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

Posts Tagged ‘magnet sketch teams’

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

 

Writer, performer, and avid footballer, LORENA RUSSI, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about making the world a better, more evolved place through comedy and how old they both feel. Lorena and Louis discuss how people often put others in easy-to-recognize boxes, why slower comedy appeals to them more, and Lorena’s experience writing for The Kat Call on YouTube. Tune in to hear them shake hands at the end!

Our episode kicks off with Louis mispronouncing Lorena’s name, but it’s okay because it leads to a great conversation on identity and the importance of her name. Sorry, Louis – there’s no going back! Lorena describes her frustrations improvising as an “alpha female […] masculine center” person which gets them talking about how people very quickly and commonly put others into the most readily recognizable boxes available. Lorena touches on the common occurrence of having to be everyone’s source of information and how it can be exhausting to constantly explain things to people.

Lorena and Louis discuss improv as sport versus improv as theater and which parts of each tend to produce humor. Find out why Lorena prefers watching slower shows and why it’s harder for her to enjoy improv shows these days. Our heroes get to talking about entertainment overload and how digital platforms simultaneously wear us out and provide a higher level of accessibility to performers of color than ever before. Lorena calls out Master of None for not being very good and Louis calls the internet the cigarette of our generation. Wow. Hot takes all around! Contrasting the rapidity of the internet, Lorena and Louis chat about needing time to process things, a conversation that involves acknowledging sadness, using power words, and not allowing “darkness of the soul” to creep in too much.

Talking about Lorena’s experience writing for The Kat Call, we hear about what a great environment it was to work in and how it was a part of an overall arc within Lorena’s comedy career of asking the question, “What are we trying to say?” After mentioning how old she feels for the third or fourth time, Lorena wonders how she might accomplish being less angry at the world. Stay tuned for further critiques and assessments on social media! She and Louis also tackle the concept of playing flawed characters on stage and how there is a responsibility to make sure the audience knows they’re flawed. This leads to discussing the responsibilities of making the world a better, more evolved place in general, but particularly for communities that are threatened. We almost go down a Trump rabbit hole, but pull up just in time! Louis says something mysterious and cool: that we have to “grieve the result of our nightmares.”

Finally, our host and wonderful guest attempt to end this episode on a positive note, but you’ll have to listen to see how they do. And of course, Evan takes a picture of Lorena and Louis for social media purposes!

Thursday July 13, 2017, 10:03am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Kristen Loe

Which team or show are you on?

Trouble Town

Where are you from?

New Jersey

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I grew up watching comedy but other than some comedy videos I would make as a kid, I didn’t write or perform much. When I moved to NYC, a friend convinced me to take an improv class and I was hooked. I’ve been steadily depleting my bank account in the name of comedy ever since.

How long have you been performing/writing?

About four years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

This is a hard one to narrow down! Tina Fey, Amy and David Sedaris, Donald Glover, the cast of Monty Python, and George Saunders. I did a poor job narrowing this down.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Dr Leo Spaceman from 30 Rock.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

I love a high status idiot. I also will never say no to watching an epic fail video compilation.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

A good mix of classic rock, rap, punk for nostalgia, and unabashedly some Pitbull because damn, he can crank out a good summer jam.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Do you have a dog? If so, can I play with your dog?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

I know it sounds both lame and cliché, but probably at home watching a show or reading a book in bed.

If you could make up an AOL Instant Messenger-esque acronym (G2G, BRB, LOL, etc.) that would apply to you, what would it be?

AOL acronym: LOF – let’s order fries 😎

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

 

Chillionaire and youthful human, ADAM PASULKA, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about cruise ship comedy, why hosting the Mixer is such a joy, and his recent brain surgery. We also hear about Adam’s circuitous path to becoming an entertainer, how he met his hometown girlfriend hundreds of miles away, and theories on coaching improv. Ready? Set. Listen!

We begin this episode talking about improv jams and Adam’s recent takeover of the Wednesday Mixer hosting duties. Louis gives us a little history of the Magnet Mixer and they discuss what makes jams horrible and what can make them great. One thing they both value for sure is learning-by-doing with other people of various experience levels. Before we go any further, we back up to find out where Adam comes from and how he got into improv and comedy. A native of the Chicago area, Adam studied art and psychology at NYU Gallatin before running a youth-culture magazine for fives years. Like so many, he found himself taking an improv class and simply got the bug for it. After working his way through classes at UCB and Magnet, Adam made his way onto a Second City cruise ship cast, performing improv and sketch comedy for the masses at sea!

With Louis having also done a stint on a Second City cruise, both he and Adam are able to dive into talking about the type of comedy and the type of people you see on the cruise ships and what life is like for the workers on those ships. They also talk about magicians and the different types of stand-up comedians on cruise ships, offering strong praise for the great Jeff Harms. Additionally, Adam shares the story of how he met his girlfriend on the ship and how they were connected even before they’d ever met.

Back to the present day, Adam and Louis talk about coaching improv, a topic near and dear to Adam’s heart. They reflect on working with a team as a coach and about the other side, from the improviser’s point of view. Louis likens the process of finding the right coach to dating and they lament over the difficulty of breaking up with both coaches and teams.

Finally, Adam talks about his recent brain surgery and his overall health (which, if you’re already concerned, is a-okay). He walks us through the experience of having a seizure, discovering that he had a fairly large mass in his brain, and getting it removed a few months later. It’s quite the tale and we can hardly believe he’s back on stage, delighting audiences with his wit and performance, so soon after doctors messed with his brain. Hats of to Adam and cheers to his good health!!

Thursday June 29, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Bailey Swilley

Which team or show are you on?

Just Karen

Where are you from?

Memphis

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

After I’d been living in the city for about a year, my dad said, “Didn’t you say you were going to sign up for an improv class? Well, when is it?” Then, I went through the improv and sketch programs at UCB, respectively, and then really got into musical improv for a while. #taglinesongs

How long have you been performing/writing?

Performing in some capacity since high school. Writing sketch for about three years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

I really love Casey Wilson… and Jenny Slate. And Billy Eichner! Wait, maybe these are just people I want to be friends with.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

I do a great Lauren Bacall impression from her “Fancy Feast” commercial (you know the one). I’d love to write for Amy Sedaris. What a genius.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Sketches so based in reality that it makes the writers’ room and audience super uncomfortable.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Broadway bangerzzzz.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

“Do you know where the bathroom is?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

Stuffing my face with papaya salad & dumplings.

Which actor/actress would play you in a biopic about your life?

Mandy Moore… probably?

Wednesday June 28, 2017, 6:34am - by Magnet Theater

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.

Wednesday June 21, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

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The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that starting July 14th, we will be accepting applications for the 2017 Fall/Winter Season of MAGNET SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from September 11th, 2017 – February 2018! Applications are due by Friday, August 4th, at 5 pm!

Please read the following application instructions and sketch team participant expectations very carefully.

GENERAL SKETCH SHOW EXPECTATIONS

  • Each team will create one 20-25 minute sketch show every three to four weeks.

  • All sketch team shows will be on Monday nights at 7:30 pm! Two teams will perform in each show.

  • All sketch team shows must contain new, original material written specifically for Magnet Sketch Night that has never been previously performed.

  • Each show will contain the best material created for the team as selected by the director – there is no guarantee that every writer will get a sketch in each show or that every actor will be featured in each show. Funny wins. Them’s the breaks.

  • All sketches will be performed by the team’s ensemble cast of sketch actors. If a particular sketch requires it, the team may use outside casting (writers, other actors) at the director’s discretion.

GENERAL SKETCH TEAM EXPECTATIONS

  • Sketch team members are expected to attend all required meetings and shows and arrive fully prepared. Sketch is time intensive – make sure you can commit 100% and make sketch a priority before applying.

  • Sketch team members must be available 1:30-4:30 pm the Sunday before their show for a mandatory tech rehearsal at the theater.

  • Sketch team members may not schedule conflicting appointments (work, rehearsals, shows, etc) during scheduled techs, shows, rehearsals, or meetings.

  • Sketch teams must rehearse with a Magnet-approved director. Each sketch team is responsible for paying their director a flat rate of $110/week; team due collection is left to the discretion of the director and team (as it would be for an improv team or practice group).

  • Sketch team members are expected to promote their shows at the theater.

For the 2017 Fall/Winter Sketch Season, you must apply as a writer, performer, or a writer/performer. Expectations, prerequisites, and application instructions for each role are below!

WRITER EXPECTATIONS

  • Writers must attend one 3 hour writing meeting per week, all performance rehearsals of their sketches, and all tech rehearsals.

  • Writers must constantly generate new material and are required to bring in a minimum of one new sketch per week, even during show week.

  • Writers are expected to be respectful and gracious collaborators in writing room. Writers should give and receive feedback to and from their teammates in an open and constructive manner.

  • Writers will be required to rewrite material and meet deadlines as requested by their director.

WRITER  PREREQUISITES

  • Completion of (or current enrollment in) Magnet Sketch Writing Level 2 or previous participation on a Magnet Sketch team (as any role).

  • Equivalent sketch writing experience somewhere else with a contactable reference (email address).

WRITER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line, “2017 FALL/WINTER MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION// WRITER // <YOUR NAME>”.

  • A cover letter detailing relevant sketch experience inside and outside the Magnet community.
  • If your comedy experience is mostly outside of the Magnet Theater, you must provide the email address of a reference.
  • A single PDF of a sketch writing sample. Your sample should contain at least two sketches and may not exceed 10 pages.

PERFORMER EXPECTATIONS

  • Performers must be available for a regularly scheduled 2-3 hour performance rehearsal the week leading up to the show (ex: Sketch Team Dumb Baby has a performance rehearsal every Tuesday before a show, 7-10 pm)

  • Performers must be available for techs, table reads, and any additional rehearsals as required by the director.

  • Performers must learn all show material in a timely manner.

  • Performers may collaborate with writers outside of rehearsals to help create characters and sketches, but performers should not be writing material on their own for shows.

  • Performers must perform sketches as they are written – ad libbing is good in a pinch, but be prepared and don’t put yourself in positions where you must resort to improvisation. Be polished and professional in all shows.

PERFORMER PREREQUISITES

  • Completion of or current enrollment in Level 6 team performance workshop, participation in a past or current Megawatt team, or previous participation in a Magnet Sketch Team (as any role).

  • If your comedy experience is mostly outside of the Magnet Theater, you must provide the email address of a reference.

PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line,

“2017 FALL/WINTER MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION// PERFORMER // <YOUR NAME>”

  • A cover letter detailing relevant performance experience inside and outside the Magnet community.

  • A headshot

  • A PDF of your acting resume

  • A SINGLE link to a 3-5 minute sample of your work as a performer. This can be a reel, a recording of a stage sketch, a video sketch, a monologue directed at a webcam, anything you feel showcases you as a comedic performer. Youtube or Vimeo preferred. The link can be public or unlisted – please no private links. You may only send one link and the link itself may be no longer than 5 minutes.

You will be informed at least five days prior if you have been selected to audition in person.

In-person auditions will be held on August 11th, 12th, and 13th at the Magnet Training Center. Unfortunately, if you are not available for the above callback dates, you cannot be considered as a performer for the 2017 Fall/Winter Sketch Season.

For the in-person audition, you will perform two contrasting sketches that will be assigned to you and another applicant a couple days prior to the audition. You must be completely off-book and you may rehearse beforehand with your scene partner, at your discretion. You will also be asked to cold read sketches in the room.

WRITER/ PERFORMER EXPECTATIONS

  • Writer/performers must meet all writer expectations AND performer expectations.

  • Writer/performers are expected to write for other performers as well as for themselves. There is no guarantee that a writer/performer will perform in all of their own work.

WRITER/PERFORMER PREREQUISITES

  • Writer/performers must meet all writer AND performer prerequisites or previous participation on a Magnet Sketch team (as any role).

WRITER/PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line,

“2017 FALL/WINTER MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION// WRITER/PERFORMER // <YOUR NAME>”

  • All materials detailed in writer application instructions.

  • All materials detailed in performer application instructions.

  • Also, please indicate if you are willing to be considered as a writer or actor ONLY if you are not selected for a writer/performer position. Be completely honest – your preferences will not be held against you!

You will be informed at least five days prior if you have been selected to audition in person. See performer application instructions above for more info about the audition.

Failure to follow application instructions will keep you from being considered for a sketch team. Double check your application!

All applications must be received by 5 pm on Friday, August 4th!  

Thursday June 8, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Alex Braslavsky

Which team or show are you on?

The Nitro Girls (Sketch) and Hot Charles (Megawatt)

Where are you from?

Baltimore, MD

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I remember as a kid, I thought my dad was the funniest guy in the world. He would tell these jokes and get huge laughs. My impression was that that’s the way to make people love you. Fast forward to today, and I’ve been doing improv and sketch for a little while, and now I can safely say that I’m way funnier than my dad. Take that, old man!!

How long have you been performing/writing?

A few years!

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Scene Partner– Marina Abramovic
Writing Partner– Charlie Kaufman

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Larry David

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Mr Bean

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Doves’ “Lost Souls” in its entirety.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Do you think we could become close friends?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

Networking on LinkedIn, baby!

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I can shake my eyeballs. Ask me in person next time and I’ll show ya.

Thursday May 25, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Duaa Osman

Which team or show are you on?

Chillionaire

Where are you from?

Sudan & Ohio

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

A complete accident. I’ve always done stand-up and I’ve written short comedy stories but I didn’t get into improv until I moved to New York 4 years ago and then got into sketch shortly after. Needless to say, I feel I’ve been deprived of a very essential part of my life. I blame my parents.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I’ve always been the class clown in school so I guess that counts as a performance. Writing was something that I enjoyed doing since I was a kid but I would say I wasn’t actively in comedy (writing and performing) until 5 years ago.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Writing partners: Donald Glover, Aaron Sorkin and Emma Thompson. Scene partner: Sylvester Stallone because I can’t understand a word he says and I like a challenge.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

I would like to impersonate Sarah Palin for obvious reasons. Or a pilot. I would love to write for Trevor Noah, Jane Austen, and most recently, Jordan Peele. Or any show that will pay me to have the honor. Seriously, pay me.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

British comedy panel shows. They’re so funny, I almost forget all about colonialism.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

I don’t like music so this is a tough one. Do podcasts count? I would say a melodic mashup of 2 Dope Queens, The Nerdist, and NPR. Oh and Blink-182 just to have something classical.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Can I guess what your name is based solely on how you look? It’s important to note, based on this question, that I don’t make a lot of great first impressions.

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

You can’t find me. I lock myself indoors doing absolutely nothing because Saturday nights are for not working and not making plans. I just stay home, either writing screenplays or playing video games and hope there isn’t a fire that will force me to go outside and talk to people. Or perhaps at an open-mic. You’ll never know!

What would you name your boat if you had one?

I would name my boat Oprah so people would be fooled into getting on, thinking I could heal their problems.  THAT is how you throw a boat party when you have very few friends.

 

Thursday May 18, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Amy Lynne Berger

Which team or show are you on?

The Nitro Girls

Where are you from?

Naperville, IL.

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I’m certainly one of those kids who grew up watching SNL – but even more than that, I watched sitcoms that highlighted funny women and they made it look so easy! Watching Lucille Ball, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Fran Drescher, and Christina Applegate DAILY certainly pushed me in the direction of comedy. I went to NYU Tisch and got to train in being a ~serious~ actor, which I LOVE, but it also felt very self-indulgent and lonely at a certain point. As soon as I graduated, I decided to sign up for improv and sketch to mix things up and I completely fell in love with the supportive group dynamic of it all!

How long have you been performing/writing?

I’ve been acting since the age of 4 when I played a Cuban Orphan on The Untouchables TV Show! I’ve only been seriously doing comedy/writing for about 3.5 years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s perfect. I think I could play her daughter and am available to do so.
I also would love to write with Mindy Kaling – I think we’d understand all of each other’s pop culture references.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

I would love to impersonate Jessie J because she is absurdly cool and it would mean I had the best vocals in the world. I would love to write for Steve Carrell!

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Watching Tami Sagher. She’s another person I would love to work with as a scene/writing partner. I have a big comedy crush on her because she has a way of making me laugh harder than I ever have and then cry because of her groundedness and honesty…. and then laugh AGAIN for good measure given it’s a comedy show.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

It’s a LOT of musical theatre…but then mixed with some powerhouse vocalists like Jessie J (especially her acoustic stuff), Adele, and Christina, followed by rap when I’m needing a good pump up walking down those NYC streets (I’m looking at you “Rap God”), followed by more pop (because who am I kidding) – I love me some classic Usher, Black Eyed Peas, Britney, and Spice Girls, and then topped with fan favorites like The Beatles and The Beach Boys!

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

“What’s your favorite food?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

It’s safe to assume I’m in Astoria eating penne alla vodka from Napoli Pizza & Pasta watching SNL with my B41 fam!

What was your favorite toy growing up?

My Baby Simba stuffed animal.

 

Thursday May 4, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Melanie Rubin

Which team or show are you on?

Astro Tramps & Captains

Where are you from?

Bucks County, PA

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

My college had a really great improv troupe. I was too busy with cooler things like acapella and being an RA, so I never tried it. Two years post-grad I was like, “Hey Mel? Remember that thing you were too scared I mean too busy to try? Looks like there’s a free intro you can take. Do it Mel! Do it!” I listened to Mel.

How long have you been performing/writing?

Since 7pm on January 5th, 2015. You wanted me to be that specific, right?

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Fey/Poehler

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Wiig/Rudolph

What makes you laugh the hardest?

When people break on stage, blooper reels, people who get really amped up giving clues while playing Taboo

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Singer-songwriter types with some sweet, sweet harmonies to start (Sara Bareilles, Good Old War, First Aid Kit), followed by some early 2000s pop-punk types (New Found Glory, Paramore, Fall Out Boy), with a nice helping of powerhouse ladies (Whitney, Beyonce, Alanis), and a sprinkle of showtunes.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Come here often?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

If I’m not doing or watching improv, I’m probably at a broadway show or hanging with my new puppy or eating my weight in sushi.

Who’s your celebrity crush?

Ben Schwartz