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

Posts Tagged ‘new york’

Monday March 16, 2015, 12:05pm - by Magnet Theater

polaroids scattered 10years

Hey Magnet Community!

In case you didn’t know, our beloved Magnet Theater turns 10 years old next month and we’re hoping to celebrate in a big way. We are hoping to put together a collection of as many photos and videos as possible so that we can scrapbook a decade of memories. And we need your help! Do you have photos of Magnet shows, rehearsals, or classes?  We want them! And the older, the better! If you can help us, please email promo@magnettheater.com with files, links to Dropbox/Drive, or physical drop off requests. However you want to get us your memories, we want your help!

Thanks!
Chrissie & Evan

Magnet Promo Team

Wednesday March 11, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Chris Duffy Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Stand up, radio host, and improviser Chris Duffy joins us this week on the podcast to discuss the various shows he produces and how learning and laughing go together so well. Host Louis Kornfeld asks Chris about the origins of his show You’re The Expert, a radio program, podcast, and live show that asks a panel of three comedians to guess what an academic expert studies all day. We hear about the other stand up shows Chris hosts which they all combine elements of education, shared experience, and comedy. You’ll learn about Chris’s obsession with lists and who he hopes to emulate along the way. Is Chris a highly disciplined comedian? Find out! Also hear about giving gifts and walking through life with open arms rather than arms crossed. Plus, Chris shares his biggest bomb ever and talks about getting into comedy because it felt important. Tune in, friends!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #35 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Wednesday March 4, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Charlie Whitcroft Podcast Subscribe with iTunes
Our guest this week, Charlie Whitcroft, has known our host, Louis Kornfeld, for 23 years and they have been best friends just as long. Join us on this episode for a trip down Memory Lane as Louis and Charlie revisit their younger days, but also reflect on the upcoming 10 year anniversary of the Magnet. Part of a group of improvising friends, Charlie was the long holdout and the last to join in on the improv fun. He talks about being intimidated at first and how he got over his hesitation. These two friends discuss turning points in life and how they’ve seemingly led parallel existences over the last two-plus decades, both becoming grown ups in the improv world. As an improviser who (Louis claims) plays great heart-to-heart moments, we find out how Charlie brings that sense of patience to his teaching. Plus, we hear about the raw, early days of the Magnet Theater, the mystery of Kevin Dorff workshops, and Charlie’s new Directors Series, Rashamon.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #34 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Wednesday February 25, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Sean Taylor Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Long-time Magnet performer and all-around swell guy, Sean Taylor, joins host Louis Kornfeld in the studio for an interview. A military brat growing up, Sean has called New York City home longer than anywhere else and, since moving to NYC right out of college in 1999, Sean has watched the improv boom happen first-hand. He’s gone from diehard ASSSSCAT fan to a Harold Night player to an instructor at Magnet. He and Louis discuss the underground nature of those earlier days and how the UCB seemed to bring a sense of positivity, respect, and empathy to the NYC comedy scene. Sean tells us how community plays such an important part in his life, whether it’s comedy, eating pizza, playing softball, or meeting his wife. Louis asks Sean about teaching the weekly Drop-In Class and his upcoming elective course Here, Now, discussing the difference between working with a steady group of students versus one that changes week to week and his love of discovery in two person scenes. As a teacher, he applies the debugging skills from his work as a computer programmer to classes in an effort to guide people away from fear-based choices to joy-based ones. These two vets also discuss the early days of Magnet, the difference between agreement and acceptance, and the privilege of being continually inspired by other improvisers.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #33 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Wednesday February 18, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Brandon Gardner Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

On this episode of the podcast, we welcome UCBT performer, instructor, and improv nerd Brandon Gardner into the studio to talk about college improv, his class focused on creating improvised plays, and various elements of compelling improv. Our host, Louis Kornfeld, begins the hour getting into Brandon’s vast experiences working with college improv teams and bookends the 60ish minutes by taking it all back to those formative years. In the meantime, Brandon describes why he became interested in bringing elements of theater to the improv stage and how he challenges actors to improvise and improvisers to act. For all our fellow improv nerds out there, you’ll love as Louis and Brandon parse through topics such as displaying emotion versus emoting authentically; playing to the top of your intelligence versus playing to the top of your integrity; story versus plot; and dramatic comedy versus comedic drama. These two veteran teachers trade exercises and generally advise on what is essential to playing satisfying improv scenes. Check it out!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #32 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Friday February 6, 2015, 11:45am - by Magnet Theater

NWAF Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

**SPECIAL RELEASE**

Gather around, friends! For this episode, we’ve got Carly and Justin from Now We Are Friends, a monthly variety show in New York City that features improv, sketch, and live music. They sit down with our host Louis Kornfeld to talk about their show, which is celebrating its second anniversary this Sunday, February 8th. The show’s host, Justin Morgan, and show creator/performer/producer, Carly Monardo, get into what the show means to them and we all learn the value of friendship in the arts. They discuss the long history of comedy and music sharing performance spaces, plus, Louis endorses NWAF as a refreshingly douche-free show! Huzzah!

Catch their 2nd Anniversary Show this Sunday, February 8th, at The Parkside Lounge at 9PM!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #31 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Wednesday February 4, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Poss Taylor Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Our host Louis Kornfeld sits down with Ross Taylor, director of February’s Directors Series: Shlongform, to chat about growing up in Missouri, touring with Second City, and doing comedy in NYC.  Having somewhat recently celebrated his five year anniversary of NYC and improv, Ross tells Louis about getting his start in hometown Missouri with speech and debate before moving on to do theater at Mizzou and later getting into comedy. Regarding his show Shlongform, Ross talks about why he’s marrying short form with long form and our duo discusses the historic attitudes towards short form in NYC. Having both done tours with Second City’s cruise ship ensembles, Louis and Ross dive into their experiences entertaining folks on Norwegian Cruise Line boats and how those experiences translate back to their work in New York. Ross also chats about working with his long-running team The Wrath and divulges how to keep a team strong and inspiring. Plus, Louis asks Ross about The Oakwood Boys, his religious country music duo, and the guys talk about the collegiate feel of the improv community. Tune in!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #30 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Wednesday January 28, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

J&L Podcast Updated Subscribe with iTunes

Hosts of Magnet Theater’s monthly character show, Jana & Lauren Presents, Jana Schmieding and Lauren Olson have a long history of collaboration, dating back to their days at University of Oregon all the way to today. Our two guests sit down with host Louis Kornfeld to discuss improvising from their guts, their creative processes, and what they think makes for the best kind of comedy. They walk us through the genesis of Jana & Lauren Presents as a place to hone and showcase their character skills and how they encourage everyone to create and perform characters that push the risk factor onstage. Louis asks Jana & Lauren about their respective solo shows and they chat about finding your karass. Jana has invented a made-up word and Louis reveals his only successful character to date! Tune in to find out both!!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #29 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Friday January 23, 2015, 10:59am - by Magnet Theater

MVL_Round3_Web_273x475-2 large_anniequick

Magnet Video Lab premieres its third season on Sunday at 6pm, so we thought we’d catch up with Annie Quick, one of the driving forces behind the entire operation (along with Jim Turner and everyone’s favorite friend, Armando Diaz). We asked her a few questions over email and she was kind enough to give her insights on what makes a great video, how MVL has grown, and how important deadlines are to the process (spoiler alert: very important). Check it out!

1. Why did you start the Magnet Video Lab?
I took Sketch Level 1 & 2 at Magnet and loved the structure of it—it’s a great way to get feedback and have writing deadlines. At some point I realized that’s what I needed for a few video projects I was working on—the self-generated films that were suffering from lack of a formal work structure.

Since Jim Turner and I both work in production and he’s also at Magnet, we thought it might make sense to start a group in the style of Magnet’s sketch writing classes. Our main goal was to have each participant come out of the ten-week session with a completed video.

2. What’s a Video Lab?
At one point, Jim had pointed out we were essentially creating a salon where creators come for mutual support, but in the end we decided that lab is a better handle—it involves assignments and deadlines and an expectation that you’re obliged to show up because your lab partners are counting on you.

Jim and I spent a lot of time talking about the roadblocks we encounter when we’re working on our own films. All steps of the process are challenging. At any stage a project can flounder from lack of labor, feedback, gear, time, etc. The thing that sinks most film projects, though, is the lack of a real deadline. That’s the main thing we wanted to give everyone.

We also thought about how a beginner might dip their toes into the water and gain knowledge and confidence in the process. The Video Lab is a place where beginners and experts help each other bring their projects to life. Everyone rolls up their sleeves and pitches in.

3. What’s your favorite thing about the Magnet Video Lab?
I love that we are all working on our own things.  I know that other groups exist where everyone works on the same video together, and that’s cool too, but I think the Magnet’s program is unique because we support the individual filmmaker and help them to bring their own ideas into the world.

For me, that’s been educational because I’ve had to wear so many hats that wouldn’t if we were all working on one film. So, for instance, this session I helped one of my labmates with costuming and another session I was a DP, and for others I’ve helped out in audio.

I also take a lot away from watching other people go from blank page to done. Films are so time consuming to make, and so it’s really inspiring to be around a group of people who are finishing their stuff, and making great stuff!

4. How has MVL grown?
It’s been a trial and error process, taking a group of strangers and making them into a video-making team. At the beginning I thought of it as mostly a creative project, but it quickly turned into a lesson in group management. Jim and I have spent a lot of time tweaking the process and getting feedback from the Lab members so that each session is a bit smoother than the last. There are a crazy amount of details to handle when you have ten weeks and seven films to make.

In the first two sessions we kept it very small—only seven participants, so that we could beta test the process and figure out what we were doing. That first session Armando helped us to sort out a structure and also came to our table reads for feedback on our scripts.

In the third session our goal was to scale up a bit. We wanted to see if we could keep the level of engagement with a bigger group. We also wanted to add new people with different skill sets and experience levels. So far it’s been working great! It’s been both productive and friendly, and a great stretch for all of us.

The great thing about Magnet is that people come with comedy and story skills so even if someone doesn’t have any production knowledge, they still have a lot of useful feedback to give and a lot of talent to draw on.

5. What is your role?
I am part teacher, part student, part manager, part strategizer, part director, part production assistant. The first two sessions I did a lot of  teaching about editing and post production, while Jim handled a lot of the shooting guidance. In our third session, people are more up to speed in those areas and we can be a little more hands off.

6. What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to comedians creating their own videos?
Is it okay if I have three? I can’t pick just one.

First, learn to edit. It’s the most time-consuming part of filmmaking and the hardest to get someone else to do well. If you learn to edit you can control the pacing and, essentially, how funny something is. It’s also the point where a lot of projects get derailed. If you’re controlling that step you can make sure it gets out there.

Second, I’d say pay attention to capturing good audio. If, as a beginner, you learn that well, your videos will be 30% more credible right out of the gate.

Third, remember film is different than live. It’s pretty hard to retrofit stage pieces or improv into a watchable video. So start from scratch and write for film, at least while you’re in the beginning stages.

7. What’s your favorite internet video of all time?
Maybe this is cliché, but I’m standing by Dramatic Chipmunk. Love that guy.

Once again, thanks to Annie for all this awesome info! Don’t miss the screening of Magnet Video Lab’s third season this Sunday at 6pm. Did we mention it’s free? Because it is. See you there!

Wednesday January 21, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Oscarm Montoya Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

From his young days dancing cumbia in Colombia through his college years at SUNY Purchase and onto his professional life as a comedian in NYC, Oscar Montoya has always kept it real. He joins host Louis Kornfeld on this week’s episode of the podcast to discuss the college they both attended,  transitioning from a world of dance into one of comedy, and what he finds most important in improv. Oscar talks about opening up to improv as an art and allowing improv to open him up as a person. Louis asks him about his monthly variety show, Ethnic Realness, and they chat about the importance of improvising because you want something that speaks to you and how adding more voices to the mix only makes it relate to more people. Communication in king in Oscar’s world and he forces us to posit: Improv has to speak to you, or else, why would you do it?

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #28 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.