Posts Tagged ‘musical improv’
Opera singer turned full-time musical improviser, KIKI MIKKELSEN, joins us to talk about all of her shows, Edinburgh Fringe, and the challenges of writing. You can see Kiki doing musical improv nearly every day of the week with her teams and shows Vern, Public Pool, Happy Karaoke Fun Time, Premiere: The Improvised Musical, Blank! The Musical, and Baby Wants Candy. Kiki is a bonafide musical improv all-star and we’re so happy that she’s on the show!
Kiki and Louis settle in for the first real conversation they’ve ever had and they don’t know it at first, but they’ll cover a lot of ground. “Tell me about yourself,” Louis begins. We hear about how Kiki came to be a full-time musical improviser and a bit about her upcoming trip Edinburgh for its Fringe Festival, which will be her first time participating. With so much improv in her life, Kiki and Louis both wonder if she can possibly keep friends outside of improv. Don’t worry, it’s a question we all must face when confronted with the obsession that is improv!
We backtrack a bit to discover where Kiki hails from (PA) and where she went to school (OKC). One of very few improvisers with an opera degree, Kiki gives Louis a crash course in opera voice types and tells us a bit about how long they take to develop. She talks about getting into improv and comedy while still working on her opera dream and she throws down this hot take: improv people are more fun than opera people! Her story starts with discovering short form and comedy in general with her best bud Lindsay Calleran. It wasn’t long before Kiki was jumping into classes at UCB, The PIT, and Magnet. Within her expansive improv education, she speaks fondly of her very special Level One Musical Improv class at Magnet with instructor Michael Martin, leading Kiki and Louis to discuss the various overlapping micro-communities within the greater improv community.
Louis asks Kiki to talk about the litany of different shows she’s a part of and they begin with Baby Wants Candy, which is about as big as it gets in musical improv! She’ll be heading to Edinburgh Fringe with BWC and talks about what she’s expecting. She also talks about her house teams Vern and Public Pool, as well as the shows Premiere: The Improvised Musical, Happy Karaoke Fun Time, and Blank! The Musical. Find out what excites her about each show and how are they all different.
Exploring beyond her current penchant for musical improv, Kiki and Louis discuss the roots of her humor and desire to perform comedy. Kiki recalls that she didn’t grow up watching a ton of comedy but then found Christopher Guest movies. Plus, Louis shares his secret dream with us. After revealing to Louis that she finds writing to be difficult to break into, he gives Kiki some inspiration for writing and they talk about how to stay motivated. Finally, Kiki expresses her belief that building something together is always funnier than working alone.
- Baby Wants Candy
- Blank The Musical
- Edinburgh Fringe Festival
- fringe festival
- Happy Karaoke Fun Time
- Kiki Mikkelsen
- Lindsay Calleran
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet training center
- Michael Martin
- musical improv
- musical megawatt
- new york
- new york city
- Public Pool
- Upright Citizens Brigade
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?
Which team or show are you on?
Wonderland Musical Improv
Where are you from?
How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?
When I was in college (on a “foreign exchange” to NYC from South Dakota State) I found out about the free show ASSSSCAT at UCB and went almost every week…so when I actually moved to NYC as an adult, I wanted to try it out myself!
How long have you been performing/writing?
Improv for about 5 years, musical improv for about 3 years. Before, I did theater and scripted stuff! And lots of writing.
Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?
I know it’s not possible because she is dead, but Lucille Ball. I think she’s so wonderful and silly but also a smart and hard working.
Who would you most like to impersonate or write for?
In 2008, I liked to impersonate Sarah Palin, but Tina Fey really had it covered. Now–maybe this is sad–I like to impersonate my cat. I give him a ridiculous French accent and make him say pretentious things.
What makes you laugh the hardest?
Sometimes my teammates make me laugh so hard from the sidelines that I forget I’m in the show and need to do something in the next scene. Also, I used to teach in Hong Kong and kids there would give themselves an English name at around age 10. So I had kids named Pinky Pinky, Money, Uncle, and…My Little Pony.
Describe the soundtrack to your life!
Started with ’80s musical theater, morphed into DMB in college, then got so gritty in later college with lots of 90s rap, now it’s more like an unrecognizable classical melody.
What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?
I always ask where people are from…I feel like most people who live in NYC are not from here. Plus I love to travel, so if I know where someone is from, I can perhaps later use them for travel tips or a place to stay.
Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
Either working as a tour guide for big student groups, going to a show, or, if it’s after 11pm, home in Harlem with my cat and fiancé, watching VEEP.
Who is an actor/actress (outside of the comedy genre) that you would like to see in a comedic film or play?
Sign up in July and get $50 off your Level One!
It’s the classic 12th Anniversary gift – $50 bucks off.
This sale is for all Level One classes throughout the month of July. That includes Improv, Musical Improv, and Sketch Writing. Sign up for all three and save $150. Or sign up for 10 of them and save $500. Unreasonable? Hell yes. But signing up for one is not only not unreasonable – it’s smart! Save money while falling in love with the most inspiring creative pursuit you can imagine. And while gaining skills that just might change your life.
When we began our theater in 2005, we never knew we’d grow into an organization with 250 performers, 22 teachers, and 80 million students annually. We tried not to, but it happened anyway. We started with Armando Diaz teaching one improv workshop and now we offer comprehensive training in improv, musical improv, sketch writing, storytelling and more. We think that studying with Magnet instructors is simply one of the best ways to improve your comedy, your art, your relationships, and your life.
That’s why we’re offering $50 off any Level One class (improv, musical improv, sketch comedy) when you register between now and July 31st, 2017. Our normally priced $399 classes are now $349 for the month of July. We ran the same sale in May and June and so many people took advantage of it, that we wanted to keep the good times rolling. We know that our entire community benefits from more people improvising and we want to make it as easy as possible to get started.
To view classes currently enrolling, click on the appropriate link below:
Our Level One Improv and Musical Improv classes are eight sessions with an additional graduation show at the end (no grad show for the sketch class, but it’s still amazing). And as always, free Intro to Improv classes are also available on a regular basis. Click here for details.
We are now accepting applications for The Summer 2017 Circuit! Circuit Teams are made up of Magnet Theater students, graduates of our training program, and veteran performers. We believe that in order to get better at improv, you need to do it.
The deadline to apply is July 5, 2017, at noon. Teams will be announced July 8. Rehearsals start the weekend of July 15. Shows will begin Friday, July 21. Teams will perform Friday nights at 10:00 pm for 10 weeks (with one week off for Labor Day weekend).
To sign up for The Circuit, click this link to fill out the form:
This round, there will also be a Musical Circuit team! If you have completed Musical Level 3 and are not currently on a Musical Megawatt team, you can apply for Musical Circuit here:
Questions? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
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.
International man of mystery, ROMAN PIETRS, sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to discuss his improv life, his various profession(s), and being a dad who does improv. The Warm Blooded team member explains his proclivity toward using emotion during improv and Louis unearths out some of the reasons why Roman is a person of great intrigue. The topics in this episode range from European walking tours to male-perm quiche parties, so you know it’ll be great.
We begin this episode with a sneaky little cold open in which Roman and Louis delve into their family histories including a generation that seemed to largely reject their given names.
Diving into the episode proper, Roman divulges that he planned ahead by checking emails in order to refresh his Magnet Theater memory. When discussing musical improv, Roman explains that he has “more of a musical mind than a lyrical mind” and gives an example of a song about a box. It’s the kind of improv that Roman refers to as, “speaking in tongues.” Louis also shares his perspective of letting yourself go onstage and opening your mouth without an idea.
The two chat about their experiences with emotion on stage and we find out that Roman’s safe place is going to a highly-inflated emotional state. Louis was uncomfortable with the idea of playing with emotion at first, but now he believes that emotion is everything. Roman discusses his recent struggle with breaking on stage – due to the hilarity of his teammates – and describes his team, Warm Blooded, as an ensemble that creates “passionate musicals that borderline on the obscure.”
Louis begins to figure out some of the reasons why Roman has the reputation of being a “man of mystery.” In addition to working in improv and graphic design, Roman also helps run a European walking tour industry (taking place in Budapest, Prague, etc.). After helping his wife out with a craft idea, they eventually got to be on Shark Tank. “Male-perm quiche party” is a term that Louis had never heard of, however Roman used it as a way to raise money for a good cause and in turn share a cover story with Slash from Guns ‘N’ Roses. Lastly, we hear about an interesting taxi driver whom Roman learned a lot about. And that’s just the stuff we had time for in this podcast recording!
- Edinburgh Fringe
- European tours
- fringe festival
- graphic design
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet training center
- male perm quiche party
- musical improv
- musical megawatt
- musical theater
- musical theatre
- new york
- new york city
- Roman Pietrs
- Shark Tank
- The Donkey Show
- walking tours
- Warm Blooded
- White Umbrella Tours
New Team Crosby
New Team Stills
New Team Nash
New Team Young
Comedian and rapper, KATY BERRY, talks with host Louis Kornfeld about performing with a chip on her shoulder, why Sexy Baby is so damn hot, and her hip-hop improv team, North Coast. They also discuss how their personal lives show up on stage, how Katy found herself doing comedy in NYC, and the importance of being a motherfucking role model. For anyone who hesitates to be themselves and tell the haters to go screw, this episode was made just for you, with love, from KBizzle herself. Do. Your. Thang.
When we asked Katy what she might want to discuss on the show, she said, “Saying ‘fuck the haters’ and slaying all day, every day” which proved to be a wonderful jumping-off point for the episode. We find out what exactly that means to Katy as she and Louis talk about putting the personal and private lives on stage for all to see. Katy feels as though she has something to prove as a performer and that it comes from her childhood, both parts of which we get into. A shock to no one who has seen both of them perform, Louis theorizes that he and Katy may deal with private matters in opposite ways! For Katy, it all ties into her resolve to never back down from being herself.
Katy considers herself very lucky to have been on three incredibly supportive, incredible teams who have all celebrated her approach to improv and allowed her voice to be heard, loudly. She shouts out Cool Blanche before getting into her current teams, Sexy Baby and North Coast. Louis asks Katy about Sexy Baby’s modus operandi and she boldly claims that fart jokes are the birth mother of all comedy. Katy tells us what Sexy Baby tends to focus on in practice and she provides us with a little bit of her own NYC-comedy origin story.
Of course, we can’t hear from Katy Berry and not discuss North Coast, her hip-hop improv team that is about to celebrate their eighth anniversary (this coming Friday)! Katy got onto the team after going to an open audition and tells us why it was not only a match made in Heaven, but maybe even fate. She talks about what goes through her head when doing scenes with North Coast and how the confidence gained doing hip-hop improv slips into her daily life. Katy and Louis both think that people who have never struggled have very little to offer us on stage and Louis has an epiphany on the mic! As a performer, Katy urges everyone to play fearlessly, to lead, and to be a role model when on stage. By simply being yourself, you allow others to be themselves too. Finally, Louis brings to light a very interesting point that we should all be keyed into and we end this episode with some excellent plugs. Want more on Katy? www.katyberrycomedy.com
Announcing Musical Megawatt Auditions
We are excited to announce that Musical Megawatt auditions are coming up! To submit for an audition slot, please fill out THIS FORM! Please note that only people who have completed Musical Improv Level 3 at the Magnet Theater are eligible to submit.
This season, auditions will take place on Saturday, April 1st, from 6:30 to 10:30, with callbacks on Sunday the 2nd at the same time. Both rounds of auditions will be at the Magnet Training Center, located at 22 West 32nd Street on the 10th Floor. We will do our best to accommodate everyone’s schedules, but please understand that we can’t guarantee anyone a particular audition time.
Submissions must be received by Wednesday, March 22nd, and emails with assigned audition times will be sent out on Friday the 24th.
Musical Megawatt teams will perform afterward, with shows at 7, 8, 9, and 10. We hope to see you there!