown of the classic improv game Freeze Tag. (It’s warranted, folks!) She also admits to being an overachiever and how that has hampered her ability recognize exactly what she’ll be best at in art and life. Plus, Louis and Kristina attempt to answer the hard-hitting question: Can you avoid messing up your kids?
In the back half of the episode, we find out what convinced Kristina to ultimately give improv a try and she tells us about the experience of diving into a new artform. Louis taps into Kristina’s love of authenticity on stage and asks, given her Megawatt teams’ penchant for the theatrical, what has it been like to attempt authenticity within those heightened atmospheres? They also explore the observation that people with anxiety seem drawn to improv and Kristina and Louis have a major communication breakthrough of their own! To close out the episode, Louis spins a beautiful metaphor and Kristina talks about the Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival, which she is producing, coming to you this March! (Submissions are open now!)
Warm-blooded baby of sex, WILL JACOBS, drops by to talk about his foray into playwrighting, being malleable on stage, and how to provide balance on a team. A comedy quadruple-threat, Will can be seen performing on Magnet shows like Musical Megawatt, Megawatt, and The Friday Night Sh*ow; in schools all over the city with the Story Pirates; on the internet with Cake I.D.; and oh yeah, he’s also a playwright. There’s a lot packed into this one, so let’s just dive in!
Will begins the episode talking with Louis about Telegraph, a play he wrote while attending the Washington University in St. Louis. He discusses the undertaking of staging something so daunting as a first-time playwright. Louis and Will talk about college and Will describes what it’s been like to find permission to indulge in his interests. Find out where Will’s ideas come from and if their origin is different when improvising versus writing! He and Louis discuss the hurdle of playing with people who really impress you and the challenge of being malleable not only while acting but in life.
Will relays some great advice for how to behave when you’re being judgemental of a scene! They discuss “wherewithal” as it relates to improv and wonder if it is the opposite of being in your head? Louis points out one of Will’s greatest abilities and diving into the technique, Will offers tips on how to point out an unusual thing in a way that matters and can sustain scenes. They both agree on an improv rule: Don’t be Ironic Comment Guy! Finally, these two gentlemen talk about providing balance to a team and why Spock was so great on Star Trek. Finally, we hear about how Will went from, “I could never do that” when watching improv to performing it almost every night of the week!
Ariana Grande’s resident Floridian, DEDE TABAK, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about being from Miami, her college improv experience, and how to surprise yourself on stage. That’s just a sample of what this episode has to offer, though. You’ll also get to hear about celebrities, how to handle disgusting scenes on stage, how Dede got her start in the arts, and why strange scene partners are awesome. More too, but you get the idea! Huzzah!
This episode begins with a rare and lengthy cold open and continues in earnest on the subject of celebrity encounters. “How tall is Jemaine Clement?” you may wonder. Well, Dede Tabak has the answer! Louis asks Dede about her comedy roots and what she was into as a child. Dede grew up in Miami, Florida watching In Living Color, presumably because she didn’t live in the part of Miami where people were partying or going to the beach, or maybe it was because she was a child! Louis and Dede exchange methods on running away from home, something they would both occasionally attempt in their youth and Dede shares the story of her parents meeting at NYU and moving from New York to Miami and, how now, Dede works at NYU where it all began. They talk about the burden of asking friends and family to come see your improv shows and how to perform “gross” things on stage, or when to just avoid them.
Backing up, Louis asks Dede what brought her to improv in the first place, and we discover that she began life as a theatrical kid and attended a University of Miami theater camp growing up. She then talks about her college improv days at Fairfield University, where she had a very positive experience under the guidance of Heather Parady, complete with lessons like cut the bullshit, be truthful, and to occasionally burn some sage. Dede and Louis explore what it means to “be truthful” in a scene and how to step out with nothing in mind. Find out how Dede most loves to play and hear her talk about how she (successfully) surprises herself on a regular basis. They also discuss regret in improv, what Dede likes to get from her scene partners, watching improv after-the-fact, and cherishing the strange classmates and scene partners you’ll have along the way. Dede says “vagina” in this episode more than anyone ever has on the show! Plus, A Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles!
- Ariana Grande
- David Wain
- Dede Tabak
- Fairfield University
- Heather Parady
- improv technique
- Jemaine Clement
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- Michael Ian Black
- Michael Showalter
- new york
- new york city
- Wet Hot American Summer
- What We Do In The Shadows
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:
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at (212) 244-2400.
Youthful cast member, KIM BROWN, joins us to talk about training at multiple theaters, Gilmore Girls, the post-election Megawatt experience, and much much more. Hear about her Megawatt team YOUTHS as well as what it’s like to put on a show with The Cast. She dishes about everything from hot celebrity gossip t0 her indie team Free Kittens, so you can rest assured that this episode explores the full breadth of humanity. Listen up!
Welcome to 2017! The Magnet Theater Podcast is back for another year of interviews and, this week, we have Kim Brown on the mic. Kim and Louis begin this episode discussing her writing gig at a popular website dedicated to celebrity editorials and hot hot goss. As he often does, Louis asks our guest how she got herself into acting and comedy. Kim’s origin story eventually lands her at UCB and with her beloved indie team, Free Kittens. We hear all about that, plus, she and Louis share some hot takes on which days of the week are best for taking classes!
After several years at UCB, and following a short break from improv, Kim began classes again at Magnet and had an amazing experience going through a second program. She details what it’s like to come back to take improv classes at another theater and why it was such a joy. Kim joined The Cast just after completing Team Performance Workshop and speaks here about how everyone on the team brings their own expertise to the show each week. Speaking of expertise, Louis and Kim get to talking about Gilmore Girls! As a Gilmore Girls expert on The Cast, Kim has much to say and Louis, who is only about three seasons in, also weighs in. This dive into the lore of Stars Hollow raises the topic of recreating something you really love and prompts a discussion on The Cast’s weekly process of paying tribute to a particular genre or theme.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Will Kim Brown ever take a musical improv class?” we have the answer! We find out what scares Kim about musical improv and her former love, musical theater. Kim talks to Louis about performing at Megawatt the night after the 2016 election and they wax poetic about comedy’s ability to help us during dark times. Louis asks about Kim’s Megawatt team YOUTHS and they have a rousing discussion about reframing the Harold to make it more fun and how gaining a bit of confidence can make you so much better improv. The episode concludes with a round of Getting To Know Each Other and a once-in-a-lifetime epilogue from Louis Kornfeld. Check it out!
Friendship Club founder and genius-level baby, ELEANOR LEWIS, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss the best improv exercises, how modern comedies fall short, and why mixers are so wonderful. There’s oodles of improv talk in this one and, by golly, that’s probably why you’re here. Plus, they do some two-person monologue hotspot and Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of [Redacted] Water.
This episode begins with a rarely heard cold open as Eleanor and Louis discuss hot spot, one of the very first warm-ups most improvisors encounter. They debate whether or not it’s a good exercise for a class, or even for a team, to use. They talk about ego in improv, both its destructive and creative tendencies, and Louis offers the theory that the ego of the character and the comedy of the scene are intertwined. He then asks which improv exercises Eleanor really loves. They get into talking movies, where modern comedies fail us, and the greatest comedic strengths of film versus improv. Plus, they ask the question on everyone’s mind: Is Branson Reese the ideal improvisor?
They also partake in a rousing rendition of Getting To Know Each Other in which many great topics pop up. Louis shares his ULTIMATE BELIEF and Eleanor discloses her FAVORITE IMPROV THING! I mean, these are huge. The episode wraps up as Eleanor and Louis discuss shock-value comedy and hosting the Thursday Magnet Mixers, which you should all attend! Finally, Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of Nestle Pure Water even though Nestle is a horrible company and we don’t endorse them. Superman sucks too!
She’s all over the stage and screen and now LANE KWEDERIS joins us to discuss musical theater, audition wisdom, and her favorite moments from working in TV! From the Boston Conservatory to your cable box, Lane has accumulated a wealth of experience, which she shares on this episode as she and Louis discuss her career and life as an actor and comedian. Like Louis, you have perhaps never met Lane before, but you’ll love her after an hour! Catch Lane every Tuesday on Musical Megawatt with Public Pool and on Mondays with sketch team The Executives!!
This episode begins with Louis admitting that he and Lane just met for the first time! It seems as though they’ve been ships passing in the improv night for years now. In order to get fully acquainted, Louis asks how Lane ended up as a performer. She talks about studying musical theater at Boston Conservatory and working in theater soon thereafter. So, how’s she get into improv? Spoiler: It involves a casting director’s suggestion and a new passion. Lane and Louis discuss the rigid musical theater machine versus the more welcoming world of comedy. Despite her initial interest in live theater, Lane is mostly working in film and TV these days. Louis asks a number of nerdy, technical acting and audition questions and Lane answers, giving particular attention to comedic choices. This is helpful information for those interested in that kind of work!
Jumping back, Louis asks Lane if she always knew that performance was her life’s calling, and while she says that indeed, it was, she also mentions how she once wanted to be a veterinarian. As such, she and Louis discuss cute animals (see cat above), Lane’s playful nature, and the archetypes of children. Lane also talks about the fun of performing in Urinetown as a senior in college and how she really loved the comedic aspects of it.
To bring us fully up to speed with Lane’s acting career, Louis asks her to share a couple quick hits from her television appearances. She tells of what it was like to film on Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and of a parlor trick gone wrong while shooting Netflix’s “The Characters” with Tim Robinson. Finally, Louis asks Lane about the comedy that she writes and creates herself – what makes her laugh? – and they mull over some best-case Disney princess scenarios.
Plus! We bring you new editions of both Getting To Know Each Other and A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles!
- Boston Conservatory
- broad city
- comedy central
- Dirty Dancing
- Lane Kwederis
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet sketch teams
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- musical improv
- musical megawatt
- musical theater
- new york
- new york city
- Public Pool
- The Characters
- The Executives
- Tim Robinson