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

Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Monday October 13, 2014, 3:32pm - by Magnet Theater

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Alex Marino occupies the Magnet Training Center office with North Coast members Jonathan DeMuth and Douglas Widick. They talk about the origins of Hip Hop Improv, the beatbox community, their personal improv journeys and bagel bites.

 

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #18 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Tuesday September 9, 2014, 8:04pm - by Magnet Theater

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Elana Fishbein was in the first ever show at Magnet.  And she was really good.  10 years later she’s an improviser, actor, writer, and teacher.  She has Master’s Degree in Educational Theater from NYU, leads our Youth Program, and co-created two professional development workshop series for teachers: “Beyond Winging It: Improv in the Classroom” and “Play.” She can be seen with Story Pirates on stage and heard with The Truth Podcast your headphones.  All in all, you’ve got a super funny improviser with interesting things to say about it.  Listen to this great episode where Louis Kornfeld goes deep into the idea of forcing yourself to be vulnerable, improv accountability, shared ownership, and Canada.  Enjoy!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #15 on iTunes

Tuesday August 5, 2014, 10:15pm - by Magnet Theater

Craig Cackowskimagnetituneslogo-PODCASTmedium I’m very happy to share this recording from the archive of Craig Cackowski interviewed live onstage at Magnet Theater by the well-prepared Louis Kornfeld. Craig and I were in class together with Del Close, on our first IO teams together, and when I was promoted from understudy, Second City placed me in his touring company.  We did a lot of scenes from the Razowsky/Colbert/Carell and McKay/Adsit eras.  He was great to tour with because he’s both reliable onstage in scenes and touring the country for long stretches in a van.  Usually people are one or the other, but he was both. Onstage he’s casual but precise, and he’s got great timing both as an audience-pleasing comedian (in the good way) and as an improv partner.  He rescues things, and if it can’t be rescued, he’ll go down with the ship.  And it seems like he’s really enjoying himself either way. And since I’m on a roll here, I should mention he’s become one of the best, most sought after improv instructors in Los Angeles.  Possibly because he’s committed to the things we learned in those classes with Del.  But also because he’s sensitive to the advancements that have been made as long-form has evolved from an obscure experiment in the basement of an anonymous Chicago apartment building 24 years ago to the dominant comedy language spoken across America and beyond.  And that’s thanks in no small part to Craig. So listen to this episode and see if you can hear what I hear – a genuinely good guy who cares about what he does, does it well, and has no need for false bluster.  Enjoy. — Ed Herbstman PS: Craig is okay.  But his little sister is like, 12 times funnier than him and at least twice as funny as me.  Hi, Craig. Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here. Enjoy Episode #11 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Tuesday July 29, 2014, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

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Greg Hess is an actor, writer and comedian in Los Angeles. He is an improviser with The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Cook Country Social Club and performs at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade in LA.

Greg talks with guest host Rick Andrews about making a living as an improviser and how he’s been ‘giving it a year for the last eleven years.’

Rick confesses that he felt like quitting improv after seeing an Improvised Shakespeare Company show.  But Rick didn’t.  And now he’s hosting this great interview!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #10 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Monday July 21, 2014, 8:47pm - by Magnet Theater

large_rachelhamiltonmagnetituneslogo-PODCASTmediumRachel Hamilton. Where do we start? Teacher, Actor, Writer… former Second City MainStage, frequent performer and instructor at Magnet, and all around wonderful human being.  She’s also the driving force behind the creation of Camp Magnet.  She lives in Northern California and we never see her enough, but we grabbed her last time she was in New York so Magnet Podcast host Louis Kornfeld could sneak in a great conversation between her workshops.

Listen to the insights and observations of this master teacher about what keeps her drawn to improvisation, seeing characters as energy, and seeking out new ways to challenge yourself.

Enjoy Episode 9 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Monday July 21, 2014, 1:14pm - by catherinewing

Lane KwederisLane Kwederis is a sketch performer at Magnet (she and I are the two women on the sketch house team, Party.) Lane also performs with her indie improv team, Power Nap, and her PIT musical team, [Title of Team] (That’s the actual title of the team, not a placeholder for this article). She’s got skills.  And she’s a wonderful person.

And I got to ask her some brilliant questions.  I’m such a good interviewer.  Check it out:

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Monday January 20, 2014, 5:05pm - by Magnet Theater

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Magnet Theater recently chatted with Beth Newell, one of the creators of Reductress.com, an online satirical news site that’s been called The Onion for women. Beth is also Managing Director of Magnet Theater’s Sketch Teams and currently performs in the improv duo Sad Kids. The conversation was mostly about shoes and purses, but Magnet managed to shift the conversation to comedy, the transcript of what followed is below.

Photo of Beth Newell at the Reductress Office

Beth Newell seen here at the Reductress headquarters, a giant uterus shaped cave.

MT: Reductress.com is a very smart and funny. I loved the ad for ‘Vagina Whitening Tampons.’ And your coverage of New York Fashion Week.

BN: Thanks. We did some videos that got passed around, which was fun.

ad for vagina whitening tampons

The new dick joke?

MT: And you’ve tapped into a lot of talent in the Magnet community to help, which is great.

BN: Thanks. There are a lot of funny women with good ideas and a lot of sharp comedy skills at Magnet.

MT: Is Reductress.com run by mostly women?

BN: Yes, it is. It’s run by women. There are some men involved, too.  We’re not actively avoiding using men, but since our playground is women’s media, women have a unique perspective that more directly serves our point of view.

MT: So basically, ‘no dudes’ is what you’re saying?

BN: No. But because we make fun of the way the media speaks to women and its presumptions about the way women think, it’s natural for women to be more equipped at exposing the comedy targets.

MT: So no dudes. I get it. Moving on-

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Thursday June 28, 2012, 1:25pm - by catherinewing

GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL will be having its final show this Friday night, June 29th at 8:30pm at the Magnet Theater.  Tickets are going fast, so get them now before the show sells out!  Psssst … if you want discount tickets for $7, use the code “POTUS Felching” when you buy your tickets HERE.

Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel.  Book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte.

Starring: Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, TJ Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.

In case you’ve missed the earlier installments of the Magnet Blog’s interview with GAY BOMB co-writer, Steve Whyte, here they are: Part 1 and Part 2.  And now, our third and final installment of the interview.

Magnet Blog:  Did you do comedy in college?  What did you study/major in?

Steve Whyte:  I didn’t really do any comedy in college. I emcee’d events which involved a smidgeon of comedy — the cheesy kind that one might have found in a resort in the Poconos in the 1950s.  I majored in Linguistics at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!).  No, I don’t speak any other languages, but I can get around in Mexico, and in Mandarin, I can count to ten and say “I’m a crazy American.”  But really I spent the majority of my time playing in the student Jazz Ensembles where I played drums in various combos and big bands.  And after college I stayed in the music business, playing at clubs, weddings, lounges, etc., until Chris and I started our goofy, college sports TV show, “Out of Bounds” on SportsChannel National (now FoxSports).  We managed to win an Emmy, though Jamie Cummings will point out that it’s a regional Emmy, and that the local weather man probably had a down year.

MB:  Who or what are your comedic influences?

SW:  I’m a sucker for satire.  Bill Maher, The Daily Show, Parker and Stone (South Park, Book of Mormon), Stephen Colbert, Janeane Garofalo, Bill Hicks, the Tea Baggers, and many others.

MB:  You have been very open about your obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  Mike Sacks, author of the book, And Here’s The Kicker, makes the connection between comedy writers and OCD.  Have you found that your OCD kicks in while you’re doing improv, or if it informs how you approach/write comedy?

SW:  For me, when I’m doing improv, or playing drums, I usually get relief from the OCD.  Those are usually the rare times it seems to disappear—only to come roaring back once the show is over. I heard this is sometimes the case for Tourette’s sufferers — their tics stop while they’re involved in their performance. On the other hand, my OCD experiences provide a wealth of material to draw upon. I guess there’s lots of comedy to be found in being totally freaked out and paralyzed by everyday shit.

MB:  Any future projects in the works now?

SW:  Chris and I are working on a couple of other projects.  One takes place in the not-too-distant future, where people have to rent a mechanical penis from the government in order to procreate and/or have sexual experiences that require a phallus.  Males have their biological penises removed at birth.  All seems normal in society until an adult male shows up with a flesh penis.  Wackiness ensues.

Thanks, Steve!  You are all warmly invited to join the cast and crew of GAY BOMB  at the Closing Night party after the show on Friday, at 10pm at Smithfield, 215 W. 28th Street.  See you there!


Friday June 1, 2012, 1:06pm - by admin
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susan and christina

In our continuing effort to share great ideas about improvisation, the Q & A series proudly posts this live conversation with Susan Messing and Christina Gausas.  Megan Gray was our host, and the audience at Magnet Theater provided the questions.  This is NSFW because Susan uses the F word a lot.  So put on your headphones.  Unless you’re alone.  Then crank it.

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Thursday May 17, 2012, 12:33pm - by catherinewing

The second show of the Magnet Theater’s sketch company-in-residence, “America!” will introduce you to characters that will take you on a journey through our national psyche, and explore the people and things that define and inform our American-ness.  Like baseball.  And Ira Glass.  And immigrants.

So unfurl your flags and crack open a cold Sixpoint beer: opening night of “Company 29: America!” is coming your way this Friday, May 18th, at 7pm at the Magnet Theater.

Dedicated to producing new and original sketch comedy shows on a continual basis, Company 29 consists of the Magnet’s strongest writers, performers and directors. The goal of Company 29 is to create character-driven, thematically cohesive sketch shows with a unique voice.

Sponsored by: Sixpoint Brewery

These are the writers and performers of America!:

Written By: Paul Barker (Horses, Dumbkowsky), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Tim Eberle (Brick, Alchemy), Amanda Hirsch (Think Improv), Beth Newell (Kiss*Punch*Poem, Dumbkowsky), and Jamaal Sedayao (Brick, Turboner Bigote).

Featuring: Mike Barry (Lead McEnroe), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Ruby Marez (Aquarius), Lauren Olson (Chet Watkins), Christian Paluck (Chet Watkins), Justin Peters (Chet Watkins), Rachel Rauch (Leviathan), Jamaal Sedayao (Brick), Jason Scott Quinn (Silver Fox), and Ross Taylor (Aquarius, The Wrath).

Directed By: Nick Benaquista (Lead McEnroe)

Showtimes:
Fri May 18th, 2012, 7:00pm
Sat May 19th, 2012, 9:00pm
Sun May 20th, 2012, 8:00pm

The Magnet Blog interviewed Company 29 Head Writer, Tim Eberle, to get the inside scoop on Company 29 and how the group prepares for their shows.

Head Writer Tim Eberle with the cast of Company 29

Magnet Blog:  How is Company 29 structured differently from how sketch groups are usually structured?

Tim Eberle:  Company 29 is really structured more like a resident theater company than a sketch group; we’re made up of a writing team, performance, troupe, lighting/sound designer, and directing team. The idea behind the group has always been to bring all of these different aspects together to create full, unique, and cohesive sketch shows, based around a single idea or theme. The scripts are generally character-based and written for specific performers, who work with our director and tech team throughout the rehearsal process to bring the scenes to life in the most engaging way possible. It leads to a “the whole is greater than the total sum of its parts” situation, and really showcases the different talents floating around the Magnet.

MB:  Do the actors write, or the writers act?  Are directors part of the group, or do they rotate/change for each show?

TE:  We definitely have a couple of writer/performers in the group, especially Jamaal Sedayao and Kevin Cobbs. They’re great because they know how to write so well for themselves as well as the other actors in the group. And Jamaal can pull from his Brazilian (I think?) background to give the show some diversity. We have one director (Nick Benaquista) who directs all the Company 29 shows. It’s a big asset having Nick direct multiple shows because he’s developed a great sense for the different writing and performance styles we have, and he can use that when he’s working to build beats and work on characters in rehearsals.

MB:  What is the writing process?

TE:  When we first start working on a new show, the writers will get together to pitch ideas for a theme or structure to the show (like setting the whole show in the world of a public school, as we did with PS2012). Once we’ve settled on the theme, we’ll starting pitching sketch ideas or looking at sketches that people have that could potentially work for the show, and discuss which actors would be the best to play which parts. Over the next few we’ll work as a group pitching jokes, editing the sketches, and tweaking the material to make it work for the actors. So it’s collaborative in that sense, but the onus is really on the individual writers to own their material. We don’t write too many sketches together as a group, but we all work together to make sure the sketches work for the show we want to put on. Once we have enough material, we’ll choose the sketches we want to use in the show, put together the running order, and all that good stuff.

MB:  What’s the timeline of putting a show together, from conception to show time?

TE:  Usually about 2 months. We like to have about three weeks to write and edit and then a little over a month for rehearsals, since scheduling rehearsals for a cast this big and this busy is obviously difficult, and we want to have enough rehearsals for each sketch.

MB:  Was there anything you learned In the process of putting together the first Company 29 show, that you decided to do differently for this upcoming show?

TE:  We’re not going to do the character bits that we did with PS2012 this time around.  They were funny as character pieces in the last show, but they disrupted the flow of the whole piece.  This time, we’re following a more standard sketch revue structure.

MB:  Will there be rolling auditions/submission invitations for folks who are interested in joining Company 29?

TE:  We’ve had the same cast for the last two shows, and they’re fantastic.  We don’t have any plans to hold big auditions in the near future, but we’re always looking to add people here and there. We brought Justin Peters on for this show because we needed someone to play a racist ex-minor-league baseball player, which seemed right in his wheelhouse. We’re bringing on a couple of new writers for the next show as well, and are always looking for more sketch-writers who like the style of sketch that we do.

MB:  Why “America!”?

TE:  The idea really came from the fact that for a little while we thought about doing a political theme for the next show. The more we batted the idea around, the more sketch ideas came up that centered on general Americana, beyond just politics. It seemed like a really fun and relatable theme to play with, so that’s where we went. We ended up with sketches about Ellis Island, Johnny Appleseed, Ira Glass, Kenyan marathon runners, and, interestingly enough, nothing about politics. Which is probably for the best. I don’t think anyone really likes political sketch comedy. Not enough silly voices.

Thanks, Tim!

The audience enjoying the show and the Sixpoint brews.

Company 29 is proud to be sponsored by Sixpoint Craft Ales. Based in Brooklyn, Sixpoint is an innovative craft brewery that makes bold and delicious beers. It is also committed to supporting local creative endeavors, and Company 29 is thrilled to have them as a sponsor. For all you craft beer lovers, Sixpoint is having beer specials at the Magnet for opening night on Friday. Drink up and enjoy the show!

Photos: M.Woody Fu

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