Posts Tagged ‘sketch’
The Magnet Theater Podcast triumphantly returns from a late-summer respite with a glorious episode featuring Magnet performer, gamer, Training Center House Manager, and boy made of metal, PAT MAY. He sits down with host Louis Kornfeld for a sweaty conversation all about going to comedy camp, his approach to improv scenes, and how he seeks to create shows that are truly for the audience. He also discusses writing and performing sketch comedy, TV Party Tonight, and his incessant self-deprecation.
Louis begins this episode by asking Pat about his summers spent at Buck’s Rock Performing & Creative Arts Camp and doing comedy for the first time at age 16. At Buck’s Rock, Pat met a lot of folks now in the comedy world like Rebecca Drysdale, Louie Pearlman, Griffin Newman, and Sam Rogal. He grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, which allowed him to do some open mics in NYC as a teenager, but the stand-up environment soon turned him off. Pat believes that the open mics he went to were like YouTube commenters in a circle jerk, which is a beautiful analogy.
It didn’t sit well with him that people simply wanted to be funny, or simply to be funny to themselves. When performing or putting up a show, Pat always tries to think: “What would make someone get off their couch and come out to the theater?” He loves to make things that people genuinely enjoy. Pat tells of a recent show he put up to which zero people showed up and gets into the topic of failure. Even on his team Metal Boy, which is a sucessful team, Pat knows that he’s still going to have fuck ups. It can be frustrating to know that you’re not in control of the whole show or team, but part of that is also what’s exciting about improv.
Talking about improv mechanics, Pat has never really cared about labeling from inside the scene. It’s all about the present dynamic for him. “Who cares about labeling?” he asks. “Just improv nerds!” What does Pat think about before a show or do to prepare for it? To describe his style, Pat says that he’s not a thinker, which you might have already known if you saw his recent show where he repeatedly fell out of a window. Among the different members of Metal Boy, Louis takes particular interest in exploring Pat’s relationship with Sam Rogal, his frequent collaborate, former roommate, and longtime friend. Louis observes that Sam doesn’t let things go and Pat won’t give up on any small thing he’s doing, which often allows them to continue scenes forever. Breaking the rules of improv is one of Pat’s most favorite things. Louis thinks that if a team says they’re going to follow the fun that night, they’re doomed to fail. Pat weighs in on The Spokane as a form. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t like it.
Paying him a compliment, Louis says that Pat’s characters are always very clear and have obvious wants. What kinds of choices really click with Pat? He relates to a lot of the teaching he received from Louis and Rachel Hamilton.
Pat talks about his farts. For real. He also burps a lot. Powering through his bodily functions, Pat and Louis discuss being in the moment and having needs, wants, and drives in scenes. Both guys comment on big characters. Plus, you will learn Pat May’s improv cure-all. It’s really dumb!
Louis finally cuts through the heavy self-deprecation and asks Pat why he shits on himself all the time? Laughing at being called out, Pat claims he’s just trying to check himself and reign in his ego. He holds himself to a high standard and needs to be reminded of that.
Finally, they talk about Pat’s show TV Party Tonight and how he loves to create shows that the audience can feel a part of. TV Party Tonight is a show where Pat, his friends, and special guests watch TV and make jokes, talk to the audience, and give out free beers. For real though, Pat cannot stop burping and farting. Louis asks about translating the experience of hanging out with friends to a show meant for an audience. Pay says that performing can often be selfish, but a show like this is one that the audience too can get involved in. He really wants to make shows for other people.
Plus, these important topics:
- Do you ever feel truly great about what you’re doing in comedy? Or is ownership the best we can do?
- Pat talks about Sketch Jesus!
- Louis vamps a whole lot!
This summer, Magnet will be putting together an exciting new video project entitled “Exquisite Corpse: The Movie.” Performers, video/sound people, and video editors will collaborate to make a short comedy video that will be screened at the theater on Thursday, September 10th, 7pm. The video will be made in pieces, exquisite-corpse-style, with teams filming their pieces in the video one after another.
The first team will create a 2-minute long video (either written or improvised). They then pass that off to the second team who will have a week to continue the narrative of the first team, who will then pass it off to the third team, etc.
All Megawatt, Musical Megawatt, Thursday Night Out, Level 6: Team Performance, Circuit, and Sketch teams are encouraged to apply, as are all members of the community with video editing, filming, and sound recording skills. Teams will be given a week over the summer to film their portion of the project and will be assigned to camera/sound/editing people.
The deadline to apply is Monday, July 20th, 5pm.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
STEPH GARCIA – ON MOVING TO LA, WRITING COMEDY & BEING AN ASSISTANT ON A TV SHOW!
Comedy in New York:
Steph studied improv at the Magnet Theater through level 5, completed the sketch program, and performed on sketch teams: Alchemy, Colorado Dad and Dispacho.
She also performed on an indie improv team Gilda and on the sketch duo Firecracker, that made the web series White People Problems.
Performs weekly at the Nerdist with her improv team Pilgrim. Hosts an Entertainment Industry panel for women at the Nerdist School with fellow teammate Lindsey Barrow. Co-hosts a monthly all female mix-em-up improv show called Girl on Lady Action with Maura Ruth. She also recently wrote a web series and pilot, with Dave Warth over Skype and they are in post production of their first episode.
All while working as a writer’s PA on Selfie and now ABC’s The Catch.
How long have you been in LA?
It will be two years in October.
How does the improv scene there compare to NY?
There is just as much opportunity in LA, I just feel like it’s more spread out, and, for me, it’s a little more difficult to do. I remember jumping theater to theater in New York and here it’s different because you have a car and you have to drive and park. But there are a lot of indie theaters.
Do people tend to be members of a few different theaters or do they stick to one?
No there’s a lot of crossover here. It’s the same as in New York.
Are you primarily a writer, improviser or a sketcher?
Right now I am primarily a writer. I do perform weekly, but I’m not auditioning. I’m working on writing for TV. I got a manager out here and so I’m working on having some samples that are more TV. They have all my sketches and they have been using them to pitch, and I’m working right now with Nerdist to get the video production side up. And I’m actually hoping to get live sketch up at the Nerdist as well. I just love sketch so much, but in terms of having something to make a living off of, I want to write TV so you need to have good samples.
How hard is it now to pitch to sketch shows that are currently on the air? Do you have to know people on them?
Yeah, and that seems to be the case in general. You can still get hired off your samples and stuff, but it always helps to know somebody. I’ve gotten my last two jobs because of recommendations from people.
How did you know people in LA?
My cousin is a set designer and he worked with somebody who was working on Raising Hope at the time, and she invited me to set, which was freaking amazing, and I met the production coordinator on that. That production coordinator happened to get hired on the pilot of Selfie and gave me a chance. So for two weeks I was working on the pilot and I spoke to everybody and said ‘I want to write!’ and so when the time came around for the show, the showrunner’s assistant who was working on the pilot asked if I wanted to interview for the writer’s PA gig. And from that, the director of that pilot also directed The Catch pilot, so her assistant forwarded my resume on.
I’ll come back to your jobs, but first tell us about your writing process.
I like deadlines, so if it’s something like a writer’s program or festival deadline, that’s what feeds me. So it depends. I’ll sit on an idea for a year, and I won’t do anything with it until I see – ‘oh, someone will actually look at this.’ And I’ll sit and I’ll write it in two weeks. I don’t know why I do that, and it’s not good and no one should do that.
Do you ever set your own deadlines or does it have to be external?
I have on occasion, but it’s usually – ‘this festival deadline is this week, so my deadline is a week and a half before.’ It’s not a way to live. Don’t do it that way.
[Just now – Steph gets a pizza delivered. AND she doesn’t eat it until the end of the interview. Obviously displaying some extraordinary mental toughness required to gain writing chops in LA.]
How did you get a manager?
I have a friend of mine who I knew in New York who is an actress. She started her own production company and produced two shorts that went to some festivals, and so when I came out here, she said ‘give me sketches’. And I said ‘here you go.’ We shot some stuff, and then someone I met through her was a manager, and at the time I guess, not that I wasn’t looking – I love acting, but I came out here because I knew there was more opportunities for writing than in New York. And then when I did the CBS Diversity showcase I ran into her again, and they were opening a literary division at their management company. She said just come and meet with us and see if you like the team, so I met the team and they’re now repping me.
What did you have to send them?
I sent them so much stuff. I think I sent them an original pilot and a Bob’s Burgers spec. Then they were like ‘great, send us more stuff’, so I sent them a bunch of sketches and I sent another pilot and some shorts that I’ve written.
What I’ve heard the trend is now is to have an original pilot and if someone likes that, then they want that spec to see if you can write in somebody else’s voice.
How long does it take you to write an original pilot?
It depends. The last pilot I wrote took me two and a half weeks. But technically if you add all the time I’d been sitting on it and thinking of the story, at that point I had all the beats in my head before I sat down and started writing.
Do you show people your work? Do you have a writer’s group?
I have a writers group and then I have some other people that I bother. You can’t be precious with your writing. And that’s another thing that being on a sketch team at the Magnet definitely helped me out with, you just can not be precious with your writing.
When I’m really working on something I’ll sit down for 2 – 3 hours at a time and knock out what I can.
You mentioned Russ Armstrong was a memorable sketch director. Was there anything you learned from him that you think about today?
Russ has a really good work ethic and my favorite thing I learned from him was about keeping everything succinct and short and your jokes being real clear and not having any of that junk around it, because it just muddles the joke.
What do you mean by work ethic?
He was fantastic at giving notes and really tried to get us to memorize our sketches and then run them and run them, always e-mailing and being supportive but also saying ‘we have to get our stuff up’ and ‘does everybody have their things.’ He was always present at the meetings. Always ready to give feedback and ready to keep it moving and make sure we got as much as we could from every meeting. There wasn’t a lot of messing around, which can happen when you have a group of writers together.
You currently work as a writer’s PA. How is a writer’s PA different from a writer’s Assistant?
A writer’s assistant and a script co-ordinator, depending on the show, overlap some. A writer’s assistant generally takes notes in the room, and then because you’re (hopefully) writing down everything everybody is saying, at the end of the day you have to organize it, and so depending on the show a lot of the time the script coordinator and the assistant, they’ll kind of swap off that duty. And once the scripts come out, you’re also responsible for proofing the script and making sure that everyone gets the newest version of the script and that you’re not messing that up, and you’re also making sure there’s no typos. And then on my last job they were also dealing with intellectual property stuff. So if you want a song in there you have to deal with that too. As a writer’s PA – lunch is my biggest duty. I mean, it’s like food. It’s really a lot of food. Lunch, the kitchen, coffee. You also handle the paper and office supplies. Once scripts get going then you’re responsible for distributing the scripts. On Selfie though, because it was such a social media based show, I got to help write some things like fake yelp reviews. I also got a tweet on the show with my twitter handle, that I wrote – so that was really cool – those little things where I got to pepper in creativity.
Does everyone assume that as a writer’s PA or Assistant, you want to be a writer?
The assumption is there, and depending on the staff, both my staffs have been amazing, they’ll ask you what do you write? what’s your genre? Who do you like, what shows do you like?
Do you find writing pilots hard?
Oh yeah. Well you know what’s difficult is that balance between introducing all your characters, but also having a compelling story, because you don’t just want an episode of ‘here’s all the people you will be seeing for the rest of the season.’ There needs to be a contained story within it.
Do you get to see how much influence the showrunner has in a writer’s room and on breaking story? And does that relate to how our sketch directors are at the Magnet?
Yeah – it’s an interesting process because everything does go through them, but both showrunners that I’ve seen are very open – I mean it’s so much of a collaboration of the room, and basically what happens is you break a story, and then it’s one person’s episode so they really get to write it and then they bring it back and then you all edit it together. But then there’s this other person not in the room, that’s the studio, and that’s where the showrunner comes in. They have to go and say – ‘here’s the story we have.’ And then they get notes like ‘Oh we don’t like this, we do like this, can this be like this,’ and then the showrunner has to bring that back to the room.
Please eat pizza if you are hungry.
That’s one fun perk about being a writer, there is so much food, so you eat all day long.
How many hours do you pull a day?
The hours really depend on the show. Both shows that I’ve worked for have been pretty great with their hours. But there are others that the writers will work on until, like, midnight.
What would be your dream tv show to write on at the moment.
I have two. Last Man On Earth, and Veep.
You’re a dart champion?
Oh yeah! I was. We used to play darts in NY. I was in a league, it was every Monday night and I did that for about seven years. And I really miss it. I love this business and I love writing, but to have something that’s completely outside with a bunch of people that don’t give a shit, it’s really nice.
Last Question. What things did you wish you’d known before you moved to LA?
Unless you come out here already with rep or already with some big credits under your name, no one will really appreciate what you did in New York. And it’s a really hard thing to accept. Especially when you first get out here. Someone I know was on Broadway who came out – and it just didn’t translate. It’s something that you have to accept. And there are a lot of people here from New York, so you’re not totally starting at zero, but it’s definitely like taking two steps backwards. So that was the biggest thing for me. And you kind of accept it and you don’t have a chip on your shoulder and just keeping on working, people will recognize it, and eventually people who work with you will be like – ‘oh you’ve done all these things?’
And the other thing is parking sucks. Always give yourself 15-20 minutes just for parking wherever you’re going.
Thanks Steph! We wish you luck! You may now eat the pizza.
Interview conducted by Ally Kornfeld for Magnet Theater.
An improviser with Ariana Grande (the improv team) and founding member of BRICK, the handsome Joe Miles stops by our studio to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about discovering improv, the influence of music on his life, and touchy improv scenes. Joe talks to us about coming to NYC from Cleveland (Go Cavs!) in order to further his career as a rapper, but then discovering improv and being sucked into it. Still a drummer all these years later, Joe tells Louis how he uses music as inspiration for characters and Louis tells Joe about his past as an illustrator. We hear about Joe’s favorite music and the two men wonder if new genres will ever be invented. Also, Joe describes how he psychs himself up for a show, answers the questions of how he’s changed as a performer, and discusses BRICK’s run of shows where they did a different form each week. If that’s not enough, Louis mentions the presence of our engineer Grant, who disapproves of Louis’ musical leanings. Check it out!
We’ve been lucky to welcome so many out-of-town guests recently and we’re excited to say that our latest visitor is the incredible Jean Villepique. One of the earliest teachers and performers at Magnet, Jean was recently back in town from Los Angeles to perform in Bummers Presents: Running. Our host, Louis Kornfeld, gets the ball rolling in this episode by asking about the origin story of Bummers, Jean’s annual(ish) writing and storytelling collaboration with Rachel Hamilton, Tami Sagher, and Melanie Hoopes. She and Louis discuss catching up with good friends by performing with them and the detriments of the more typical checklist conversations people tend to have when they haven’t seen each other recently. Jean talks about her first exposure to improv doing commedia dell’arte as a teen, joining The Meow Show at Northwestern University, where she met Magnet founder Ed Herbstman, and some of her early days at iO Chicago and Second City. Louis also asks his former Level 2 teacher about her improv show Switchboard, encouraging players to take risks, her stint on The Office, and bringing personal stuff to the stage. Hear about the time someone grabbed Louis by the beard! Listen in awe as Louis pontificates that we’re more than mere mammals! Sit in wonder as these two talk about doing drugs! It’s a great episode, so give it a listen.
Or simply enjoy Episode #47 below via SoundCloud.
- commedia dell'arte
- ed herbstman
- io chicago
- Jean Villepique
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- melanie hoopes
- new york
- new york city
- Northwestern University
- rachel hamilton
- Second City
- sketch comedy
- Tami Sagher
- The Meow Show
- The Office
Where is Magnet Theater?
259 W 29th St. (at 8th Avenue)
New York, NY 10001
Where is Magnet Training Center?
22 W 32nd St. (b/t 5th Ave and B’way)
New York, NY 10001
What kind of theater are you?
We’re a comedy theater! On any given night, you might see improv, musical improv, sketch, storytelling, a character showcase—or something entirely new.. You never know what you might get (but we can guarantee it’ll be a fun night had by all).
How do I make a reservation for a show?
- Head over to our calendar and choose the show you’d like to attend. Click the “Reserve” button next to the correct date and you’ll be taken to a form where you can make up to 10 advance reservations.
- Please arrive at the Magnet box office no later than 10 minutes before show time to claim your tickets. Ten minutes before the show begins, we’ll release all advanced reservations to our stand-by patrons.
- Seating is first come, first served.
If you see a “Rez Info” button, it can mean a few things:
- All advanced reservations are gone (you can probably still get in but you won’t be able to set any tickets aside).
- You’re trying to reserve for Megawatt, Musical Megawatt or Thursday Night Out. For these shows, you can pay once and stay the whole night so we only take reservations for the first show of the evening.
- You’re trying to reserve for a class show or mixer—in which case, you’re in luck. They’re free and open to everyone!
Do you have alcohol?
Yes. We have a great selection of affordable beer and wine as well as water and soda in our lobby. Plus, friendly bartenders! We ID.
Can I record or photograph a performance?
We kindly ask that you do NOT record (video or audio) or photograph a performance without the express permission of the theater. In fact, we suggest putting your phone/camera/handheld technology away entirely! We’re all about enjoying things as they happen and being present in the moment. It’s an improv thing. But it works in this case, too.
How do I sign up for a class?
Once you click the “Classes” section in our top menu, you’ll be able to scroll down to see all our class offerings along the left side of your screen. When you choose the class you want, its details will show up on the right-hand side. Click the “Register” button and provide the required info and payment. Please note: You’re not officially registered until payment is received in full.
What if a class says “Wait List?”
This means a class has sold out. You can still attempt to sign up, but you’ll be placed on the wait list. Unfortunately, being on the wait list doesn’t guarantee a spot in the class. If a slot opens up, our School Director will go through the list, in order, until it is filled.
If I have prior training, can I skip levels?
While we love and respect our fellow improv schools, we don’t allow students with prior experience to skip levels in any of our programs. Why? We want our students to fully immerse themselves in their Magnet training and we believe that starts with the basics. Our curriculum is designed to grow your skills and confidence in a comprehensive way, whether you’re an experienced improviser or just starting out.
Can I perform at Magnet?
We have so many opportunities for rising students and curious improvisers to check out Magnet’s stage.
- Mixers: We do two improv mixers a week, one on Wednesday at 6pm and one on Thursday at 7pm. We also do a Musical Mixer once a month. They’re free and anyone can sign up!
- The Circuit: Once you complete Improv Level 3, you’re eligible to apply for The Circuit. Each season, Circuit teams are chosen by lottery from the submissions of eligible improvisers. If you’re picked, you get placed on a team of 8 players and assigned a coach. You’ll practice once a week and have a schedule of regular performances. It’s a great way to learn what it’s like to be a member of a house improv ensemble.
- We Might Just Kiss: Curated and hosted by our Artistic Director Megan Gray, We Might Just Kiss celebrates female improvisers from around the community by gathering women of all levels to play together. It’s consistently one of our hottest tickets of the month!
- The Rundown: Every Saturday at 6pm, we give some of the best indie ensembles and duos in town a chance to play on the Magnet stage. Wanna apply? Go for it!
- And more! Stay connected to the Magnet community on Facebook, Twitter and our blog to make sure you’re not missing a single opportunity.
How do I become a house performer?
It depends. To be eligible to audition for Megawatt (our house improv ensembles) you have to have completed all of Magnet’s core (Levels 1-4) and Conservatory curriculum, up to and including Team Performance Workshop. To be eligible to audition for Musical Megawatt (our house musical-improv ensembles, you must complete Musical Improv Levels 1-3. To apply for a Magnet Sketch ensemble, it is strongly recommended that you take Sketch Levels 1 and 2 but you also must complete an application and submit a writing packet. We routinely post audition signups and calls for sketch applications so keep working hard and check back often to see when you can submit!
Can I be an intern?
If you’re a current student, applying for an internship is a great idea! You’ll get to learn the ropes at the theater and training center, make new friends, and become a familiar face around the Magnet community. Plus, you’ll earn credits toward a free class. Here are the details: http://www.magnettheater.com/blog/all-about-internship-program/
Is your theater handicap accessible?
Yes, our theater is able to accommodate most of our guests’ needs. Please feel free to call our box office at (212) 244-8824 in advance, and we’ll happily address any of your questions or concerns.
Are your shows suitable for children?
Since so many of our shows are created in the moment, there is no guarantee for what you might see or hear onstage. It’s best to assume the material will be of an adult nature (somewhere between PG-13 and R). Also, we serve beer and wine in our lobby, and yes we ID. Every time.
As a student or potential student, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Magnet’s registration policies. If you have have a question that hasn’t been answered here, please contact Magnet School Director Amy Morrison at 212-244-2400 or SchoolDirector@MagnetTheater.com.
Students are required to be on time to class and stay for the entire class period. Please be courteous to your classmates. Disturbances, such as tardiness, cell phone use, inappropriate comments, and disrespectful behavior, will not be tolerated. Disruptive students may be asked to leave. If you require any special accommodations please speak to the instructor before class.
Students may miss no more than 2 classes. If a student misses more than 2 classes, the student may not be permitted to participate in the class show and must retake the class in order to move to the next level. A student may be held back and asked to repeat a class at the discretion of the instructor.
Students enter the program at Level 1 and must satisfactorily complete each level as a pre-requisite for the next level. Conservatory (our upper levels) students must be accepted through an application process. There is no pre-requisite for the Drop-In, the Free Intros, Any Level 1, Camp Magnet, or any elective unless specifically noted. Magnet reserves the right to accept or deny an individual’s registration for a class.
Repeating at Half-Price:
To encourage student development and mastery of skills, students may repeat any core curriculum class for half the regular price.
Completion of the core curriculum and conservatory programs does not guarantee placement on a house team or guarantee any other performance opportunities at Magnet.
All Sales Final:
Class payments are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. All sales are final.
Registration Complete Upon Payment:
Registration is not complete and you are not placed in the class until payment is received in full.
If a Class is Re-scheduled or Cancelled:
It’s rare, but in the event that Magnet must cancel or reschedule a class, enrolled students will be notified of any rescheduling by either email or phone, or both. In the event of a cancelled class, a full refund will be given.
Want to know about our Conservatory Classes? Click here to view a post all about them!
It’s been over a month here at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam!
I am proud to say I am neither a skeleton nor a terrible blubbering mess. My inherent neuroses have slowly acclimated to the beautiful weather, brutally practical Dutch people, and performing sketch and shortform 5 nights a week.
Occasionally the audience has drunken screaming British bachelor parties that only yell “dildo” as suggestions!
This week on the podcast we welcome prolific performer, writer, and director Laura Grey to talk with us about comedy and living a life surrounded by it. With credits at theaters such as Magnet, UCB, and Second City, Laura has come a long way since her time as a creative writing and poetry major at Northwestern University. Host Louis Kornfeld talks to Laura about the early days of Comedy Central, getting her start in Chicago, and of course, Game of Thrones. They discuss the dynamics of performers in Chicago and New York and how they connect to the audiences differently. Plus, Laura provides advices on creating characters and tells us what she thinks of her comedic voice. There’s a lot of other great stuff in this episode that will no doubt make you a better person, so we suggest you give it a listen!
Or simply enjoy Episode #43 below via SoundCloud.
The new Magnet Training Center at 22 W. 32nd Street marks a huge development in the history of the Magnet and the New York comedy community. For the first time since most anyone at Magnet can remember, we’ve got all of our classes running under the same roof, bringing our community of students, teachers, and performers together on a nightly basis. It also means that more classes are being offered in improv, musical improv, sketch comedy, and storytelling than ever before and that’s great news for all of New York, whether you’re a comedian, actor, singer, storyteller, or audience member.
Our new home has 10 classrooms, a studio theater, two dedicated writers’ rooms and two multi-stall bathrooms (so luxurious!). There are vending machines, a water fountain, and places to hang out before and after class. 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. Plus, it’s got a view of the Empire State Building. Pretty swanky, right?
And did we mention that our new training center is right in the heart of New York City’s Korea Town? We are now smack in the middle of a block packed full of great restaurants, cool cafes, and killer karaoke bars. Whether it’s a team dinner before The Circuit, or a night of singing after your musical improv class, K-Town has you covered.
This is a new, exciting chapter for us and it wouldn’t be possible without the enthusiasm, hard work, and continued brilliance of our students and staff.
Thanks for being the best community around. If you haven’t seen the new digs yet, please stop by when you can, or sign up for a class! For a sneak peak, check out the fun infomercial below.
Magnet Training Center
Hours: 11am to 11pm
22 West 32nd St, 10th Floor