dubstep remix
Skip to Content

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

Posts Tagged ‘magnet sketch teams’

Wednesday September 21, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

christopher-hastings-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Welcome back to the Magnet Theater Podcast! Louis took the summer off to backpack across Europe, rub elbows in the Hamptons, and finish planting his rooftop garden (his tan is looking GREAT). Now he’s back in the saddle with the prolific and charming Christopher Hastings, a writer/performer on the Magnet sketch team Student Council and the creator/writer/artist of many comic books such as Deadpool, Adventure Time, and The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. They discuss Chris’s origin story as a comic book writer and illustrator, how he found himself simultaneously in the world of comedy, and interestingly, why he eventually stopped improvising. PLUS! We debut two new segments: a two-person hotspot explosion and an improvised scene with a jar of pickles. Huzzah!!

Our heroes begin this episode talking about how Chris became the much-beloved comic book writer and illustrator he is today. He tells of attending the School of Visual Arts and his transition from being primarily an artist to being mostly a writer. Since creating his own, online, indie title (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja), Chris has worked his way to writing for Marvel, where he now authors titles such as the Unbelievable Gwenpool and Vote Loki. He discusses the differences between working for yourself versus at a major publisher and how to collaborate with artists as a writer. He also walks us through process of writing an issue of a comic and what’s demanded of a writer by both the form of comics books and their publishers. With so many projects orbiting his brain-box, Louis can’t help but ask what Chris’s busy schedule looks like and why the heck, on top of it all, does he also do comedy. Chris answers all of Louis’s inquiries and talks about how he got into (specifically) improv and why he later stepped away from it.

PLUS – Louis debuts his new hotspot segment “Getting to Know Each Other!” which features hockey, UCB, wizard beards, and corrective lenses.

DOUBLE PLUS – Louis debuts our new improvised segment! It involves a jar of pickles and you’re just going to love it.

IT’S GREAT TO BE BACK!!!

louis-chris-pickles

Tuesday August 23, 2016, 10:49am - by Magnet Theater

sketch teams logo

Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to The Executives, Dinosaur Jones, Student Council, and Stockton! Thanks to everyone who submitted and auditioned this round.

Here are your new teams:

*new to Magnet Sketch Teams!

THING #1 directed by Matt Alspaugh
Karina Sahlin* – Writer
Skyler Swezy* – Writer
Dmitry Shein – Writer
Nick Wiener* – Writer
Alyssa Lott* – Actor
Kourtni Beebe* – Actor
Chloe Lewis* – Actor
Keith Rubin* – Actor
Patrick Grizzard* – Writer/Actor
Kyle Levenick – Writer/Actor

THING #2 directed by Ari Miller
Everett Cox* – Writer
Corinne Brinkley* – Writer
Kristen Loe* – Writer
Gina Cucci* – Actor
Alexis Field* – Actor
Dana Moore* – Actor
Rob Webber – Writer/Actor
Joe Lepore – Writer/Actor
Michael McLarnon – Writer/Actor

more

Wednesday June 15, 2016, 5:41pm - by Magnet Theater

SketchTeamSubmissions_1920-1080_Generic_blog

The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2016 Fall/Winter Season of MAGNET SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from September 12th through Jan 30th! Applications are due by Monday, August 1st, at 5pm!

Please read the following application instructions and sketch team participant expectations very carefully – we’ve made some very big changes to the program. Got questions? Come to the Fall 2016 Sketch Team info sessions Wednesday, June 29th at 6pm at the TC.

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 7:30pm! 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 1:30-4:30pm 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 individual sketch team member is responsible for paying their director a flat rate of $12/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 Fall/Winter 2016 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!

WRITER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line, “2016 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 for 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 Fart Police has a performance rehearsal every Tuesday before a show, 7-10pm)

  • 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).

  • Equivalent sketch performing experience somewhere else! You must also provide a contactable reference who knows your work well.

PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

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

“2016 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, private, or unlisted – just be sure to send passwords if necessary and you may only send one link and the link itself may be no longer than 5 minutes.

You will be informed by Monday, September 8th, if you have been selected to audition in person. In-person auditions will be held on Friday, August 12th, and Saturday, August 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 2016 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 before hand 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) or equivalent experience somewhere else.

WRITER/PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

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

“2016 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 by Monday, August 8th, 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 sketch team. Double check your application!

All applications must be received by 5pm on Monday, August 1st!  

Wednesday March 23, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Devin O'Neill Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

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!!

Wednesday December 30, 2015, 9:27am - by Magnet Theater

Chrissie Gruebel Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

We couldn’t get enough of CHRISSIE GRUEBEL on stage, so we had her on the podcast to talk about improv, acting, & everything else. A darling of Megawatt’s Metal Boy, Friday Night Sh*w, and Magnet Sketch Teams, Chrissie sits down with Louis and regales him with tales from Philadelphia, New York, and the theater capitol of North America, Scranton. Chrissie is one of our favs and we just know you’re gonna love this episode. May she live forever online!

To begin this episode, Louis claims he knows nothing about Chrissie and Chrissie claims she doesn’t have a Long Island accent. You’ll have to tune in to find out that both of these are lies! more

Wednesday December 23, 2015, 7:00am - by Megan Gray

sketch teams logo

Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to The Executives, Dinosaur Jones, Student Council and Stockton! Thanks to everyone who submitted and auditioned this round.

Here are your new teams:

NEW TEAM APPLES directed by Matt Alspaugh
Chris Hastings – Writer/Performer
Rob Webber – Writer/Performer
Joe Lepore – Writer/Performer
Anna Neu – Performer
Chrissie Gruebel – Performer
Noel Salter – Performer
Brandon Lisy – Writer
Hayley Karl – Writer
Jesse Mudrick – Writer

NEW TEAM ORANGES directed by Ari Miller
Dennis Pacheco – Writer/Performer
Alex Stark – Writer/Performer
Angela Demanti – Writer/Performer
Kyle Levenick – Writer/Performer
Devlyn Corrigan – Performer
Dan Dobransky – Performer
Rebecca Acevado – Performer
Jordan Randolph – Writer
Michael McLarnon – Writer

more

Wednesday November 4, 2015, 6:50am - by Magnet Theater

SketchTeamSubmissions_1920-1080_Generic_blog

The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2016 Winter/Spring Season of SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from February 1st through July 11th! All applications are due by Wednesday, December 2nd at 8pm!

Please read the following application instructions and sketch team participant expectations very carefully – we’ve made some very big changes to the program. Got questions? Come to the Winter/Spring 2016 Sketch Team info sessions Wednesday, November 11th, &  November 18th at 6pm in room A at the Magnet Training Center!

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! In February, sketch team shows will be at 8:30pm. For the rest of the sketch season, shows will be at 7:30pm. 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 1:30-4:30pm 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 individual sketch team member is responsible for paying their director a flat rate of $12/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 Winter/Spring 2016 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).

WRITER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line, “2016 WINTER/SPRING MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION// WRITER // <YOUR NAME>”.

  • A cover letter detailing relevant sketch experience inside and outside the Magnet community.
  • 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 Fart Police has a performance rehearsal every Tuesday before a show, 7-10pm)

  • 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).

PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

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

“2016 WINTER/SPRING 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, private, or unlisted – just be sure to send passwords if necessary and you may only send one link and the link itself may be no longer than 5 minutes.

You will be informed by Monday, December 7th, if you have been selected to audition in person. In-person auditions will be held on Saturday, December 12th at the Magnet Training Center. Unfortunately, if you are not available on December 12th, you cannot be considered as a performer for the 2016 Winter/Spring 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 before hand 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,

“2016 WINTER/SPRING 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 by Monday, December 7th, 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 sketch team. Double check your application!

All applications must be received by 8pm on Wednesday, December 2nd!  

Wednesday October 14, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Kevin Cobbs Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Whoa, boy! Watch out now, because local southern gentleman and big juicy peach, KEVIN COBBS, sits down with host Louis Kornfeld on Episode #61 to talk about getting his start in Atlanta, being a musician, and his comedic love of stupidity. They talk about Kevin’s guides to New York, his experiences working for Second City, and what else, but being a college radio DJ. You can catch Kevin every Wednesday at Megawatt with The Music Industry and you ain’t gonna wanna miss this episode!

And the episode begins with a song of rebellion! Just kidding, folks. This episode starts off with Kevin talking about being from Atlanta, getting his start in comedy at Dad’s Garage, and moving to NYC in 2010. Although he thought New York was a nightmare when initially visiting, Kevin was still filled with wonder when he first moved here. Does he have a master plan for his career or does he just take things as they come? As Louis wades through questions related to career goals, he also finds that for Kevin, the creative process is all about collaboration.

They back up to talk once again about Kevin’s improv beginnings at Dad’s Garage in Atlanta and what the scene was like down there. We find out that, similar to Episode #60’s guest T.J. Mannix, Kevin was a graveyard-shift college radio DJ! Louis asks about Kevin & Jimmy’s Guide To New York and they discuss the awkwardness of doing comedy with the public. Where do Kevin’s comedic sensibilities come from and what’s he usually going for? Kevin answers these questions and talks about working with long-time buds Jimmy O’Connell and Al King.

Kevin has done two stints with Second City cruise line casts and so he and Louis get into what that life is like. Most recently, Kevin was doing 11 shows a week, which was far more intense than his first time around. The busier schedule was more enjoyable, he says. Louis wants to know what was the difference Kevin saw between his two experiences and they discuss the advice of, “You gotta be good even when you’re not.” Plus, so much is explained when we find out that Louis loves the Kardashians.

One thing is made clear, and that’s that Second City knows how to build a sketch show. Gaining such professional experience has helped Kevin become comfortable as a sketch director here at Magnet, where he has directed Wendigo and The Executives. Hear about Kevin’s approach to directing sketch and how he focuses on keeping a show moving.

Enjoy all of this, plus, we discover how far into his own future Kevin can see and we hear him speak briefly about his experiences writing for Sesame Street! Go Panthers!!!

Friday August 21, 2015, 12:03pm - by Magnet Theater

sketch teams logo

Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to Wendigo and Stockton! Thanks to everyone who submitted and auditioned this round!

Here are your new teams:

CAPTAIN CRUNCH directed by Kevin Cobbs
Willy Appelman – Actor
Andy Moskowitz – Actor
Evan Barden – Actor
Megan Meadows – Writer/Actor
Ari Miller – Writer/Actor
Elena Skopetos – Writer/Actor
Bryan Berlin – Writer
Christina Cola – Writer
Andy Mills – Writer

COUNT CHOCULA directed by Jana Schmieding
Jimmy O’Connell – Actor
Devin O’Neill – Actor
Catherine Montesi – Actor
Michael Delisle – Writer/Actor
Mike Dwyer – Writer/Actor
Sierra Pasquale – Writer/Actor
Joe DiBella – Writer
Molly Kiernan – Writer
Dmitry Shein – Writer

FRUITY PEBBLES directed by Rob Webber
Kate Koch – Actor
Chrissie Gruebel – Actor
Dan Dobransky – Actor
Lex Morales – Writer/Actor
Ingrid Ostby – Writer/Actor
Dennis Pacheco – Writer/Actor
Jesse Acini – Writer/Actor
Sara Marie Degni – Writer
Jesse Mudrick – Writer

COCOA PUFFS directed by Joe Lepore
Rich Rosario – Actor
Carly Monardo – Actor
Matt Alspaugh – Writer/Actor
Becca Schall – Writer/Actor
Jessica Taylor – Writer/Actor
Natalie Silverman – Writer
Hannah Wright – Writer
Ben Koch – Writer

New members of Stockton and Wendigo in bold:

WENDIGO directed by Branson Reese
Matt Antonucci
Jen Chuck
Chris Hastings
Kate Emswiler
Joe Lepore
Kyle Levenick
Adam Twitchell
Rob Webber
Charlie Nicholson
Geri Cole 

STOCKTON directed by Jesse Acini
Eli Itzkowitz
Diego Martinez
Michael Lutton
Will Quinn
Andrew Vulliemier
Phoebe Tyers
Matt Wassung
Ally Kornfeld
Christina Dabney

Monday July 13, 2015, 10:49am - by Magnet Theater

STEPH GARCIA – ON MOVING TO LA, WRITING COMEDY & BEING AN ASSISTANT ON A TV SHOW!

Steph__044 smallcopy

Comedy in New York:

Steph studied improv at the Magnet Theater through level 5, completed the sketch program, and performed on sketch teams: Alchemy, Colorado Dad and Dispacho.

She also performed on an indie improv team Gilda and on the sketch duo Firecracker, that made the web series White People Problems.

Current Comedy:

Performs weekly at the Nerdist with her improv team Pilgrim. Hosts an Entertainment Industry panel for women at the Nerdist School with fellow teammate Lindsey Barrow. Co-hosts a monthly all female mix-em-up improv show called Girl on Lady Action with Maura Ruth. She also recently wrote a web series and pilot, with Dave Warth over Skype and they are in post production of their first episode.

All while working as a writer’s PA on Selfie and now ABC’s The Catch.


 

How long have you been in LA?

It will be two years in October.

How does the improv scene there compare to NY?

There is just as much opportunity in LA, I just feel like it’s more spread out, and, for me, it’s a little more difficult to do. I remember jumping theater to theater in New York and here it’s different because you have a car and you have to drive and park. But there are a lot of indie theaters.

Do people tend to be members of a few different theaters or do they stick to one?

No there’s a lot of crossover here. It’s the same as in New York.

Are you primarily a writer, improviser or a sketcher?

Right now I am primarily a writer. I do perform weekly, but I’m not auditioning. I’m working on writing for TV. I got a manager out here and so I’m working on having some samples that are more TV. They have all my sketches and they have been using them to pitch, and I’m working right now with Nerdist to get the video production side up. And I’m actually hoping to get live sketch up at the Nerdist as well. I just love sketch so much, but in terms of having something to make a living off of, I want to write TV so you need to have good samples.

How hard is it now to pitch to sketch shows that are currently on the air? Do you have to know people on them?

Yeah, and that seems to be the case in general. You can still get hired off your samples and stuff, but it always helps to know somebody. I’ve gotten my last two jobs because of recommendations from people.

How did you know people in LA?

My cousin is a set designer and he worked with somebody who was working on Raising Hope at the time, and she invited me to set, which was freaking amazing, and I met the production coordinator on that. That production coordinator happened to get hired on the pilot of Selfie and gave me a chance. So for two weeks I was working on the pilot and I spoke to everybody and said ‘I want to write!’ and so when the time came around for the show, the showrunner’s assistant who was working on the pilot asked if I wanted to interview for the writer’s PA gig. And from that, the director of that pilot also directed The Catch pilot, so her assistant forwarded my resume on.

I’ll come back to your jobs, but first tell us about your writing process.

I like deadlines, so if it’s something like a writer’s program or festival deadline, that’s what feeds me. So it depends. I’ll sit on an idea for a year, and I won’t do anything with it until I see – ‘oh, someone will actually look at this.’ And I’ll sit and I’ll write it in two weeks. I don’t know why I do that, and it’s not good and no one should do that.

Do you ever set your own deadlines or does it have to be external?

I have on occasion, but it’s usually – ‘this festival deadline is this week, so my deadline is a week and a half before.’ It’s not a way to live. Don’t do it that way.

[Just now – Steph gets a pizza delivered. AND she doesn’t eat it until the end of the interview. Obviously displaying some extraordinary mental toughness required to gain writing chops in LA.]

How did you get a manager?

I have a friend of mine who I knew in New York who is an actress. She started her own production company and produced two shorts that went to some festivals, and so when I came out here, she said ‘give me sketches’. And I said ‘here you go.’ We shot some stuff, and then someone I met through her was a manager, and at the time I guess, not that I wasn’t looking – I love acting, but I came out here because I knew there was more opportunities for writing than in New York. And then when I did the CBS Diversity showcase I ran into her again, and they were opening a literary division at their management company. She said just come and meet with us and see if you like the team, so I met the team and they’re now repping me.

What did you have to send them?

I sent them so much stuff. I think I sent them an original pilot and a Bob’s Burgers spec. Then they were like ‘great, send us more stuff’, so I sent them a bunch of sketches and I sent another pilot and some shorts that I’ve written.

What I’ve heard the trend is now is to have an original pilot and if someone likes that, then they want that spec to see if you can write in somebody else’s voice.

How long does it take you to write an original pilot?

It depends. The last pilot I wrote took me two and a half weeks. But technically if you add all the time I’d been sitting on it and thinking of the story, at that point I had all the beats in my head before I sat down and started writing.

Do you show people your work? Do you have a writer’s group?

I have a writers group and then I have some other people that I bother. You can’t be precious with your writing. And that’s another thing that being on a sketch team at the Magnet definitely helped me out with, you just can not be precious with your writing.

When I’m really working on something I’ll sit down for 2 – 3 hours at a time and knock out what I can.

You mentioned Russ Armstrong was a memorable sketch director. Was there anything you learned from him that you think about today?

Russ has a really good work ethic and my favorite thing I learned from him was about keeping everything succinct and short and your jokes being real clear and not having any of that junk around it, because it just muddles the joke.

What do you mean by work ethic?

He was fantastic at giving notes and really tried to get us to memorize our sketches and then run them and run them, always e-mailing and being supportive but also saying ‘we have to get our stuff up’ and ‘does everybody have their things.’ He was always present at the meetings. Always ready to give feedback and ready to keep it moving and make sure we got as much as we could from every meeting. There wasn’t a lot of messing around, which can happen when you have a group of writers together.

You currently work as a writer’s PA. How is a writer’s PA different from a writer’s Assistant?

A writer’s assistant and a script co-ordinator, depending on the show, overlap some. A writer’s assistant generally takes notes in the room, and then because you’re (hopefully) writing down everything everybody is saying, at the end of the day you have to organize it, and so depending on the show a lot of the time the script coordinator and the assistant, they’ll kind of swap off that duty. And once the scripts come out, you’re also responsible for proofing the script and making sure that everyone gets the newest version of the script and that you’re not messing that up, and you’re also making sure there’s no typos. And then on my last job they were also dealing with intellectual property stuff. So if you want a song in there you have to deal with that too. As a writer’s PA – lunch is my biggest duty. I mean, it’s like food. It’s really a lot of food. Lunch, the kitchen, coffee. You also handle the paper and office supplies. Once scripts get going then you’re responsible for distributing the scripts. On Selfie though, because it was such a social media based show, I got to help write some things like fake yelp reviews. I also got a tweet on the show with my twitter handle, that I wrote – so that was really cool – those little things where I got to pepper in creativity.

Does everyone assume that as a writer’s PA or Assistant, you want to be a writer?

The assumption is there, and depending on the staff, both my staffs have been amazing, they’ll ask you what do you write? what’s your genre? Who do you like, what shows do you like?

Do you find writing pilots hard?

Oh yeah. Well you know what’s difficult is that balance between introducing all your characters, but also having a compelling story, because you don’t just want an episode of ‘here’s all the people you will be seeing for the rest of the season.’ There needs to be a contained story within it.

Do you get to see how much influence the showrunner has in a writer’s room and on breaking story? And does that relate to how our sketch directors are at the Magnet?

Yeah – it’s an interesting process because everything does go through them, but both showrunners that I’ve seen are very open – I mean it’s so much of a collaboration of the room, and basically what happens is you break a story, and then it’s one person’s episode so they really get to write it and then they bring it back and then you all edit it together. But then there’s this other person not in the room, that’s the studio, and that’s where the showrunner comes in. They have to go and say – ‘here’s the story we have.’ And then they get notes like ‘Oh we don’t like this, we do like this, can this be like this,’ and then the showrunner has to bring that back to the room.

Please eat pizza if you are hungry.

That’s one fun perk about being a writer, there is so much food, so you eat all day long.

How many hours do you pull a day?

The hours really depend on the show. Both shows that I’ve worked for have been pretty great with their hours. But there are others that the writers will work on until, like, midnight.

What would be your dream tv show to write on at the moment.

I have two. Last Man On Earth, and Veep.

You’re a dart champion?

Oh yeah! I was. We used to play darts in NY. I was in a league, it was every Monday night and I did that for about seven years. And I really miss it. I love this business and I love writing, but to have something that’s completely outside with a bunch of people that don’t give a shit, it’s really nice.

Last Question. What things did you wish you’d known before you moved to LA?

Unless you come out here already with rep or already with some big credits under your name, no one will really appreciate what you did in New York. And it’s a really hard thing to accept. Especially when you first get out here. Someone I know was on Broadway who came out – and it just didn’t translate. It’s something that you have to accept. And there are a lot of people here from New York, so you’re not totally starting at zero, but it’s definitely like taking two steps backwards. So that was the biggest thing for me. And you kind of accept it and you don’t have a chip on your shoulder and just keeping on working, people will recognize it, and eventually people who work with you will be like – ‘oh you’ve done all these things?’

And the other thing is parking sucks. Always give yourself 15-20 minutes just for parking wherever you’re going.

Thanks Steph! We wish you luck! You may now eat the pizza.

Interview conducted by Ally Kornfeld for Magnet Theater.

12