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

Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

Thursday June 29, 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?

Bailey Swilley

Which team or show are you on?

Just Karen

Where are you from?

Memphis

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

After I’d been living in the city for about a year, my dad said, “Didn’t you say you were going to sign up for an improv class? Well, when is it?” Then, I went through the improv and sketch programs at UCB, respectively, and then really got into musical improv for a while. #taglinesongs

How long have you been performing/writing?

Performing in some capacity since high school. Writing sketch for about three years.

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

I really love Casey Wilson… and Jenny Slate. And Billy Eichner! Wait, maybe these are just people I want to be friends with.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

I do a great Lauren Bacall impression from her “Fancy Feast” commercial (you know the one). I’d love to write for Amy Sedaris. What a genius.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Sketches so based in reality that it makes the writers’ room and audience super uncomfortable.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Broadway bangerzzzz.

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

“Do you know where the bathroom is?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

Stuffing my face with papaya salad & dumplings.

Which actor/actress would play you in a biopic about your life?

Mandy Moore… probably?

Wednesday June 28, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

hot air baloons (small 2)

Announcing the 2017 Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program

The Magnet is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2017 Magnet Diversity Scholarships. The Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program was established in 2016 to provide access to improv classes to those excited and motivated students for whom money is a barrier, and to add new and diverse voices to the Magnet’s vibrant and open community.

Those selected will receive full program scholarships for Magnet’s Improv program, covering Levels One through Level Four. Contingent upon acceptance, Level 5 and Team Performance Workshop will also be included. Due to the limited number of full scholarships and the expected number of applicants, applications will be competitive. Applicants who were not awarded a scholarship last year are welcome to re-apply.

The Magnet Diversity Scholarship Program is aimed at increasing our diversity of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and age. Students of all experience levels are encouraged to apply. The scholarships are open to those who have never studied at Magnet, as well as to those who have partially completed the program. Up to $30,000 worth of scholarships will be awarded at the conclusion of the selection process.

Applications are due July 31, by midnight, and can be filled out here. The application includes general information and short essay questions. Selected students will be notified by Monday, August 14.

There will be an Open House at the Magnet Theater on Saturday, July 8 from 12 – 3 pm. Prospective applicants are encouraged to attend to meet with current Magnet performers and Diversity Scholars. There will also be an informal Diversity Jam for interested people to improvise on stage.

Please email diversityscholars@magnettheater.com or Rick@magnettheater.com for any questions.

Click here to apply for the Scholarship.

Wednesday June 28, 2017, 6:34am - by Magnet Theater

Human laugh factory, MICHAEL DELISLE, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss being funny on purpose, bombing on stage, and making a meal out of nothing. He and Louis debate whether or not Phil Hartman had a sense of humor, explore why Michael is so funny in a wig, and they also perform no fewer than three improv scenes together! It’s a real good time and you don’t want to miss it. Huzzah!

Beginning with the introduction of our guest, this episode gets off to what is undeniably the most awkward start in the history of the podcast. Michael asks Louis if he is truly great and the tension builds from there. These two good souls make the most out of the situation and manage to laugh their way through it.

Getting into the real conversation, Louis notes that Michael does a heck of a lot of sketch comedy, but he says he still loves improv. They debate over what percentage of sketch and improv is actually good and try to approximate what the batting averages are for each in the comedy scene. Louis breaks down Michael’s “Will Ferrell effect” for us and our heroes do some improv together. All of this in the first 12 minutes of the episode!

They dig into the idea of being intentionally funny while improvising and debate whether or not improvisers should rely on their life experience to be funny. Louis asks if Micahel is a nervous performer and Mike tells a story about bombing on stage doing stand-up at the tender age of 16. They talk about what you can learn from bombing, both in improv and sketch, and then they do another improv scene. This time, they’re both wearing shorts!

Circling back around, Michael and Louis once again discuss intentional comedic choices in improv and why it’s tricky to teach that skill. While some may consider intentionally comedic choices as going for cheap jokes, Michael thinks about it as playing the most fun thing right away. Our two heroes try to figure out why Michael is so dang funny in a wig and we find out that his favorite kind of sketch comedy is when he’s able to make a meal out nothing. Plus, they ask, “Did Phil Hartman have a sense of humor?”

Finally, Louis ends this episode by asking Michael to perform A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles.

Monday June 26, 2017, 6:47pm - by Magnet Theater

large_thecircuit
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:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc5UINIQf4uUHsaF0FEkRbTkyzLQTc5ayBc3S5XWlcgvzRQiA/viewform

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:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeIxodoz3G0VZwn14jwzpntUqiRkEX5cg8GDZ3cUcEPFtHcHA/viewform

Questions? Just email circuit@magnettheater.com!

Thursday June 22, 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?

Billy Soco

Which team or show are you on?

Hot Charles and Kittyhawk

Where are you from?

Florida

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I took a free improv class at Magnet with Hannah Chase. It was magical and saved my life!

How long have you been performing/writing?

Couple years in comedy now though I was in a rap group in college. That counts, right?

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

Mindy Kaling, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Dick Van Dyke for both. Would love to write with Joss Whedon.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Conan O’Brien, Martin Short, Aziz Ansari, and Fall Out Boy.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

A great tag run. Irrational or unreasonable justifications or sentiments spoken from an unflinchingly committed straight face. Teener, Taul, Gehrig and Birdman…UGH, so good. Also farts.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

A mix of songs from Deja Entendu by Brand New, The Con by Tegan & Sara, Pinkerton by Weezer, Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye, Buhloone Mind State by De La Soul, Morning View by Incubus, and a crap ton of pop punk, Tom Petty, Prince, Queen and J Dilla.

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

“What’s your name?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

I’m probably performing or watching a friend perform but you know what? Let me check my calendar and I’ll tell you exactly. If not, let’s hang!

If animals could talk, which one would be the rudest?

Raccoons. 100%. They’re all up in everyone’s business and home and trash and have no sense of boundaries which leads me to believe that if they could talk they would be super vocal about their likely unfair opinions of others and, you know, if you don’t have anything nice to say, finish stealing cat food from those cats with your creepy little raccoon hands and be on your way.

Wednesday June 21, 2017, 6:25am - by Magnet Theater

 

Improviser, cook, runner, and yoga instructor, LIZ MIGLIACCIO, joins host Louis Kornfeld as they take a look inside themselves as well as inside the worlds of improv and yoga. The two discuss the importance of teachers along with providing different options of learning. We learn an assortment of fun facts about Liz including the age at which she learned how to spell her last name, how she almost drowned, and much more!

At the beginning of the podcast, Liz talks about her incredible sense of direction that she learned from her father while he taught her how to sail. Louis, a native New Yorker, is jealous that she has a much easier time finding where north is – revealing that getting lost is his biggest fear. They talk about a children’s survival camp where the kids are taught to think like animals – in order to teach them survival, and how to keep themselves from getting lost.

Liz tells Louis about her last name, Migliaccio, and how she learned to spell her it using the tune of the Mickey Mouse theme – admitting that it was not until the age of 12 that she got it down. She explains the importance of her last name and how if she got married she would want to keep hers.

Along with having trouble spelling, Liz had a tough time learning in school. She mentions that she was originally placed in special education. We learn about her love for the outdoors and her appreciation for different learning styles. Liz knows she would have learned much more as a kid if subjects like math and science were combined with things she enjoyed like cooking.

They expand on the topic, explaining that learning and teaching have many elements at play (timing, luck, who the teacher is to you, who you are at the time, etc.) Liz tells Louis that she studied at ImprovBoston while she was at school at Emerson and improv did not click for her at the time – so she never counts those four years. She was constantly looking to be funny until she found Magnet – that’s when it all clicked. She went to see a Level 1 show and realized that it looked like everyone was having fun.

Louis compares this revelation to Liz’s idea of “chemistry with cooking” – how it is sometimes easier to learn when you have fun and have a community. Both of them agree that they constantly feel stimulated by others when they are surrounded by improvisers. They laugh about how accustomed you become [as an improviser] to sharp brilliance so it is hard to be surrounded by people outside of improv, who Louis refers to as “muggles.”

At some point, Liz discovered that she would have much deeper connections with people with whom she shared a community. She didn’t fully get into “Liz Migliaccio” until about three years ago when she got out of television. At the time she delved completely into the magic of improv. Liz also talks here about getting into yoga and self-discovery.

They describe the twin-like relationship between grandiose ego and what Liz calls “healthy ego.” The topic switches to our current president, his ego, and how we all have tiny presidents inside of us. The two hit on the topic of nature and how it is necessary to experience it and be humbled by it. Liz dives into her respect for the ocean and nature in general, capping it with a story about the first time she almost drowned.

As a fan of exercise, and movement in general, Liz speaks more about her experience with yoga and becoming a certified yoga instructor. She discusses originally being very stoic but now being someone who enjoys being vulnerable and crying (which she learned through yoga and improv). Liz and Louis compare yoga teachers with improv teachers and the similarities between them. They discuss the simplistic ways that the directors in both worlds can be much better teachers than others.

They tie together the conversation by bringing up the topic of twins again, this time Liz talks about being a twin sister. She describes it as coming into the world with her best friend and getting to share it with her. That’s pretty darn nice, ain’t it?

 

Wednesday June 14, 2017, 6:30am - by Magnet Theater

 

Musical improv maestro, ALI REED, joins host Louis Kornfeld on another episode of the Magnet Theater Podcast. The conversation hits a variety of topics including living in Kentucky, comparing sports to performing improv, and the pleasures of working with musical director Frank Spitznagel. We find out how Ali is able to balance her schedule as one of the busiest people in musical improv and learn about her ambitious plans for the future of the artform! Huzzah!

Catching us up on her life, Ali tells us that she has had a packed schedule for the past nine months and Louis refers to her as the busiest person in musical improv. They discuss momentum and how it can be helpful to have a full schedule.

In the beginning of the episode, Louis asks Ali about growing up in Kentucky. Doing her civic duty, Ali defines what bourbon is – explaining that if it’s not from Kentucky, it’s not bourbon – and we learn about the importance of Louisville basketball and how it was difficult for Ali to be a fan of their rival, University of Kentucky, while she was surrounded by Cardinal fans throughout college.

On the topic of sports, Ali compares being an athlete to being a performer and Louis imagines that playing sports would be similar to performing improv. Ali agrees but thinks that the subjectivity of performing makes it such that she’s harder on herself – adding that it’s easier when there is a win or a loss.

Ali and Louis take a trip down memory lane to talk about how Ali came to be the hardest working woman in musical improv. On the suggestion from an ex-boyfriend, who had had been taking UCB classes in LA, Ali went online to see if any classes were available. She saw that an improv 101 class has just started registering that night and signed up immediately. She and Louis discuss the solidarity of improv classes and Ali says that she is still friends with everyone from her improv 101 class!

Eventually, Ali found her way to musical improv. A friend of hers said that he was going to do a musical improv class at Magnet to which she replied, “Oh, hell yeah.” Since then, she has been bitten by the “Magnet bug.” Sharing her love with us, Ali teaches Louis about different strategies in musical improv. Louis compares it to regular improv and Ali discusses how performing musical improv is similar to putting on that album that you like while you’re in a certain mood – but it’s much more intense.

They talk about Magnet musical director Frank Spitznagel and his incredible knowledge of music, always able to seamlessly integrate various types of musical elements brought up by suggestions of a genre, television shows, specific musicals, etc. Ali talks about how lucky she feels to have had Frank as a teacher and to share the stage with him.

They explore the bravery that goes into musical improv and how Ali often forgets that it IS brave. She is reminded by it when people come up and tell her “Oh, I could never do that.”  They also talk about the benefits of being located in New York, in comparison to LA or Chicago, because of all of the Broadway folks who are willing to coming sing and perform in musical improv.

Diving further into the artform, Ali wants there to be a more authentic, truthful place for musical improv – instead of just songs about butts (which she also loves). When she teaches, she finds that taking the mundane scenes and heightening them can become the funniest and most touching songs. Louis concurs and mentions a musical improv show he saw that capitalized on those tiny “slice of life” scenes and ended up enhancing the characters’ emotions.

As the episode comes to an end, we learn about Ali’s dream for the future of musical improv. She lets us in on her ambitious plans – stating that she will build her own musical improv empire in New York City.

Thursday June 8, 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?

Alex Braslavsky

Which team or show are you on?

The Nitro Girls (Sketch) and Hot Charles (Megawatt)

Where are you from?

Baltimore, MD

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I remember as a kid, I thought my dad was the funniest guy in the world. He would tell these jokes and get huge laughs. My impression was that that’s the way to make people love you. Fast forward to today, and I’ve been doing improv and sketch for a little while, and now I can safely say that I’m way funnier than my dad. Take that, old man!!

How long have you been performing/writing?

A few years!

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

Scene Partner– Marina Abramovic
Writing Partner– Charlie Kaufman

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Larry David

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Mr Bean

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Doves’ “Lost Souls” in its entirety.

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

Do you think we could become close friends?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

Networking on LinkedIn, baby!

What’s the most useless talent you have?

I can shake my eyeballs. Ask me in person next time and I’ll show ya.

Wednesday June 7, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

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.

 

Thursday June 1, 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?

Jennette Cronk

Which team or show are you on?

Honeymoon

Where are you from?

Tampa Bay Area of Florida

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

When I got to NYC, my friend Paddy said, “Let’s go take a free class at Magnet!” He had already gone through UCB. We had a blast in Rick’s class. Then we took Hannah’s class and loved it! Of course, Michael’s musical free class hooked me for all eternity! Once I tried musical improv, I thought, “Yeah, this is what I’ve been looking for my whole life.”

How long have you been performing/writing?

My first big production was Trial By Jury, and we performed it in a historic court house. I was in second or third grade then (and the only kid in the production). I’ve been performing or writing in some capacity for a really long time.

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

Dawn French! I love everything she does.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Can I say Dawn French again? Or Tracy Ullman, she’s a huge role model for me.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Farts. I wish I could say I was more sophisticated…. Maybe a good slip-and-fall…

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Kidz Bop covers of Danzig

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

“Were you followed?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

If I don’t have show, I’m at someone’s show!

What is the worst purchase you have ever made?

I bought a “high-waisted control-top thong” once. It was exactly as awful as it sounds. Thanks, Groupon!