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

Posts Tagged ‘sketch comedy’

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

Jeffrey Sweet podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Whoa boy — we’ve got an interview with the one and only Jeffrey Sweet! The famed playwright, historian, and author of Something Wonderful Right Away joins host Louis Kornfeld for this extended episode of the podcast. They start out by discussing the relationship between the Jews fleeing the Cossacks and the rise of satire in America. Jeffrey talks about the origins of improvisation with The Committee and Second City, highlighting some differences between the two as well as  commenting on folks like David Shepherd and Del Close. Time is spent discussing the six heavy hitters that the improv world lost in 2014: Sheldon Patinkin, Gary Goodrow, Ted Flicker, Harold Ramis, Mike Nichols, and Joan Rivers. They also get into the domino effect of Something Wonderful Right Away influencing Mick Napier and Charna Halpern to develop their theaters and how Jeffrey might be the illegitimate grandfather of the long-form improv scene in NYC. Jeffrey also talks about how Stephen Colbert and John Stewart are so important to the comedic and political landscape today and gives us his take on the modern incarnation of SNL. The interview continues to discuss the link between improvisational theater and folk art and how the satirists have now become a part of the system. It’s an episode filled with so much historical, political, and cultural discourse that Jeffrey pauses several times over the course of this interview to ask, “We are talking about comedy, right?” Indeed, we are.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.

Or simply enjoy Episode #37 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 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

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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!

Monday January 19, 2015, 2:00pm - by Magnet Theater

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  USA-NYC-Koreatown99

We’ve got a brand-new training center! We’re so excited!

As of Saturday, Jan. 24, we’ll be beginning the process of moving classes, rehearsals, writing meetings, etc. over to our new space at 22 W. 32nd Street on the 10th floor. Things might be a little hectic for a while, so please bear with us, but we’ll do our best to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone.

What does all this mean? We now have 10 classrooms, a studio theater, a dedicated writers’ room and more than two bathrooms (so luxurious!). Simply put, it’s a bigger, better space to keep up with our growing needs as a training ground for the best comedic minds in the world.

This is a new, exciting chapter for us and it wouldn’t be possible without your enthusiasm, hard work, and continued brilliance.

Thanks for being the best community around. Stop by and check out the new digs when you can!

Wednesday January 14, 2015, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater

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Sketch Club is a drop-in sketch writing workshop devoted to qualified sketch students and performers who are interested in developing and performing their own material. The drop-in will meet on Saturdays 3-6pm beginning February 7th. Members of Sketch Club will workshop original sketches every week at a table read run by Armando Diaz. Participants will be encouraged to try out their sketches at the soon-to-premiere “Generator” show on Sundays at 6pm. Interested in participating? Email SketchClub@magnettheater.com for more information!

Wednesday January 14, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Branson Reese Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

 

The Devil himself, Branson Reese, joins us on this episode of the podcast as he sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to discuss performing for children, the links between rock music and improv, and why he hates the term “flawless.” Branson tells us about his work with Story Pirates and why children make the most honest audiences. He and Louis also get into the topic of process as product as it relates to both improv and rock and roll and Branson pitches a book that everyone should read. You’ll hear all about Branson’s work with sketch team The Junk Brothers, plus his philosophical take on mythological tricksters like Loki, and of course, the Devil.

Extra Bonus: Find out why Branson screams in all of his shows!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #27 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Monday January 12, 2015, 4:43pm - by Megan Gray

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Hold on to your NuvaRings. The Lady Sketch Show is back—and this year, we want YOU to help us make it bigger and better than ever!

Here’s how it’ll work:

We’ll be meeting on Saturdays 12-3 at the new Magnet Training Center (22 West 32nd Street, 10th floor) for six weeks starting January 31st.

You’ll bring in a mix of new and rewritten sketches each week (1 or 2). We’ll give each other feedback for rewrites. The best sketches will be put into the final shows (March 16th, 23rd and 30th at 7pm).

For the first meeting all we ask is that you bring in is:

1. An example of a sketch that you saw on TV or staged and why you love it.
2. An example of something that happened in your day/week/month/life that you thought was really funny. Anything.

THAT’S IT! You don’t even have to write anything just yet. Give it a try.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:

But I’ve never written sketch or taken a sketch class.
That’s totally fine. We still want you.

But I really can’t write. Can I just perform?
You can get involved as a performer only. Come to the meeting anyway. You might find yourself accidentally writing something amazing.

But I can’t perform/memorize lines.
You can just write then.

I write better with a partner. I can’t do this on my own.
You and your (female) partner can present co-written material at meetings. Alternatively, if you realize you really like working with someone at the meetings, you can go off and write together.

I can’t make all the meetings.
Come when you can. What ends up in the show will be the best material, meaning it will probably have been presented to the group and rewritten a number of times, but feel free to show up when you can.

Is this going to be a comedy show only about periods and tampons?
No, it will be about whatever you decide to write.

But I’m still scared.
Follow your fear. Remember how hard improv used to seem before you actually tried it?

More questions?
Email: megan@magnettheater.com

See you there,
Amanda Xeller, Megan Gray & Chet Siegel

 

 

Monday December 22, 2014, 9:11pm - by Megan Gray

sketch teams logo  81772966

Congratulations to the newest Magnet Sketch Teams and the newest additions to Action Park and Baby Shoes:

NEW TEAM NICHOLS directed by Rob Webber
Kim Ferguson
Becca Schall
Lane Kwederis
Brandon Lisy
Matt Alspaugh
Kelly Kreye
Alex Kane
Patrick Haggerty
Lex Morales

NEW TEAM MAY directed by Jana Schmieding
Pratima Mani
Rosie Whalen
Elena Skopetos
Jesse Mudrick
Ross Taylor
Jimmy O’Connell
Andrew Mills
Ari Miller
Trumane Alston

 

Tuesday December 16, 2014, 8:05pm - by Magnet Theater

Jesse Acini Podcast magnetituneslogo-PODCASTmedium

Sketch writer, actor, and improviser Jesse Acini sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to talk about getting his start in comedy, the growth of the Magnet community, and having more fun along the way. An active participant in the NYC improv and sketch scene since the early 2000s, Jesse talks about The Second City in NYC, discusses studying with Gary Austin, and otherwise litters this episode with tidbits about the olden days. Not to mention, he provides some solid advice for aspiring sketch writers! Jesse and Louis have  known each other for eight years and this is the longest conversation they’ve ever had — you don’t want to miss it!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #25 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

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