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

Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

Wednesday August 16, 2017, 11:50pm - by Megan Gray

sketch teams logo

Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to Just Karen, Nitro Girls, Chillionaire and The Executives! Thanks to everyone who submitted and auditioned this round. Here’s to a brand new season of killer comedy, premiering on Monday, September 11th, 7:30pm.

 

Italicized = new to program
* = new to existing team
+ = promoted to writer/performer

Just Karen – Directed by Matt Alspaugh*
Devin O’Neill +
Kristina Grosspietsch
Morgan Pelligrino
Keith Rubin
Dennis Pacheco
David Fried
Bailey Swilley
Carly Silverman
Elie Stav
Tom Sanchez*

Chillionaire – Directed by Michael Delisle
Duaa Osman
Tanyika Carey
Molly Kiernan
Kate Shine
Kourtni Bebe
Francis Fuster
Greg Cornejo
Skyler Swezy
Nick Wiener*
Brendan Goggins*

Nitro Girls – Directed by Chris Hastings
Sam Rogal
Jesse Mudrick
Justin Morgan
Lanee Sanders
John Ross
Amy Lynn Berger
Alex Braslavsky
Joe Lepore
Chelsea Frei
Leanne Velednitski

Team Bill S. Preston Esquire – Directed by Jesse Acini
Matt Wassung
Diego Martinez
Chloe Lewis
Lorena Russi +
Jennette Cronk
Billy Soco
Zach Kamin
Lauren Overpack
Zackery Stephens
Caroline Castro

Team Ted Theodore Logan – Directed By Chrissie Gruebel
Karina Sahlin
Daniel Louis Sgrizzi
Sarah Cassell
Kyle Levenick
Matt Abedi
Chris Wade
Yoshi Saito
John Graham
Shelley Little
Rachel Robertson

Team Rufus – Directed by Nat Silverman
Katie Sicking
Matt Morea
Patrick Grizzard
Lauren Faylor
Rob Webber
Gina Cucci
Jackie Skinner
Matt Brooks
Alyssa Lott
Annemarie Cullen

Dinosaur Jones – Directed by Joe Lepore
Matt Alspaugh
Nat Silverman
Hayley Karl
Rich Rosario
Ben Koch
Anna Neu
Becca Schall
Jessica Taylor

The Executives – Directed By Kevin Cobbs
Ari Miller
Elena Skopetos*
Evan Forde Barden
Bryan Berlin
Charlie Nicholson
Lane Kwederis
Meredith Burns
Sara Kalkstien*
Kristen Loe*

Friday August 11, 2017, 6:58pm - by Magnet Theater

For the entire month of September, all room rentals at the Magnet Training Center are only $10 an hour! That’s right – between the hours of 11AM and 11PM, seven days a week, every single one of our lovely rehearsal spaces is available for the low price of $10/hr. Rehearse at Magnet Training Center and save your hard-earned cash for that bus ticket home! Or a flight to Miami. Player’s choice. 😉

Thursday August 10, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

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

What’s your name?

Spencer Campbell

Which team or show are you on?

Hot Charles

Where are you from?

Ojai, California

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

My dad lives in LA, and as a kid we’d often go see the Groundlings, Theatresports, and an improv troupe called LA Connection when I visited on weekends. I loved it, and secretly wanted to do it myself, but pushed the feeling deep inside for fear I’d follow up on it. Many years passed in which I lived several lives. By the time I took my first improv class, I was already an old man.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I’m very sorry to blow your mind, but it’s five years *to the hour* since my first improv class as I’m responding to this. I have an app that tells me how long it’s been so I can calibrate my nostalgia. I’ve been writing, in one way or another, since I developed the motor skills.

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

Hmm. Improvisers pull out such different qualities from each other depending on the pairing. Zach Woods is my favorite improviser, and we’d probably do a very sensible only-straight-man Harold. I’d also love to be a wildcard with a sillypants wildcard like Lauren Lapkus or Thomas Middleditch. I think it would be fun to improvise with my brother and mom. I bet we’d do a dinner scene. Finally, I’d like to be Charlie Kaufman’s writing partner. I imagine we’d sit in silence on opposite sides of the room from each other for six months, doing separate projects, then switch.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Write for: Christopher Morris, Armando Iannucci, Charlie Kaufman, Richard Foreman, David Lynch. Impersonate? Stan Laurel.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Onstage, a dumb, wrong person insisting they’re smart and right. And nothing makes me laugh harder than someone treating a bonkers-absurd point of view as though it’s the most reasonable thing in the world. I’m also a sucker for endless, unvarying, patience-trying repetition. And I think throwing up is funny, but not farting.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

The Eraserhead steam noises.

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

What do you enjoy doing besides…this?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

At a practice, a show, or at home. It would be very strange to see me anywhere else.

What is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?

 

The dog park, with my real friends.

 

Tuesday August 8, 2017, 1:06pm - by Promo Team

Perri Gross is the host of “Everyone Is Sad,” a stand-up show for comedic performers who are relatively new to stand-up. These performers may appear happy doing improv, sketch, and musical improv–but they are all very tormented and sad and want to stand alone on stage. We sit down with Perri to ask her a few a questions ahead of her August 14th show!

MAGNET: What was attractive to you about hosting a show with relatively inexperienced stand-up comedians?
GROSS: I was lucky to have joined a stand up club in college that helped me work out some kinks in my stand up before performing in shows. We would meet every week and have shows a few times a semester. When I moved to NYC, I couldn’t imagine not having any experience and just hitting the open mic scene. I liked the idea of creating a similar space where people could give stand up a try and the rest of the audience is also new. It helps people feel comfortable to know everyone is on the same page and new. I encourage experienced stand-ups to come to my mic as well so they can get a true reaction from the audience to test out new material. Having new excited comics creates a comradery that is hard to find in the comedy scene.

M: What was the most embarrassing moment of your early days in comedy?
G: At one open mic, I had to stop my set because I felt my material was too upsetting and no one was laughing just making “awww” noises. Most of my material is based off of real stories, and my set that night wasn’t funny it was just sad. I got off the stage, left the venue, and walked all the way home.

M: Where’s the weirdest place you’ve cried, and why?
G: I had a major breakup over the phone near the clock in the middle of Grand Central station. I was dry heaving I was crying so hard. I definitely gave some tourists a great idea of the dreams that awaited them in NYC.

M: What did you start first: improv or standup? What inspired you to make the leap from one to the other?
G: I started doing stand-up first. I did a lot of open mics my first year when I moved to NYC but was looking for an easier way to meet new people and switched over to improv. I found a great community at the Magnet through the classes I took. I was always was hesitant to try improv initially because I like to plan what I am doing. I also hate playing animals and [am] scared to face my fear.

M: Which comedians/improvisers inspired you when you first started?
G: I didn’t watch much stand-up growing up but was probably inspired by watching The Simpsons and Seinfeld with my parents. I did always like George Carlin a lot and found his dark style inspiring and close to my voice.

M: If you could watch any celebrity or public figure try standup for the first time, who would it be?
G: Daddy Yankee. He has a lot to say and I just want him to come out of the wood work. I’m really happy Despacito has put him back on the map and I hope he gets to do a tight 30 soon.

Don’t miss the next Everyone Is Sad, coming up on Monday, August 14th, at 9 pm!

Friday August 4, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

SketchTeamSubmissions_1920-1080_Generic_blog

The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that starting July 14th, we will be accepting applications for the 2017 Fall/Winter Season of MAGNET SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from September 11th, 2017 – February 2018! IMPORTANT UPDATE: Applications and reels for actors are due by Wednesday, August 9th, at 12 pm. Writer applications and packets are due by Friday, August 11th, at 5 pm!

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

GENERAL SKETCH SHOW EXPECTATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

GENERAL SKETCH TEAM EXPECTATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

WRITER EXPECTATIONS

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

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

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

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

WRITER  PREREQUISITES

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

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

WRITER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

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

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

PERFORMER EXPECTATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

PERFORMER PREREQUISITES

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

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

PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

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

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

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

  • A headshot

  • A PDF of your acting resume

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

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

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

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

WRITER/ PERFORMER EXPECTATIONS

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

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

WRITER/PERFORMER PREREQUISITES

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

WRITER/PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

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

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

  • All materials detailed in writer application instructions.

  • All materials detailed in performer application instructions.

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

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

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

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

Applications and reels for actors are due by Wednesday, August 9th, at 12 pm. Writer applications and Packets must be received by 5 pm on Friday, August 11th!  

Wednesday August 2, 2017, 7:00am - by evan barden

 

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!

Don’t forget to check out Keisha’s own podcasts: Applying It Liberally and The Soul Glo Project.

Tuesday August 1, 2017, 9:00pm - by Promo Team

Junior Varsity’s Jarret Berenstein is releasing his first book, The Kellyanne Conway Technique: Perfecting the Ancient Art of Delivering Half-Truths, Fake News, and Obfuscation– With A Smile, this August from Racehorse Publishing. He’s celebrating its launch with a show at Magnet and some of his favorite stand-up comedians. We sat down with Jarret to talk about his Kellyanne, his book, and the upcoming release show August 7th.

MAGNET: What about Kellyanne Conway did you find particularly interesting while you were writing this book?

JB: Before writing this book I assumed that people needed at least some integrity to survive. I thought it was like food or oxygen, and that a person with zero integrity would shrivel up and dry out like a desert grape. Kellyanne appears to be living sans integrity though, and that’s pretty interesting. And worrisome!

M: Which part of the process in making this book was the most fun?
JB: Definitely writing the “everyday life” examples. In the book, I talk about how we can use Kellyanne’s brand of spin get out of tight spots in our everyday life, so coming up with those types of problems (speeding ticket, late for work, double murder, etc) and then translating a Kellyanne move to fit that situation was really fun.

M: Why do you think a book, in particular, is a great medium for this kind of humor?
JB: I’ve seen a lot of articles and videos online about what Kellyanne does and why it’s effective, but they mostly just scratch the surface. You need to have the full length of a book to go through all the different types of Conway nonsense and also have the space to thoroughly make fun of each of them.

M: If you had to boil down the essence of Kellyanne and her technique down to 3 words, what would they be?
JB: Overflowing with bullshit.

M: Who is this book perfect for? Who is this book totally NOT for?
JB: I think the book is perfect for everyone! Even if you’re more conservative, I think anyone can appreciate what’s silly about Kellyanne.

M: Tell us a little about your book release show!
JB: The show is on Monday, August 7th at 7:30 pm at the Magnet. It’s gonna feature some great standups like Seaton Smith (from Fox’s Mulaney) and Liza Treyger (incredible comic with one of the best Comedy Central Half Hour specials I’ve ever seen), and possibly a short reading from the book! There’s talk of the publisher bringing free beer and a copy of the book for people in the audience (while supplies last) but don’t hold me to that.

Don’t miss Jarret’s book release show August 7th, 7:30 pm at Magnet! You can pre-order his book now on Amazon.

Tuesday August 1, 2017, 12:01am - by Magnet Theater

 

Sign up in August 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 August. 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 August 31st, 2017. Our normally priced $399 classes are now $349 for the month of August. We ran the same sale in May, June, and July 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:

Improv Level One

Musical Improv Level One

Sketch Writing Level One

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.

Happy Anniversary!

Monday July 31, 2017, 4:02pm - by Promo Team

Our old pal George Basil (HBO’s Crashing, TBS’ Wrecked, Netflix’s Flaked) returns to New York this week to take on two of Magnet’s greatest improv duos: Kornfeld & Andrews and Trike! We sat down with George to talk about his work in television, his passion for improv, and his favorite spots to return to in NYC.

MAGNET: What are some current and upcoming projects you’re pumped about?

GB: I’m excited for a couple things coming up. One is an animated show that some friends are making, and I’ll be the voice of a centaur (dream come true), and the other is a series I’m developing about a single dad and his cool kid titled “Rad Dad.”

M: You’ve got some improv shows coming up at Magnet with Kornfeld & Andrews and Trike – what excites you about doing improv?  What keeps you coming back?

GB: The same thing that excites me about playing blackjack or craps is the thing that excites me about improv: the total unknown. No matter how good you think you are, sometimes the earth’s rotation has got it out for you. What keeps me coming back? The Magnet will always feel like my home.

M: Between your characters on Crashing, Flaked, and Wrecked – which is most similar to you?

GB: Probably Lief from Crashing. He’s impulsive but finds different philosophies he can use as a way to justify his sometimes irresponsible actions. I do that shit.

M: Who’s your favorite improviser and why? 

GB: Dan Bakkhedal, for sure. I used to watch him whiz mentally around a stage and it didn’t matter who his scene partner was, he totally listened to them and supported every move they made. I could watch that man do anything.

M: What are you most excited about doing during your time back in NY? 

GB: Aside from the rad shows at Magnet, I’m always stoked to revisit my old neighborhood in Brooklyn and reminisce through places I used to eat. Even just walking the same streets that took me to the train gets me all excited. Mostly excited for the shows though. It’s been too long.

George Basil joins Trike this Saturday, August 5th at 9 pm! You can also see him with Kornfeld & Andrews this Sunday, August 6th at 7:30 pm!

Thursday July 27, 2017, 10:18am - by Promo Team

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

What’s your name?

Keith Rubin

Which team or show are you on?

Just Karen

Where are you from?

Maryland

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I started doing improv in high school, and joined an improv group in college to have a group of people who were contractually obligated to be my friends. Then when I moved to New York, I studied improv and sketch at UCB and performed informally there and at the PIT before landing at the Magnet sketch program in a more official capacity.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I’ve been performing since high school, and writing for about four years.

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

I’d truly love to do an improv scene with Jason Sudeikis and try to out-straight-man each other for the entire duration of it. As for writing, if I could just be a fly on the wall when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hang out, that’s probably about as educational an experience as you could get. Alternatively, I’d love to just watch how Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright operate on a set and take copious notes.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

I’ve recently been working on an impression of the least attractive Hemsworth brother, but…dream scenario? I’d want to impersonate one of the more attractive Hemsworth brothers. And also write something for Martin and Morgan Freeman and call it “The Freemans: Brothers From Another Mother.”

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Extremely specific, extremely dumb things. In this regard, Clickhole is a godsend to me.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

A Songza playlist entitled “90’s Crowd-Pleasing Hits.” Songza because it is as obsolete as my knowledge of music, and 90’s music because Third Eye Blind is the best band there is, was, or ever will be.

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

“How’s it going?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

If I’m free, probably cooking a nice dinner, and if not, probably seeing or doing the show that’s preventing me from being free and cooking a nice dinner.