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Posts Tagged ‘rick andrews’

Friday April 3, 2015, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Magnet, Sulaiman Beg and Kelly Donahue have developed an Oral History of the Magnet Theater.

The full story will be released in early April, but over the coming weeks we will be releasing some interesting stories that didn’t make the final cut.

The first in this series is a profile on how the teachers & founders first discovered improv in their own lives. Read Part 1 here.



Herbstman: You know that last thing you think about before you go to bed is usually different every night. For me it was the same thing every night. It was, I’ve got to audition and get into Second City. It became pretty consuming for me. I cared about it a lot. My stomach would be turning. It worked out. I auditioned and they hired me.

Andrews: I just loved it. I just thought it was so much fun. I had never done any theater, I had never done anything artistic of any kind. But i was just super fun. I was really bad at it because I had terrible ADD I couldn’t focus on anything. It was a nice challenge for me to have to learn how to listen, to get good at that. I just remember it was one of my favorite things to do.

Herbstman: After I did five levels with Razwowsky he was like, now do you really want to learn how to do this? And he told me to go study at IO with Del. And I did. At 17, I went and took my first class with Charna.

Diaz: Back then, Improv Olympic would just take up residency in some bar. I didn’t question it back then, it was just kind of like, of course, that’s how you take comedy classes. Having started a theater, I realized wow, she had to do whatever she had to. It was just kind of like, a very gypsy kind of existence.

Herbstman: My iO Level 1 class was Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Neil Flynn, Ali Farahnakian, John Rosenfeld, Andrew Moskos — those guys started Boom Chicago. Shortly thereafter, maybe 6-8 months after that there was Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Rachel Dratch was performing there and also taking classes. There were under 50 people doing iO at the time.

Diaz: Del was just teaching the last level. You got into Del’s class and then you stayed in Del’s class forever. There was no graduation. You kept on showing up Monday night. There were like 30 people in the class, people on house teams.

Herbstman: I chose to go to Northwestern because they had a great improv group there that I wanted to be a part of and I also wanted to continue taking classes at IO, which I did all through college. Pretty much just wanted to get into Second City. That was my only goal. College was mostly just how do I get more stage time and do more improv and get better at it so I can be prepared for my Second City audition.

Diaz: Sometimes guests would come by. I remember [Chris] Farley, he graduated from IO and then was cast in Second City and he was doing Second City Mainstage, I remember him showing up and then sitting in on Del’s class. That was such an insane experience because it was Del in the first place which, he was was so scary, and smart, and such an authority. And you had all these other people that were amazing improvisers. You felt like, “What am I doing here? I’m just a freshman and here’s all these seniors.”

Andrews: In high school, my friend and I were annoying in improv and a lot of people didn’t really like us, contrary to how they might remember it now. We auditioned every year for everything. We didn’t get cast in anything. Nobody ever asked us to be in a group with them. The first time I ever got cast to be in a group with other people was when I went to college and that was after I was doing improv for like seven years. The team was called Suspicious of Whistlers, which is not a good name.

McNerney: I went in and I auditioned for The Meow Show at Northwestern, and I didn’t know it, but they had combined their auditions with this new long form group, called Titanic Players and so I accidentally auditioned for that. I came for The Meow Show. I didn’t know what long form was. But I got cast on the Titanic Players. My sophomore year there was a new freshman group cast and I became the first assistant director. Junior year I became a coach, and I cast Nick Kanellis on the next freshman team. He and Matt B. Weir, and Zoe Garmin from the Mindy Project were all on that team. My senior year, Russ Armstrong and Nick were in The Meow Show with me.

Marino: Ed was at iO West when I got there. I saw him onstage a bunch of times there. I thought he was great. I was like, who the fuck is that guy? This guy’s great. He sat in with a group called Tiny Hostages that did The Movie. They did that on a night that I performed. I auditioned for a Harold team at IO. Didn’t get on one. Not getting on a Harold team put me on a path to expedite my move out to New York, to do so as soon as possible. I moved there in 2003.

McNerney: I moved to New York in 2005. I knew I was going to do improv. I knew UCB was out here. I drove all my stuff out here the week before graduation, dropped my stuff off at my sublet and then drove to my Level 1 with Chris Gethard and then the next day drove back to graduate. And then the day after graduation, flew back to take my second class.

Andrews: I moved to New York in 2009 to do grad school. This was a point where I was like, I need to keep doing improv. I applied to PHD programs. But, I only applied to grad schools in New York and Chicago, so that I could keep doing improv which should have been a pretty good sign of, hey, just go do your thing.

Wednesday April 1, 2015, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Magnet, Sulaiman Beg and Kelly Donahue have developed an Oral History of the Magnet Theater.

The full story will be released in early April, but over the coming weeks we will be releasing some interesting stories that didn’t make the final cut.

The first in this series is a profile on how the teachers & founders first discovered improv in their own lives.



Armando Diaz: I grew up in Illinois, south suburbs Chicago, a place called Country Club hills. It was a regular old suburb. There weren’t really country clubs. I had this friend in high school, Kevin Dorff, who kind of woke up comedy in me. He was voted class clown. Really funny guy. We’d write little sketches back and forth during class. I didn’t realize they were sketches back then.

Ed Herbstman: I lived in the suburbs of Chicago and about fifteen to twenty minutes away from my house by car was Second City. We would go to the improv sets on weekends. The weekend sets were 10:30 – 11:00 on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. We went to every single one.

Diaz: I was in film school at Columbia College, in the program they had suggested if you’re interested in being a director, one thing you want to do is take an acting class from the acting department. I took a class and the teacher had graduated from the Second City training. He was a traditional actor but he would have us do a lot of improv in the class. That was fun. I had never done that before.

Alex Marino: My counselor at church camp in high school was a guy named Michael Lewis, he introduced me to improv. He was really involved with a short form troupe called Comedy Sportz, which had a franchise, weirdly, in Bakersfield, California, where I grew up. I got on my high school Comedy Sportz team, and if you got on, every Saturday you would meet for a couple hours next to a comic book store, in an abandoned tanning salon, and do improv.

Rick Andrews: My dad found some listing for ImprovBoston, when I was 11 or 12. They used to have Sunday afternoon shows, which was a terrible idea. We went down and saw a show, and no one was there but my family. They weren’t even supposed to do the show, they were supposed to cancel if it was less than ten people. But they did the show. It was great. In my mind, it was great.

Louis Kornfeld: My senior prom, myself, Charlie Whitcroft and Corey Grimes decided not to go to prom. Instead, we pooled our money and got a hotel room together. We got like a bottle of whiskey, and that was our night. Megan came too. The next day, we had some time before we had to check out, so we walked around the neighborhood a bit. This was like on 22nd Street. We were walking and we just happened to bump into the UCB 4 who were all outside smoking outside of their old theater. They’d just opened it.

Megan Gray: We would go in to see UCB shows in high school. We had heard they have teen classes and we were like ahh, I don’t know. We were always too scared, or we didn’t have time. We were making videos and stuff.

Peter McNerney: I had done a little short form in theater class in middle school and high school. My first week at Northwestern, I saw The Meow Show, which was this historic short form and sketch show that’s been around since the 70s. Ed was in it, and Melanie Hoopes and Rachel Hamilton and Julia Louis Dreyfus. It was this big deal show and I saw that and I was like I want to do that!

Gray: I was a dramatic writing/screenwriting major, and I had read somewhere that Conan O’Brien had said improv is a good way for writers to get over writer’s block so I thought that would be really cool.

Kornfeld: Megan’s dad signed us up for UCB Level 1 in October 2003. Me and Megan, and Corey and Charlie. And in that class we met Kelly Buttermore and Jon Bander. We also met Damon Ketron in Level 2.

Herbstman: When I got a car at 16, I would just go by myself and be one of the weirdos that was in line for every show and would see every show. At that time it was Dave Razowsky, Steve Carell, Amy Sedaris. I had just missed Colbert. It was just awesome. I mean imagine seeing Steve Carell four nights a week do improv. And Dave Razowsky who’s just awesome. And them doing it together. It was just really funny.

Diaz: I ran into Kevin Dorff one day and he had just gone to see a show at Improv Olympic that his sister recommended. He mentioned it to me and said, “Hey you gotta take this class.” It was with Charna. We went to this German bar, and it’s empty. It’s Wednesday night at 7:00. There’s no internet, everything is done by phone. We sat there for 20 minutes, and nobody showed up. It was just me and Kevin and the German bartender. Finally, […] Charna called the bar and was like, oh we’re pushing back the class a week. I don’t know why we did, but we came back the next week and people showed up and we had our first class and it was just like.. By the end both of us were just like, totally excited, totally pumped. It was great.

Herbstman: I was seeing so many shows at Second City, eventually they were like you could take classes here, and I was like, are you kidding me? I got a job tearing tickets, being a house manager, seating people. Suddenly, I was working there on the weekend and that meant free classes for me. So I would seat people and watch every single show, because I had to sit there and watch the show while the show was going on which was great.

Andrews: I kept seeing a bunch of of shows at ImprovBoston, and the AD was just like, take our class. He popped my friend Mike and I into their adult classes. So it was two 12-year old boys and a bunch of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. We were annoying. We were mature for 12, but the would put us at, like, 15.

Marino: When I got a car, and was able to drive myself there, I went and started taking classes in LA at iO West. I lived in my car for awhile in Los Angeles, just taking classes at IO, until some people in one of my classes learned that and was like, don’t do that, you shouldn’t do that, you should come live with me. And they put me up on couches.

Herbstman: My teacher for Level 1 and Level 2 was Dave Razowsky. Level 3 was Steve Carell. I had Level 4 and 5 with Dave Razowsky again. It was great. And I was 16-17, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life or where to go to school or wherever but I knew improv was the one core fundamental thing that I wanted it all to revolve around.

Continue to Part 2…

Thursday December 4, 2014, 6:13pm - by evan barden

For over four years, Brick has entertained Megawatt audiences each week with their hilarious, multifaceted attack and undeniable originality and last night, the Magnet community gave them the send-off they deserved.

With a full hour at their disposal, Brick began their set with a slideshow capturing the chemistry of a team that has spent over four years together and retained six of their eight original members with two delightful additions along the way. (They even had former member Tim Eberle cheering them on from the audience, showing the support that helped define such a team.) After the slideshow, the lights dimmed, Helter Skelter dropped in, rising in volume as the cast banged against the backstage wall, and Brick finally entered to do what they do best — give one hell of an improv show.

The ensuing set from Brick’s Rick Andrews, Julia Hynes, Joe Miles, Branson Reese, Amie Roe, Jamaal Sedayao, Caitlin Steitzer, and Jed Teres was filled with hilarity and indicative of a team that not only knows how to have fun with each other, but are also experts of the form. As the show reached its anticipated climax, the lights came down and the audience burst into a display of appreciation. The praise continued for the rest of the night and we’re sure the conversations about them will continue for years.

From their beginnings as “New Team Brick” to their Oh Shit! INSPIRADO throwdown to their string of “new form” shows, Brick has been a darling of Megawatt and improv at Magnet, and they will surely be missed.

Check out the videos and photos below from last night!

Tuesday July 29, 2014, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

Greg Hessmagnetituneslogo-PODCASTmedium

Greg Hess is an actor, writer and comedian in Los Angeles. He is an improviser with The Improvised Shakespeare Company, Cook Country Social Club and performs at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade in LA.

Greg talks with guest host Rick Andrews about making a living as an improviser and how he’s been ‘giving it a year for the last eleven years.’

Rick confesses that he felt like quitting improv after seeing an Improvised Shakespeare Company show.  But Rick didn’t.  And now he’s hosting this great interview!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #10 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Tuesday July 8, 2014, 1:21pm - by Magnet Theater

Frank SpitznagelSubscribe with iTunes!

Louis Kornfeld interviews Magnet Musical Director Frank Spitznagel! They talk about everything from Annie to Zorba including musical theater, musical improv, and what makes a good scene- all while Rick Andrews laughs loudly in the background!

Subscribe and Listen with iTunes!

Or listen below on SoundCloud…

Monday March 31, 2014, 8:21pm - by Magnet Theater

magnet co-owners survey the new space
Magnet Theater is excited to announce that it will be moving to a new location this coming fall.

In November, the Magnet will take over the Foxwoods Theater, most recently the home of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Armando Diaz, co-owner of Magnet, spoke on the need for a new space, saying “The Magnet community has been growing at an exponential rate, so we’re looking to plan not just for the immediate future, but also for what’s beyond the horizon, like in a couple hundred years.  If you filled up our current space to capacity, it’d only take up the first row at the Foxwoods.  So, the house might feel small in the beginning, but as the word gets out that there’s plenty of room, I’m confident that we’ll sell out all 1,932 seats, especially to non-English speaking tourists.”

Alex Marino, another of the Magnet’s owners added:

“One of the great things about moving into the Foxwoods Theater is we’ll have our office space, training center, and main stage and my apartment all in one central location.  So often our new students would get lost when directed from the theater to the Training Center for student shows, and then to my apartment for banjo jam sessions. Now it’ll all take place in one space – a space with a lot of  good energy because of all the great things that happened during the run of Spider Man.”

Of course, with a new, much larger space will be some inevitable changes.  All shows will have a 35 intern team of stage hands.  Performers will have access to four state of the art green rooms before their shows. And everyone must be an Actors Equity performer in order to appear on the stage.

The only planned renovation to this legendary theater is to immediately remove all bathrooms except one near the stage.

Another change will be the tickets prices, which will go up slightly from $5-$10 to $125 for balcony seating to $225 for orchestra seats (though Megawatt and Thursday Night Out admission will remain at $7 for the entire night).

Alan Fessenden, Magnet performer and instructor, noted his excitement about the move.  “I love the monoscene, but when you ask for ‘a location that’ll fit on this stage’ you’re limited by the size of the stage.  With the new theater, we can do a whole submarine instead of just the bridge of a submarine.  It really opens up the possibilities for all shows, but especially for monoscenes about submarines.”

When Ed Herbstman, the third Magnet owner, was asked about the move, he said, “I own a theater?”

One concern was voiced by Louis Kornfeld, Artistic Director of Megawatt.  “This new stage is massive compared to the old stage, so sweep edits are going to be problematic.  Not only will the timing be off, but the editor may very well be winded after the edit, especially improvisors who are out of shape, which includes all of them.”

Magnet is immensely ready for the move and excited to announce that the first show in the new space will be Rick Andrew’s Level One Class Show! Stay tuned for more details!

Tuesday November 5, 2013, 5:46pm - by WillyAppelman


1. The Director’s Series Presents The Wake (improv)- Thursdays at 9pm: Alex Marino directs “The Wake”, an improv show inspired by the name of a recently deceased person.

2. Croft & Pearce (sketch)- Monday, Nov. 11th at 7pm: For one night only, top-rated British sketch comedians Croft & Pearce will be exploring some of life’s enduring mysteries, such as: is it ever too late? (yes), am I worth more than this? (no), should I tweet about this experience? (obviously).

3. Weekend of Regret & Pepita (improv & solo improv)- Monday, Nov. 11th at 8:30pm: 5 of New York’s top improvisers are paired with Pepita, the fictional alter-ego of Magnet Theater performer and instructor, Elana Fishbein.

4. Magnet Sketch Teams (sketch)- Sundays at 7:30pm: Homegrown sketch groups craft some of the most intelligent and hilarious sketch comedy New York, nay The World, has ever seen.

5. Jamaal Sedayao: Born To Karaoke (solo sketch)- Sunday, Nov. 17th at 9pm: In Japanese, “karaoke” means “empty orchestra.” And in Swahili “karaoke” means “having a good time”. Jamaal hopes you have the latter at this show.

6. Legend (musical improv)- Tuesday, Nov. 26th at 9pm: Seasoned Magnet Musical Improv Team, Legend, will blow you away with a completely improvised musical.

7. Kornfeld & Andrews (improv)- Saturday, Nov. 30th at 10:30pm: Magnet Instructors and performers and super cool dudes Louis Kornfeld and Rick Andrews pair together for one night of magical improvisation.

Wednesday August 1, 2012, 1:27pm - by WillyAppelman

Thursdays at 10pm in August!

This Thursday at 10pm is the debut of “The Weave” directed by Rick Andrews!   The show is the latest installment of the Magnet Theater’s Director Series, a monthly series of performances where a director presents a different improv form with a completely different cast.  The only rule is that there are no rules.  Watch Magnet’s best improvisers perform organic freeform improvisation in two mind blowing parts!  Featuring: Russ Armstrong, Peter McNerney, Chet Siegel, Alan Fessenden, Frank Bonomo, Alex Marino and Special Guests!

For more information, take a look at our Facebook event!

Join us afterwards for a special opening night party at Smithfield!



Wednesday April 18, 2012, 9:04pm - by admin

In celebration of its 7th Anniversary, Magnet held its first completely ridiculous and ironically meaningful award ceremony. It was the 1st Annual Maggie Awards and everyone played fell into their appropriate roles immediately; the winners were falsely modest and the nominees who lost pretended it was an honor just to be nominated. The presenters were sharp and read the prompter with varying degrees of skill and self conscious sexiness.

Here are some moments from the ceremony for those of you in the community who couldn’t be there, and those of you who were there and aren’t sure this actually happened.  Enjoy

Here is a video of the opening number.  Peter McNerney was our Billy Crystal, accompanied by Steve Whyte and  Joel Esher.  Also appearing in the opening number were Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders and Santa Claus. 

Click after the jump for the complete list of nominees and winners.


Thursday July 7, 2011, 3:08pm - by admin

Catch the debut of the Magnet Theater Touring Company tonight in “Playhouse” at 8pm—a great start to Thursday Night Out!