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

Posts Tagged ‘Louis Kornfeld’

Wednesday April 19, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Queen of dinosaurs, BECCA SCHALL, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss her 10-minute play “Goofus & Gallant,” how she has grown alongside the Magnet’s sketch program, and duh, makeover shows! We find out from where Becca draws inspiration and what her sketch writing process looks like. Her team, Dinosaur Jones, moves to Friday nights starting April 21st but you can find out all about her right now!

Our episode begins with Louis asking Becca about her contribution to Magnet Theater’s 10-Minute Play Festival, “Goofus & Gallant.” They get into the differences between writing sketch and writing something a bit longer and Becca shares her fascination with the “Highlights” characters the play is based upon. Listen also to find out who Becca Schall was before she came to Magnet Sketch Teams and what the struggling life of an actor can be like!

Since finding sketch comedy at Magnet, Becca has grown a great deal and we find out how exactly she has changed since she’s been in the program. She and Louis talk about honing your voice and learning what your sensibilities are, Louis asks about the kinds of things she finds herself writing these days, and they both discuss the legendarily bad movie “The Room.” Becca tells of being inspired by everyday daydreams, growing a sketch from a small nugget, and how she works from an analytical process. Our two heroes both agree that makeover shows are sad and weird and Louis shares with us an excellent episode of Hoarders. Outside of comedy, Becca can often be found nannying and, as such, Louis asks her to dish on what kids are into these days. Finally, Becca shares with us where her comedy compass is pointing and where she hopes to go.

Don’t forget to check out Becca’s team, Dinosaur Jones, performing each Friday at 7pm from now until the end of June with a new show each month!!

Tuesday April 11, 2017, 11:41pm - by Magnet Theater

 

Chicago defector, ASHLEY GLICKEN, joins host Louis Kornfeld us to discuss improv, how attempts at “diversity” often exclude disabled people, and why accessibility and representation matter so very much. Ashley has been improvising since she was sixteen years old and has a wealth of insight to share from her own life experience, so get on board as she drops some serious knowledge. Huzzah!

Louis begins this episode with one of the hardest-hitting questions of all time: Chicago or New York City? A native of the Chicago suburbs now living in NYC, Ashley must make a choice! Wisely, she walks us through the pros and cons of the two great cities before telling us why she eventually escaped from Chicago. Ashley has been improvising since she was sixteen and returned to the Windy City after college to go through Second City’s Conservatory Program. Upon graduation from the Conservatory, Ashley felt that she was limited by the lack of accessibility found amongst Chicago’s various improv stages and soon stopped improvising. Ashley was drawn to NYC by its visual art scene and, lucky for us, she eventually found herself at Magnet. Though she was nervous to begin her first class after some time away from improv, she had the good fortune to study with instructor Nick Kanellis, big sib Hannah Chase, and a class full of wonderful fellow students.

Ashley talks about the fact that attempts at “diversity” often do not include disabled people and what the root causes of that problem might be. She also dives into the pressure she feels to educate the greater public and how the world needs adapt so that it can better serve not only disabled people but, indeed, everyone. She and Louis also talk about why representation matters so very much and how every time Ashley is on stage, she feels that she’s there, in part, for the disabled community.

There’s a bunch of other great stuff in this episode as well. Louis and Ashley discuss how great it feels to be “in on the joke,” allowing people to laugh with you rather than laugh at you, as well as the pain that comes with being laughed at. They talk about the limitless realm of possibility that improv allows us to command and they discuss how we adapt and get stronger by forcing ourselves to look at all parts of life, not merely the familiar bits, but those which make us uncomfortable as well. Finally, a Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles.

Wednesday April 5, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Perennial Magnet all-star, CHRISTIAN PALUCK, stops by to talk about his journey in comedy, being a more open person, and why he recently started drawing. From Emerson, to LA, to NYC, Christian brings a crapload of experience to the stage and insight to this episode. He and Louis dig into some great topics and, honestly, you’re gonna friggin’ love it. Huzzah!

After butchering the pronunciation of Christian’s last name, Louis wonders why we often freeze up when on the mic we are able to perform live in front of hundreds of people effortlessly. They explore this common occurrence and Christian explains why he doesn’t like anything that focuses on expectations. Louis asks Christian what he was doing before he got into improv and Christian tells of going to Emerson College for television production and then ending up in LA. He was introduced to formal improv by his college friend Anthony Atamanuik and eventually moved to NYC to take classes at Gotham City Improv and UCB. He tells of being challenged by a particular UCB class and then pausing from improv to go into stand-up. Eventually, he came back to improv after finding Armando Diaz’s “Instant Brilliance” class and he’s been at Magnet ever since.

Going from one journey to another, Louis asks Christian about being a father. How has having a kid changed how Christian manages embarrassment? He talks about quitting his day job to pursue acting full-time when he had a kid so that he could show his son that you have to follow your gut and fight for what you love. I mean, holy shit, right? This is great podcasting. Louis and Christian explore the overwhelming feeling that bubbles up when you can’t solve a major life problem and Christian talks about being a more open person and how improv can help you tap into that.

When coaching improv, Christian likes to focus on the balance between an improviser’s desire to act on instinct versus being polite, all while not being a jerk to your teammates. Our two heroes talk about how improv attracts a lot of smart people who maybe procrastinate too much and Christian wonders, “Why do billionaires worry about traffic?” They also discuss how Christian is perceived as a quiet, perhaps intimidating guy, though we all know he’s a big softy. Speaking of! Louis asks Christian about the drawings that he’s been working on! To round out the episode they ask the hard-hitting questions: What’s actually important to me? What do I really think is fucked up? And, am I brave enough to be judged for it? Good stuff, gents.

Wednesday March 22, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Comedian and rapper, KATY BERRY, talks with host Louis Kornfeld about performing with a chip on her shoulder, why Sexy Baby is so damn hot, and her hip-hop improv team, North Coast. They also discuss how their personal lives show up on stage, how Katy found herself doing comedy in NYC, and the importance of being a motherfucking role model. For anyone who hesitates to be themselves and tell the haters to go screw, this episode was made just for you, with love, from KBizzle herself. Do. Your. Thang.

When we asked Katy what she might want to discuss on the show, she said, “Saying ‘fuck the haters’ and slaying all day, every day” which proved to be a wonderful jumping-off point for the episode. We find out what exactly that means to Katy as she and Louis talk about putting the personal and private lives on stage for all to see. Katy feels as though she has something to prove as a performer and that it comes from her childhood, both parts of which we get into. A shock to no one who has seen both of them perform, Louis theorizes that he and Katy may deal with private matters in opposite ways! For Katy, it all ties into her resolve to never back down from being herself.

Katy considers herself very lucky to have been on three incredibly supportive, incredible teams who have all celebrated her approach to improv and allowed her voice to be heard, loudly. She shouts out Cool Blanche before getting into her current teams, Sexy Baby and North Coast. Louis asks Katy about Sexy Baby’s modus operandi and she boldly claims that fart jokes are the birth mother of all comedy. Katy tells us what Sexy Baby tends to focus on in practice and she provides us with a little bit of her own NYC-comedy origin story.

Of course, we can’t hear from Katy Berry and not discuss North Coast, her hip-hop improv team that is about to celebrate their eighth anniversary (this coming Friday)! Katy got onto the team after going to an open audition and tells us why it was not only a match made in Heaven, but maybe even fate. She talks about what goes through her head when doing scenes with North Coast and how the confidence gained doing hip-hop improv slips into her daily life. Katy and Louis both think that people who have never struggled have very little to offer us on stage and Louis has an epiphany on the mic! As a performer, Katy urges everyone to play fearlessly, to lead, and to be a role model when on stage. By simply being yourself, you allow others to be themselves too. Finally, Louis brings to light a very interesting point that we should all be keyed into and we end this episode with some excellent plugs. Want more on Katy? www.katyberrycomedy.com

Wednesday March 15, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Founding member of The Music Industry, DENNIS PACHECO, talks with host Louis Kornfeld about imposter syndrome, why TMI is so great, and how to turn judgment into love. As a performer on many different shows at the theater, both improv and sketch, but only one, long-lasting, and hilarious Megawatt team, Dennis brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the show. He and Louis dig into some great philosophical topics and tackle practical questions as well. CHECK. IT. OUT.

Our episode begins with Dennis disclosing that his imposter syndrome has him feeling nervous to be on the show. They discuss that feeling of, “Oh, that person probably hates me” and how we most likely overthink how others see us. Louis wonders if he’s being an asshole by not hanging out after shows but both he and Dennis agree that he’s probably not a jerk. Louis thinks of Dennis as a very precise improviser and Dennis shares that others have told him that he appears to improvise as someone who is both calm and nervous at the same time. Louis can relate to feeling that way and, in fact, Dennis admits that he sought to emulate Louis’ playing style when he was starting out. Fun fact: Louis does not recommend Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography!

Dennis and Louis discuss conscious versus unconscious reactions while improvising and Dennis offers some interesting insight from the book “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud. They also talk about stepping in at the right moment to say the perfect thing to bring the house down and, for sketch actors, helpful tips for remembering lines. Finally, they get to talking about Dennis’ long-running Megawatt team, The Music Industry. Dennis tells us why it’s such a killer team to play on and shares his excitement for their upcoming move to Thursday Night Out. He also discusses how they’ve moved from a team dynamic where they had what some might call “frontmen” to a setup now where everyone’s parts on the team feel balanced. He also talks about doing the Spokane and why the form works so well for them. To wrap up the episode, Dennis shares a great way to approach moves you don’t love. Hint: It involves letting go of judgment and transforming it into love. What a beautiful lesson to end on!

Wednesday March 8, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Self-made chillionaire, MOLLY KIERNAN, stops by to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about working in television, her experiences with group therapy, and befriending all kinds of different people. From bonding with her sister over comedy podcasts to producing an uplifting and hilarious show inspired by her own recovery from an eating disorder, we hear all about Molly’s career in comedy to date and so many other things in between. Listen to this episode and love yourself for it!

We begin the show by talking with Molly about her day job as a production assistant on Hulu’s “Difficult People”, how she found herself there after working on MTV’s “Broad City”, and what the gig is like day-to-day. Molly comments on the surprisingly friendly nature of a TV writers room and how comparing oneself to others can be both a positive and negative motivator. She also goes into her background working with non-profits and how she ended up in television.

Walking us through her leap into comedy, Molly describes bonding with her sister over podcasts and feeling drawn to comedy as more than just a fan. Louis wonders how many people sign up for their first improv class during some period of depression and they both reckon it’s probably a considerable portion. Molly shares with us the experience of her first improv classes and why she invited so many teens to her 25th birthday party. Though not a teen herself, Molly loves the opportunity to relate to a variety of people both on stage and off, and she and Louis discuss being elastic enough with our own lives to connect with others while improvising.

Molly’s ability to relate to many different people has been strengthened by her experience with group therapy, which she discusses at length. Of course, Louis has to ask if there is a connection between improv and group therapy and indeed, there may be. Both guest and host discuss the faulty logic in being drawn to external signifiers in others when it’s typically the internal aspects of our character that bond us most strongly. Molly and Louis also get to talking about “Molly’s Guilt Free Comedy & Ice Cream Social,” a show born out of her experience recovering from an eating disorder. They explore where the fear of being “bad” with food comes from and how to listen to your own body rather than the outside world’s judgments of it. Plus, they consider the imbalance between how much other people think about us versus how much *we think* they think about us. There’s a gap between what one puts out into the world and what other people truly perceive and both Molly and Louis dig into that as well. Lest you worry too much about the judgment of others, everyone is a great dancer, says Louis. And finally, the return of A Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles!

Wednesday March 1, 2017, 2:22am - by Magnet Theater

 

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.

Wednesday February 22, 2017, 10:22am - by Magnet Theater

 

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!

Wednesday February 15, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

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?

Meeting for the first time.

Wednesday January 25, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

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!)