Posts Tagged ‘magnet theater podcast’
Actor and comedian, KEISHA ZOLLAR, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss the role of comedians in society, why she hates revenge stories, and the issue with overly dramatic art. Not only that, but they get to talking about how we give too much energy to our lizard brains and urge everyone out there to show your weird! This is our final episode of the season, but we’ll see you again in September. From all of us to all of you, thanks so much for listening and huzzah!
Our fabulous guest and intrepid host begin this episode laying out the three or four types of bad, real-world comedy and note that the bully flavor of “funny” still persists, despite how god-awful it is. Keisha posits that perhaps we, as comedians, need to rally a bit more against bullies and the behavior they propagate. She also says that Louis has “an intense face” and Louis seems to agree. They talk about being “on” all the time and how common folks expect comedians to behave day-to-day. They get into the role of comedians in society and the responsibilities that comedians and other creators take on by assuming the mantel. Such a conversation would be incomplete without mentioning identity politics and how the comedian’s ultimate job is to disrupt norms.
Pivoting like a member of Trump’s cabinet, Louis attempts to take a positive lesson away from the current hot mess that is the world around us. Keisha wisely points out that, growing up, no one ever told us why democracy could be bad, reminding us that every tool is also a weapon. She relates that she often feels we give too much energy to our lizard brain and not enough to our frontal lobe, which allows us to reason.
Speaking of lizard brains, Keisha tells us why revenge stories don’t entertain her and why one of her favorites movies is Requiem For A Dream. She and Louis show appreciation for feeling your feelings in-the-moment, including the negative feelings like anger and sadness. Speaking further on this, Keisha shares a bit about her lifelong experience of recurring illness and living with an invisible disability, something she brings up to highlight the fact that it’s not all negative – there are positives of that life experience and the perspective it gives her is invaluable. This sparks their both Louis and Keisha’s qualms with art that is overly dramatic, art that lacks the light we know to be present. As our episode comes to an end, we are reminded that the beauty of improv is that we are encouraged to show our weird, to show our uniqueness. Everyone has something. Accept your weird.
And finally, our host and guest share this special message with us, as we say goodbye to Season 3 of the Magnet Theater Podcast:
Go stare at a tree!
Daughter of the wind, KEILANA DECKER, joins our host Louis Kornfeld in episode #125 of the Magnet Theater Podcast. The two dig deep into the topic of “having fun” and the trouble they both have with it. Both of them share their appreciation for fellow Magnet personality Charlie Nicholson – including a hilarious story involving Charlie’s toothbrush – and as always, we learn about different improv tricks and strategies from Louis and Keilana alike.
At the beginning of the episode, Keilana reveals that she has prepared for this recording by listening to other episodes of the podcast and fears that she will simply regurgitate dialogue she’s already heard. Keilana tells us about going home to Chico, CA recently and she and Louis chat about going home to see their parents and how belittling it can feel.
Speaking of home, Keilana talks about leaving hers and coming to NYC to do improv. At first, she was so intrigued and confused by how these experienced improvisers were able to have fun while performing and Louis connects with Keilana over the idea of having a hard time “having fun” on stage. Louis draws a line in the sand and says that he doesn’t like fun because “fun is cheap.” Our host and guest digress a bit, admitting that there is a benefit in allowing yourself to being exposed in front of people who are in a position of accepting and supporting you. Keilana talks about the different levels of exposure, giving the example of how she felt like she wasn’t able to tell improv teammates if and when she didn’t feel good about her performance. Tangents aside, Keilana and Louis circle back around to the topic of having fun and Louis provides the following analogy: “I love dancing – except when there are other people around doing it.”
Louis talks about a book he is reading that explores how different people deal with their wounds: people who use their wounds to better themselves and people who give into their wounds – the “born losers.” Our two heroes realize that they are both people who don’t like the excessive amount of attention improv necessitates, but who love the art form nonetheless. Louis describes improv as airing out your wounds publicly (for about 20 minutes) and they both relate to how scary and empowering that can be.
We hear about Keilana’s newest love: spontaneous one-person applause. She tells us about her appreciation for the recognition in the one person who is willing to clap by themselves, which means more than simply laughing along with everyone else, of which she says, “You can laugh because you don’t understand something.” Of this kind of bold self-expression, Keilana is reminded of her appreciation for Charlie Nicholson (her Bodywork team member). She talks about a fun game he plays by hiding his toothbrush around her apartment when he stays over. Louis describes Charlie as a person who is willing to try out something new, that hasn’t been done, just to see what happens with it.
To round out the episode, Keilana and Louis discuss how a really good scene just requires one “yes, and,” how improv helps us harness the childlike wonder we’ve forgotten about, and why cleverness has a habit of ruining improv scenes. Plus, Louis describes a dream he thinks everyone has had (no one has) and Keilana builds a beautiful metaphorical firework.
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.
AVALANCHE performer and Magnet house manager, ALEX KORNFELD, joins his brother Louis to discuss his improv evolution, getting onto Megawatt, and going back to basics. They take no time getting to know each other on this episode and jump right into talking improv. This is likely your only chance to hear two brothers from Staten Island with the last name Kornfeld talk about improv on a podcast! Huzzah!
To start things off, Alex shares an analogy he’s be thinking about a lot, but not without digressing for a minute or two. He and Louis talk about his experience of not getting onto Megawatt right away and then backing up to how he got his start at Magnet in the first place. After years of dodging the press, Alex finally addresses what it was like to be Louis’ younger brother as he began taking improv classes. He describes going through the Magnet improv program and when he felt like Megawatt was a possibility. What’s Alex’s advice on making a great improv team? Have fun fucking with each other! Louis also asks Alex what it’s been like facing the expectations that come with Megawatt and what it feels like now that he’s been doing it for a while. Alex talks about taking the coaching class with Armando and he asks about his older brother about becoming a teacher. They discuss the benefits of going back to basics and the beauty of Level 1 exercises. Plus, they ask the important question: as people living in a big city, can we afford to not learn from our mistakes?
Actor, director, and Queen of Illinois, KRISTINA GROSSPIETSCH, joins us to talk about her time spent in France, why Freeze Tag sucks, and authenticity on stage. Growing up as a theater-obsessed child and ultimately landing in good old NYC, Kristina shares the story of how she got here and muses on improv, comedy, and interpersonal communication. See Kristina perform each week at Megawatt with Bodywork and listen to her talk with Louis right now!
Louis launches into this episode asking Kristina about her time spent teaching English in rural France. She tells of making up her teaching methods on the fly to see what stuck with her elementary school students. Kristina fondly recalls the ample idle time she enjoyed while living there and wonders if we really need everything New York has to offer, or if we’re better off with simply a good bar, a good friend, and a job to satisfy us?
Although raised outside of Chicago, Kristina did not take her first improv class until 2012 after landing back in NYC following her French sojourn. Growing up, it was all theater, baby! Kristina talks about her heavy involvement in the local musical theater scene around Chicago and then hits us with a HUGE takedown of the classic improv game Freeze Tag. (It’s warranted, folks!) She also admits to being an overachiever and how that has hampered her ability recognize exactly what she’ll be best at in art and life. Plus, Louis and Kristina attempt to answer the hard-hitting question: Can you avoid messing up your kids?
In the back half of the episode, we find out what convinced Kristina to ultimately give improv a try and she tells us about the experience of diving into a new artform. Louis taps into Kristina’s love of authenticity on stage and asks, given her Megawatt teams’ penchant for the theatrical, what has it been like to attempt authenticity within those heightened atmospheres? They also explore the observation that people with anxiety seem drawn to improv and Kristina and Louis have a major communication breakthrough of their own! To close out the episode, Louis spins a beautiful metaphor and Kristina talks about the Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival, which she is producing, coming to you this March! (Submissions are open now!)
Warm-blooded baby of sex, WILL JACOBS, drops by to talk about his foray into playwrighting, being malleable on stage, and how to provide balance on a team. A comedy quadruple-threat, Will can be seen performing on Magnet shows like Musical Megawatt, Megawatt, and The Friday Night Sh*ow; in schools all over the city with the Story Pirates; on the internet with Cake I.D.; and oh yeah, he’s also a playwright. There’s a lot packed into this one, so let’s just dive in!
Will begins the episode talking with Louis about Telegraph, a play he wrote while attending the Washington University in St. Louis. He discusses the undertaking of staging something so daunting as a first-time playwright. Louis and Will talk about college and Will describes what it’s been like to find permission to indulge in his interests. Find out where Will’s ideas come from and if their origin is different when improvising versus writing! He and Louis discuss the hurdle of playing with people who really impress you and the challenge of being malleable not only while acting but in life.
Will relays some great advice for how to behave when you’re being judgemental of a scene! They discuss “wherewithal” as it relates to improv and wonder if it is the opposite of being in your head? Louis points out one of Will’s greatest abilities and diving into the technique, Will offers tips on how to point out an unusual thing in a way that matters and can sustain scenes. They both agree on an improv rule: Don’t be Ironic Comment Guy! Finally, these two gentlemen talk about providing balance to a team and why Spock was so great on Star Trek. Finally, we hear about how Will went from, “I could never do that” when watching improv to performing it almost every night of the week!
Ariana Grande’s resident Floridian, DEDE TABAK, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about being from Miami, her college improv experience, and how to surprise yourself on stage. That’s just a sample of what this episode has to offer, though. You’ll also get to hear about celebrities, how to handle disgusting scenes on stage, how Dede got her start in the arts, and why strange scene partners are awesome. More too, but you get the idea! Huzzah!
This episode begins with a rare and lengthy cold open and continues in earnest on the subject of celebrity encounters. “How tall is Jemaine Clement?” you may wonder. Well, Dede Tabak has the answer! Louis asks Dede about her comedy roots and what she was into as a child. Dede grew up in Miami, Florida watching In Living Color, presumably because she didn’t live in the part of Miami where people were partying or going to the beach, or maybe it was because she was a child! Louis and Dede exchange methods on running away from home, something they would both occasionally attempt in their youth and Dede shares the story of her parents meeting at NYU and moving from New York to Miami and, how now, Dede works at NYU where it all began. They talk about the burden of asking friends and family to come see your improv shows and how to perform “gross” things on stage, or when to just avoid them.
Backing up, Louis asks Dede what brought her to improv in the first place, and we discover that she began life as a theatrical kid and attended a University of Miami theater camp growing up. She then talks about her college improv days at Fairfield University, where she had a very positive experience under the guidance of Heather Parady, complete with lessons like cut the bullshit, be truthful, and to occasionally burn some sage. Dede and Louis explore what it means to “be truthful” in a scene and how to step out with nothing in mind. Find out how Dede most loves to play and hear her talk about how she (successfully) surprises herself on a regular basis. They also discuss regret in improv, what Dede likes to get from her scene partners, watching improv after-the-fact, and cherishing the strange classmates and scene partners you’ll have along the way. Dede says “vagina” in this episode more than anyone ever has on the show! Plus, A Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles!
- Ariana Grande
- David Wain
- Dede Tabak
- Fairfield University
- Heather Parady
- improv technique
- Jemaine Clement
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- Michael Ian Black
- Michael Showalter
- new york
- new york city
- Wet Hot American Summer
- What We Do In The Shadows
Youthful cast member, KIM BROWN, joins us to talk about training at multiple theaters, Gilmore Girls, the post-election Megawatt experience, and much much more. Hear about her Megawatt team YOUTHS as well as what it’s like to put on a show with The Cast. She dishes about everything from hot celebrity gossip t0 her indie team Free Kittens, so you can rest assured that this episode explores the full breadth of humanity. Listen up!
Welcome to 2017! The Magnet Theater Podcast is back for another year of interviews and, this week, we have Kim Brown on the mic. Kim and Louis begin this episode discussing her writing gig at a popular website dedicated to celebrity editorials and hot hot goss. As he often does, Louis asks our guest how she got herself into acting and comedy. Kim’s origin story eventually lands her at UCB and with her beloved indie team, Free Kittens. We hear all about that, plus, she and Louis share some hot takes on which days of the week are best for taking classes!
After several years at UCB, and following a short break from improv, Kim began classes again at Magnet and had an amazing experience going through a second program. She details what it’s like to come back to take improv classes at another theater and why it was such a joy. Kim joined The Cast just after completing Team Performance Workshop and speaks here about how everyone on the team brings their own expertise to the show each week. Speaking of expertise, Louis and Kim get to talking about Gilmore Girls! As a Gilmore Girls expert on The Cast, Kim has much to say and Louis, who is only about three seasons in, also weighs in. This dive into the lore of Stars Hollow raises the topic of recreating something you really love and prompts a discussion on The Cast’s weekly process of paying tribute to a particular genre or theme.
If you’ve ever wondered, “Will Kim Brown ever take a musical improv class?” we have the answer! We find out what scares Kim about musical improv and her former love, musical theater. Kim talks to Louis about performing at Megawatt the night after the 2016 election and they wax poetic about comedy’s ability to help us during dark times. Louis asks about Kim’s Megawatt team YOUTHS and they have a rousing discussion about reframing the Harold to make it more fun and how gaining a bit of confidence can make you so much better improv. The episode concludes with a round of Getting To Know Each Other and a once-in-a-lifetime epilogue from Louis Kornfeld. Check it out!
Friendship Club founder and genius-level baby, ELEANOR LEWIS, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss the best improv exercises, how modern comedies fall short, and why mixers are so wonderful. There’s oodles of improv talk in this one and, by golly, that’s probably why you’re here. Plus, they do some two-person monologue hotspot and Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of [Redacted] Water.
This episode begins with a rarely heard cold open as Eleanor and Louis discuss hot spot, one of the very first warm-ups most improvisors encounter. They debate whether or not it’s a good exercise for a class, or even for a team, to use. They talk about ego in improv, both its destructive and creative tendencies, and Louis offers the theory that the ego of the character and the comedy of the scene are intertwined. He then asks which improv exercises Eleanor really loves. They get into talking movies, where modern comedies fail us, and the greatest comedic strengths of film versus improv. Plus, they ask the question on everyone’s mind: Is Branson Reese the ideal improvisor?
They also partake in a rousing rendition of Getting To Know Each Other in which many great topics pop up. Louis shares his ULTIMATE BELIEF and Eleanor discloses her FAVORITE IMPROV THING! I mean, these are huge. The episode wraps up as Eleanor and Louis discuss shock-value comedy and hosting the Thursday Magnet Mixers, which you should all attend! Finally, Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of Nestle Pure Water even though Nestle is a horrible company and we don’t endorse them. Superman sucks too!
She’s all over the stage and screen and now LANE KWEDERIS joins us to discuss musical theater, audition wisdom, and her favorite moments from working in TV! From the Boston Conservatory to your cable box, Lane has accumulated a wealth of experience, which she shares on this episode as she and Louis discuss her career and life as an actor and comedian. Like Louis, you have perhaps never met Lane before, but you’ll love her after an hour! Catch Lane every Tuesday on Musical Megawatt with Public Pool and on Mondays with sketch team The Executives!!
This episode begins with Louis admitting that he and Lane just met for the first time! It seems as though they’ve been ships passing in the improv night for years now. In order to get fully acquainted, Louis asks how Lane ended up as a performer. She talks about studying musical theater at Boston Conservatory and working in theater soon thereafter. So, how’s she get into improv? Spoiler: It involves a casting director’s suggestion and a new passion. Lane and Louis discuss the rigid musical theater machine versus the more welcoming world of comedy. Despite her initial interest in live theater, Lane is mostly working in film and TV these days. Louis asks a number of nerdy, technical acting and audition questions and Lane answers, giving particular attention to comedic choices. This is helpful information for those interested in that kind of work!
Jumping back, Louis asks Lane if she always knew that performance was her life’s calling, and while she says that indeed, it was, she also mentions how she once wanted to be a veterinarian. As such, she and Louis discuss cute animals (see cat above), Lane’s playful nature, and the archetypes of children. Lane also talks about the fun of performing in Urinetown as a senior in college and how she really loved the comedic aspects of it.
To bring us fully up to speed with Lane’s acting career, Louis asks her to share a couple quick hits from her television appearances. She tells of what it was like to film on Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and of a parlor trick gone wrong while shooting Netflix’s “The Characters” with Tim Robinson. Finally, Louis asks Lane about the comedy that she writes and creates herself – what makes her laugh? – and they mull over some best-case Disney princess scenarios.
Plus! We bring you new editions of both Getting To Know Each Other and A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles!
- Boston Conservatory
- broad city
- comedy central
- Dirty Dancing
- Lane Kwederis
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet sketch teams
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- musical improv
- musical megawatt
- musical theater
- new york
- new york city
- Public Pool
- The Characters
- The Executives
- Tim Robinson