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

Posts Tagged ‘magnet’

Wednesday November 30, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

matt-alspaugh-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Writer, actor, and director, MATT ALSPAUGH, swings by to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about teaching, how he got into the performing arts, and some tasty bits of NYC history. How did this kid who grew up playing baseball in Connecticut fall in love with theater and eventually find himself chasing comedy in New York City? We’ll find out! Matt also provides advice for sketch writers, actors, and show-runners. Plus! We ask Matt to perform a never-before-heard segment called “A Very Kind Scene With A Jar of Pickles.” Huzzah!

We open the episode discussing Matt’s time working at the Drama Book Shop, a local institution for actors, playwrights, and fans of theater alike. His years there allowed Matt to meet many wonderful people, read many great plays, and to be surrounded by theater. It also allowed him to do some couch-crashing, which talks about fondly. While back home after college, Matt was a substitute teacher, and he and Louis find themselves discussing how theater fits into the overall education experience. On the topic of staged pieces, our gents talk about the interplay between the audience and the performer and how performers must allow the audience to fill in some details for themselves. In order to allow yourself to act, you must not worry about convincing the audience of the reality. From all of this, Louis asks Matt about how he got into improv and sketch. Having worn so many different hats within Magnet’s sketch community, Matt provides advice for sketch actors, writers, and show-runners. What’s his favorite role? Find out!

For this episode, we to skip over “Getting To Know Each Other” and instead, Matt tells us about some interesting tidbits of New York City history – after all, he’s a licensed NYC tour guide! Oh baby! And finally, A Very Kind Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles, because we all need some kindness after the election.

matt-alspaugh-pickles

Wednesday November 16, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

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The sexiest baby on earth, DERRENCE WASHINGTON, swings by to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about spirituality, working with our egos, and making cultural adjustments while improvising. Derrence tells us about his upbringing in Houston, TX and when it was that he truly began to remove judgement from himself. He also talks a bit about acting and how improv can improve for those underrepresented in the art form. Catch Derrence each week with his Megawatt team Sexy Baby and on the Friday Night Sh*w!

Derrence and Louis begin the program talking about spirituality and what it means to be a spiritual person. Derrence says that forgiveness, love, and loving yourself are key. Louis asks Derrence about his Instagram account and the videos he posts to it which highlight both his inspirational thoughts and his superego. We hear a bit about his religious upbringing in Houston, TX and what began his turnaround as someone who felt spiritual and meditative. Derrence speaks more about removing judgement from yourself and how we have to navigate our own egos. He suggests looking for symbols outside of the ego that we can go to for help. Taking it in another direction, Louis wants to talk about acting! How do ego and a person’s sense of self play into acting? Louis also sets about describing a couple of improv epiphanies. Toward the end of their conversation, Derrence talks about making cultural adjustments when improvising and the experience of being black and going through improv classes. Louis asks him how improv can improve for those that are underrepresented and how can we make more people feel more comfortable? All the great talk leaves no time for a two person hotspot this episode, but you know we got that Serious Scene Opposite A Jar of Pickles.

 

Wednesday November 9, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

sisters-three-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

The creative team behind SISTERS THREE joins us to talk about their incredible show. Starring Magnet all-stars Elana Fishbein and Elena Skopetos, directed by the one and only Peter McNerney, and written by all three of them, Sisters Three is a fast-paced, hilarious play that is running at the Magnet this fall and early next year. It’s Louis’ favorite show he’s ever seen at the Magnet and it’s also a New York Times Critics Pick. Your next chances to see it are Friday November 11th and 18th but you get to hear all about the show right here first.

They get started with attempting to describe Sisters Three and Louis claims that it’s the perfect marriage of improv and theater. The creators dive into the process of building, writing, and staging the show through improvisation and workshopping pieces of it. They say it took at least six months of work to even have an idea of what the show would look like!  It’s an incredibly interesting and wonderful process. They discuss embracing subtlety and avoiding the temptation to spell it all out for the audience. They talk about characters left on the cutting room floor and some of the jokes that didn’t make it in. Louis floods the episode with compliments and they’re all warranted. He also asks, “What’s the next step?” They talk about promoting and producing the play and where else they might be able to take it. Also, they give a nice hat tip to Locke & Key, a graphic novel series which has inspired them all. PLUS – They ALL do a Serious Scene Opposite A Jar of Pickles. (And no, it wasn’t Evan’s idea!) Huzzah!

Wednesday November 2, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

dubbs-weinblatt-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Founder and host of Thank You For Coming Out, DUBBS WEINBLATT, joins us to discuss battling stagefright, coming out stories, and the show TYFCO. Dubbs talks to host Louis Kornfeld about getting started in comedy in Ohio, how great Hawaiian shirts are, and what it feels like to be cut from a team. This episode is filled with the laughs you’d expect and also a lot of honest, touching moments that we think everyone can appreciate. Dubbs FTW! Check out the next Thank You For Coming Out on Monday, 12/12, at 10:30pm.

This episode kicks off with an exploration of why Dubbs been shaken by performance anxiety lately, but before going too deep into it, we back up a bit and Louis asks how Dubbs got started in comedy. We find out that Dubbs was originally pursuing stand-up in Columbus, OH! They both talk about the difference between the fears associated with standup (you’re prepared, but alone) and the fears linked to improv (you’re unprepared, but with people). Eventually, Dubbs moved to NYC and signed up for a UCB intensive improv class, but never even got to take it! Instead, Dubbs found musical improv at Magnet.

Louis talks with Dubbs about coming out as gay and then, later, coming out as genderqueer. As someone who didn’t fit into the gender binary, gaining the language necessary to properly articulate Dubbs’ new identity was perhaps as important as anything else. Dubbs describes the lead-up to top surgery and how the effects of the surgery can be seen in the camouflage and Hawaiian shirts Dubbs wore, respectively, before and after the procedure.

Circling back to where we began, Louis and Dubbs discuss stagefright! Dubbs describes the experience of a recent show where the cast of TYFCO (literally) held Dubbs’ hand leading into a scene and goes on to profess the benefits of community support. Diving further into the background of that moment, Dubbs speaks candidly about being cut from Musical Megawatt and how it hurts more being let go from within the system than not being a part of it at all. The interview ends with a bit more talk about TYFCO.

To close the show, Louis and Dubbs get to know each other with a “coffee and cake” monologue hotspot and Dubbs gives us a Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles for the ages!

dubbs-louis-pickles

Wednesday October 26, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

louis-kornfeld-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Oh my my. To celebrate our 100th episode, host LOUIS KORNFELD takes a seat on the other side of the table to be interviewed by the incomparable Peter McNerney! What more do you need to know??? Happy 100th! Huzzah!

Fellow Magnet veteran and instructor, Peter McNerney, literally takes Louis’ place to interview our intrepid host all about his life and mind in the world of art and improv. We get to hear tidbits from Louis each week, but this episode is all about him! We thought that after 100 episodes, it might be nice for Louis to kick back, take the night off from hosting, and simply answer some questions. The result is wonderful and we’re so happy to share it with you. Here’s to 100 more!!!

peter-and-louis-pickles

Wednesday October 19, 2016, 2:18am - by Magnet Theater

matt-shafeek-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A Megawatt performer since the very beginning, MATTHEW SHAFEEK, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about the different eras of Magnet, being a class clown, and, oh yes, gaming! These two performers go way back and have a lot of fun with this conversation. See Matt perform each week on Wednesdays with Metal Boy and on Saturdays with The Armando Diaz Experience!

Louis kicks off the episode my enlightening us to the fact that this Metal Boy has been in and out of Megawatt since the VERY beginning of Megawatt. How many teams has he been on?? Louis tries to guess! He and Matt discuss the different eras of Megawatt and even reflect on the days when you could take an eight-week Armando Diaz class for $99. Matt describes the role that improv has taken in his life and the balance it provides. He and Louis talk about what it means to be a class clown and Matt surmises that joking around in school was the beginning of his career in comedy. He even tells of the fan club he once created for himself! Both guys reflect on how nice it is to hang around comedians without having to do bits all the time and you won’t want to miss the moment when Louis says something that he thinks sounds insincere! That’s all before Louis asks about Matt’s life off-stage and he tells us that he’s a big time gamer. Matt gets into the board-game renaissance, how incredibly helpful games can be in social situations, and how gaming may be the future of storytelling. There’s no hotspot on this episode, but you better believe that we cap it all off with A Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles! Huzzah!

Wednesday October 12, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

annie-moor-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Visual artist and Magnet performer, ANNIE MOOR, is on the podcast talking with Louis about improv and how her art, no matter the medium, always trends toward storytelling. They dive deep into how narrative shows come together and even discuss how jealousy can be a great motivator. Aside from performing at Magnet with Wonderland, Premiere: The Improvised Musical, and Object Work, Annie is also a Magnet instructor, an early childhood educator, a teaching artist, and a visual artist who will be selling her incredible works of art at the Union Square Holiday Market from November 17th to December 24th! So many ways to enjoy Annie Moor, so little time! (But at least this episode will live online forever.)

Annie recently started teaching Level One Musical Improv at Magnet, so Louis begins the podcast by asking her what she thinks is the mark of a successful Level One class. He also wants to know how teachers help students who have zero musical awareness – how to bring them to their voice? Annie find that sharing her own anecdotes of “not knowing” with students often puts them at ease. Louis comes up with a cool analogy about cutting tomatoes with a dull knife that relates to staying sharp and keeping things fresh when performing. As he is wont to do when musical improvisers are across from him, Louis asks about the use of narrative structure in musical improv. He and Annie get into how narrative shows differ from traditional longform and how picking an antagonist is really hard! Annie has been doing improv since 2008 but it took her four years to find musical improv, which has truly been her love. She’s been doing theater her whole life though and made the jump to studying animation when she went off to college where, Annie claims, she was the worst animation student NYU has ever had! More recently, her primary non-musical improv experience has been performing with Object Work, an improv show which uses real objects. Louis and Annie talk about playing out real life on stage and they ask, does a good kind of jealousy fuel us appropriately? Annie talks about how all of her artistic pursuits trend towards storytelling and narrative moments. She says that storytelling starts taking shape for kids around four years old and that she loves getting to see that development on a regular basis in her work teaching one through five year olds. To end the show, Annie and Louis play a rousing game of monologue hotspot! Sadly, due to a recording error, we lost this episode’s edition of A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles. Only Annie, Louis, Evan, and Grant will ever know how truly delightful it was!

annie-louis-pickles

Wednesday October 5, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

beth-slack-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A star on both Magnet and UCB stages, BETH SLACK, stops by to talk with Louis about her love of opera, how 9/11 changed her career plans, and why musical improv rules. Beth tells us all about her long relationship with stage performance and, how after taking a break from it for nearly 10 years, she came back to the stage by finding improv. She and Louis get to know each other and she does a wonderful scene with jar of pickles! See Beth weekly at Magnet with Premiere: The Improvised Musical, The Cast, and at UCB on Harold Night with Foxhole. Plus! This coming week she performs a live radio play with The Broadcast (10/10) and as a part of the New York Musical Improv Festival with Hansbury & Slack (10/13).

As a fantastic musical improviser, it might not surprise anyone to find out that Beth was originally trained in opera! She first moved to NYC about 15 years ago, three days before the events of September 11th took place. Understandably, her plans to “make it” in the big city were put on hold and she moved back to Ohio. Beth later returned to NYC to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, after which, she stopped doing anything artistic for about 10 years. She tells us all about getting into opera and vocal performance and how she went to boarding school for a year specifically to study voice. With her extensive knowledge, Beth enlightens Louis as to the differences between opera and musical theater. About four years ago, almost exactly 11 years after first moving to NYC, Beth signed up for an improv class and her world was changed again. She and Louis discuss how narrative plot functions in different styles of improv and they mull over the differences between tangible art and performance art. Digging further into improv theory, they discuss the pitfalls of over-agreement in scenes and how it’s perfectly okay to ask questions. Plus, Louis and Beth play some two-person hotspot and Beth performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles!

beth-louis-pickles

Tuesday September 27, 2016, 3:54pm - by Magnet Theater

carly-monardo-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Animator, illustrator, and Magnet performer, CARLY MONARDO, joins us to talk about the links between her different disciplines, who her heroes are, and what drives good characters. Plus, she plays monologue hotspot with Louis and performs a serious scene with a jar of pickles. Carly started at Magnet with the Free Intro to Improv class and now performs on Megawatt with Metal Boy, on Magnet Sketch Teams with Dinosaur Jones, with her duo TJ & Blood, and every Saturday night with The Cast! She’s also created the artwork for dozens of different shows at the theater and helped drive the Magnet’s visual identity. Could she BE anymore wonderful???

Carly begins this episode talking about how she first became interested in improv by watching shows at UCBT and then seeing Musical Megawatt at Magnet. Her first class was the Free Intro to Improv class, which turned out to be a really good idea. Louis pauses the improv talk for a bit to ask about how Carly got into animation, graphic design, and art in general. She talks about having to take an acting class in college and how the lessons learned while studying animation have bled into her performance. They also attempt to answer the question of what drives characters. Is it all ego-driven? Louis can’t let the opportunity pass to ask Carly what she did on The Venture Bros., what her proudest projects have been, and who her heroes are! Plus, they throw a lot of shade (and love) at Sulaiman Beg. Our episode concludes with a wonderful round of two-person hotspot based on the suggestion of “a rose by any other color” and Carly performs A Serious Scene With A Jar Of Pickles. You’ll have to listen in because these two native Staten Islanders have a grand old time!

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