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

Posts Tagged ‘nyc’

Wednesday December 21, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

eleanor-lewis-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Friendship Club founder and genius-level baby, ELEANOR LEWIS, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss the best improv exercises, how modern comedies fall short, and why mixers are so wonderful. There’s oodles of improv talk in this one and, by golly, that’s probably why you’re here. Plus, they do some two-person monologue hotspot and Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of [Redacted] Water.

This episode begins with a rarely heard cold open as Eleanor and Louis discuss hot spot, one of the very first warm-ups most improvisors encounter. They debate whether or not it’s a good exercise for a class, or even for a team, to use. They talk about ego in improv, both its destructive and creative tendencies, and Louis offers the theory that the ego of the character and the comedy of the scene are intertwined. He then asks which improv exercises Eleanor really loves. They get into talking movies, where modern comedies fail us, and the greatest comedic strengths of film versus improv. Plus, they ask the question on everyone’s mind: Is Branson Reese the ideal improvisor?

They also partake in a rousing rendition of Getting To Know Each Other in which many great topics pop up. Louis shares his ULTIMATE BELIEF and Eleanor discloses her FAVORITE IMPROV THING! I mean, these are huge. The episode wraps up as Eleanor and Louis discuss shock-value comedy and hosting the Thursday Magnet Mixers, which you should all attend! Finally, Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of Nestle Pure Water even though Nestle is a horrible company and we don’t endorse them. Superman sucks too!

eleanor-lewis-pickles

Wednesday December 14, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

lane-kwederis-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

She’s all over the stage and screen and now LANE KWEDERIS joins us to discuss musical theater, audition wisdom, and her favorite moments from working in TV! From the Boston Conservatory to your cable box, Lane has accumulated a wealth of experience, which she shares on this episode as she and Louis discuss her career and life as an actor and comedian. Like Louis, you have perhaps never met Lane before, but you’ll love her after an hour! Catch Lane every Tuesday on Musical Megawatt with Public Pool and on Mondays with sketch team The Executives!!

This episode begins with Louis admitting that he and Lane just met for the first time! It seems as though they’ve been ships passing in the improv night for years now. In order to get fully acquainted, Louis asks how Lane ended up as a performer. She talks about studying musical theater at Boston Conservatory and working in theater soon thereafter. So, how’s she get into improv? Spoiler: It involves a casting director’s suggestion and a new passion. Lane and Louis discuss the rigid musical theater machine versus the more welcoming world of comedy. Despite her initial interest in live theater, Lane is mostly working in film and TV these days. Louis asks a number of nerdy, technical acting and audition questions and Lane answers, giving particular attention to comedic choices. This is helpful information for those interested in that kind of work!

Jumping back, Louis asks Lane if she always knew that performance was her life’s calling, and while she says that indeed, it was, she also mentions how she once wanted to be a veterinarian. As such, she and Louis discuss cute animals (see cat above), Lane’s playful nature, and the archetypes of children. Lane also talks about the fun of performing in Urinetown as a senior in college and how she really loved the comedic aspects of it.

To bring us fully up to speed with Lane’s acting career, Louis asks her to share a couple quick hits from her television appearances. She tells of what it was like to film on Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and of a parlor trick gone wrong while shooting Netflix’s “The Characters” with Tim Robinson. Finally, Louis asks Lane about the comedy that she writes and creates herself – what makes her laugh? – and they mull over some best-case Disney princess scenarios.

Plus! We bring you new editions of both Getting To Know Each Other and A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles!

lane-and-louis-pickles

Wednesday December 7, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

sam-rogal-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Boy made of metal and Friday Night favorite, SAM ROGAL, stops in to discuss performing arts camp, team chemistry, and his lifelong comedy partner, Pat May. Sam was hooked on comedy at a young age and made it a goal of his to get to NYC where (surprise!) he finally made it and has since performed on Megawatt, the Friday Night Sh*w, with Story Pirates, and countless other stages and shows in this great city. He shares all kinds of wonderful secrets in this episode and you’re just going to eat it up!

We begin this episode with Sam talking about his years spent attending Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp and how it changed his life. He talks about the training he received there and makes sure to drop a bunch of names. Sam recalls trying to impress counselor Becky Drysdale (Baskets, Key & Peele) as a CIT and how excellent she was to watch and work with. Louis and Sam talk about teenagers improvising, both from the perspective of being a teenager and what it’s like as an adult looking back. They also discuss Pat May’s certain something. It’s impossible to describe, but they try. Sam tells us about getting hooked on comedy as a teenager and how the idea of moving to NYC stuck with him into adulthood.

Talking improv, Sam relates that he often smiles or laughs in shows (and gets noted on it) because he’s having such a great time. He thinks there’s room for really enjoying yourself, even while working on commitment. Of course, we gotta talk about Metal Boy – Sam’s #1 Megawatt team. He describes what it’s like to find your team after being cut from others and he just has to mention his best boy Pat May again. He posits that an improv team is like a basketball team and preaches the virtues of simplifying scenes before making them insane. He and Louis also discuss how to keep a team consistent as it also evolves. Part of what helps make that evolution possible is talking openly and honestly with your team, which is also good advice for romantic partners. Speaking of, Louis asks Sam to talk about Elena Skopetos, his girlfriend, and well, you’ve just gotta listen. It’s adorable. Finally, Sam and Louis discuss the improv community’s evolving approach on how it deals with sensitive topics.

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

derrence-washington-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

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