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

Posts Tagged ‘stand-up’

Wednesday May 31, 2017, 12:43pm - by Magnet Theater

 

Hot 97 DJ turned improviser, CIPHA SOUNDS, sits down with our host Louis Kornfeld to tackle a variety of subjects in the improv world including diversity in improv, trying out for Harold teams, and how their improvising skills translate to daily life. Cipha gives a lesson on what white people love and tells Louis how he has used these secrets to perfect the ideal improv show. Cipha also plugs his two new shows coming out and explains how they will aid him in his mission: spreading the word about improv comedy.

We begin our episode with Louis asking Cipha about a rumor he’d heard: Did Cipha once skip a DJing gig while on tour with Jay-Z and Beyonce to do an improv show? It turns out that the rumors are true and Cipha admits that when Christina Gausas asked him to sit in on a “Maravilla” show, he just couldn’t say no! Cipha talks about being the host of the Hot 97 morning show for years – the most popular time slot – and how that job gave him a lot of responsibility. That responsibility added stress and finally, an associate at Hot 97 told him to get check out improv as it might help to loosen him up and relax. He went to see Harold night at UCB, signed up for a class soon after, and continued watching shows constantly. Though Cipha felt out of place at first and simply marveled in the initial magic of watching improv, he soon started to figure out strategies to conquer it. After seeing Connor Ratliff kick someone’s head off of a roof he decided, “Okay. This is what I do now”.

Unfortunately, in his 101 class, Cipha did not feel like he was as involved as he could be. One person that helped him get his footing was UCB veteran Chris Gethard, who saw Cipha tweet that he was taking classes and has since offered him advice many times over. He even let Cipha sit in on a practice session with a team he was coaching, something Cipha describes as “getting a free show but with notes.” Tracking his development at UCB up until the present, Louis asks Cipha about his UCB East improv show “Take It Personal,” which he briefly describes as, “ASSSSCAT for hip-hop.” The show involves Cipha bringing on guests from the hip-hop world to tell stories that serve as inspiration for the show’s improv.

How did “Take It Personal” come to be? Cipha went from failing to make a Harold team to running a Friday night show that’s lasted four years now. Cipha tells Louis about his first time not getting onto a Harold team, talking about how he cried in a restaurant when he read the names of the people who got on, his name absent from the list. Since then, he’s built a show that combines his two loves – hip-hop and improv – and he’s done it by appealing to the traditional audiences of both arts. How? One secret that Cipha lets us in on: he knows what white people love. You’ll have to listen for Cipha’s complete list, but he knew that for his first “Take It Personal,” he wanted to jam-pack the show and its promotions with as many things as he could: a martial artist, someone reading RZA lyrics, the actor who played Marlo on The Wire, and of course his guest, N.O.R.E.

This attempt at bringing together hip-hop and improv audiences leads Louis to ask Cipha about diversity in the improv world. They discuss how people from different backgrounds may understand certain references and how to bridge the gaps between improvisers’ backgrounds. Cipha talks about how he got his comedy start doing stand up in the “urban scene” and how he’s always hated how people try to split it down the middle – “urban” shows vs “regular” shows. Cipha also explains why it’s so important to spread the word about improv to a variety of people just so they come see it with their own eyes. It’s harder to get people to try it for themselves without them knowing what it is.

Talking more about improv technique and theory, Louis explains getting advice from Armando Diaz about playing “game” and both Louis and Cipha discuss their styles and strategies in improv. Louis shares about how he will most often go for the emotional part of a scene and Cipha responds by explaining why he likes to play support characters. They also talk about being a good listener, “half-ideas,” and using physicality to get into character. Louis recollects some wise words of advice on character and notes that you don’t want to play so close to yourself that you’re unable to see what is funny.

Cipha admits that improv has helped him battle a lifelong proclivity towards shyness and says that thanks to improv, he is not afraid to go anywhere now or talk to anyone. This revelation surprises Louis, who would think that as a radio DJ, Cipha wouldn’t have issues with shyness, but Cipha describes how being a DJ or even a stand up can be incredibly isolating and doesn’t necessarily help get you out of your shell the way working on a team does.

Louis and Cipha delve into the world of stand up and how the crowd differs from improv audiences. They talk about how it’s easier to notice that one person in the crowd who’s not enjoying the show and Louis brings up a certain improv show he did where a Russian couple was breaking up in the front row during throughout his set. He had no idea until after!

To cap things off, Cipha plugs his two shows coming out: “Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks” – a stand up comedy-based show for Tru – TV and “Hip-Hop Improv with Cipha Sounds” an improv show that will be released through Tidal. He hypes both by adding that his end goal is to spread the word about improv to the entire world.

Wednesday May 25, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Rob Penty Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Improviser and storyteller extraordinaire, ROB PENTY, talks about why he hates Stella, how humor can help us deal with life, and the arc of his comedy career. He and host Louis Kornfeld also discuss their complex feelings on absurd humor, what Rob loves in comedy, and of course, The Wrath – Rob’s long-running Magnet house team. There’s a
cool karate belt analogy and plenty of Penty to warm your heart. Check it out!

Louis DIVES right into a hot, controversial topic: Rob’s undying hatred of the sketch group Stella. Louis attempts to defend the trio but the best he can muster is Rob’s acknowledgement that maybe the TV show was okay. Rob challenges the notion of, “If it makes you and your friends laugh, it can make an audience laugh,” and they both offer examples of random sketches they love and/or hate. Why do people like truly absurd humor? For fans of obscure sketch shows, they recall some of The Dana Carvey Show’s best pieces.

With so much criticism of comedy up to this point in the episode, Louis switches gears to ask what Rob DOES like about comedy. They talk about bravery in comedy and how it can work for us within the greater context of our lives. One benefit they explore is the ability to laugh at something uncomfortable and how helpful that can be. Rob provides us with some background on his comedy career, starting with standup, and the arc it has taken over the years. Plus – Find out what’s been jazzing Louis about improv lately!

To bring it all home, Rob makes a cool karate belt analogy and Louis asks about his time spent with The Wrath. Give this one a listen and check out Rob’s website, Actually, It’s Rob Penty Dot Org.com

Wednesday May 27, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Jo Firestone Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

A purveyor of weird in an increasingly codified comedy landscape, Jo Firestone sits down with us to talk about her numerous shows, how she approaches her art, and of course, City Museum in St. Louis. Host Louis Kornfeld kicks off this episode asking Jo whether she creates shows for her resume or because they interest her. As a prolific producer — she hosts Dr. Gameshow on WFMU, Punderdome 3000, Friends of Single People, and Firestone Success Academy (among many others) — Jo says you have to do it for yourself. She and Louis discuss how it feels weird to listen to and celebrate your own shows and Louis challenges Jo to create a new show with the suggestion of “farm.” Hear about Jo’s recent ventures to see art rather than comedy and how seeing bad art encourages you to take risks. Jo pontificates on the question of quantity versus quality and how she considers the audience when creating shows. Plus! Jo tells us the stupidest ideas she has ever gone through with and one of the very best moments from her many shows. Catch her now because she’s about to go on tour with a rock band and before you know it, she’ll be bigger than hip hop.

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.

Or simply enjoy Episode #46 below via SoundCloud.

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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 December 10, 2014, 6:00am - by Magnet Theater

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Host Alex Marino sits down with stand-up, improviser, writer, and podcaster Brian Frange to talk about all things comedy. Brian brags about being the best actor in his high school but admits that becoming a stand-up ruined his chops. He discusses his feat of doing 70 open mics in 30 days and his appearance at this year’s Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival. Plus, Brian talks about founding Awkward Silence Comedy at Indiana University, how to find your comedic voice, getting started in stand-up and The Unbelievable Podcast, which he hosts. Frazzled Frange might even make an appearance!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #24 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.

Thursday September 4, 2014, 9:22am - by Amanda Ariel Peggy Xeller

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Ever thought about taking the show on the road? So have these guys! Monday, September 8th at 8:30pm, three Toronto performers, James Hartnett, Tim Gilbert, and Marty Topps, are taking the Magnet stage to bring you their best work as a part of their New York and Philadelphia tour. I (Amanda Ariel Peggy Xeller!) got the awesome opportunity to not only see Marty Topps (Isaac Winter!) perform in Montreal, but got to conduct an e-mail interview with him for the Magnet’s blog.

Marty Topps is an award winning musical comedian from Toronto who burst onto the scene with his debut album, “A Loving Tribute to TapouT.” The album was ranked the #2 Comedy Music album of 2013 by BiteTV. Marty followed this up with a musical short film, “Beep Beep” which won First Place in the Laugh Sabbath Film Fest at NXNE 2014. Marty’s live performances have led to accolades like Best Newcomer at the 2014 Montreal Sketchfest and Audience Award (Best Musical Sketch) at the 2013 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival.

 

Where are you from originally?…and what’s that place like?!

I’m originally from Stratford, Ontario. Stratford is a nice town. It was pretty wild growing up in the shadow of the undisputed King of Pop, Justin Beaver but I also found it really inspiring because it made me #believe I could grow up to be a song-and-dance-man just like him.

What’s your training background?

I have no formal training. I went to University for Film but I dropped out cuz that was the cool thing to do at the time. And then I taught myself to play keytar cuz that was also the cool thing to do at the time… And it still is, right? Right?!

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Tuesday November 12, 2013, 1:39pm - by WillyAppelman

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Time Out NY chatted with Magnet Theater’s Trike (Peter McNerney & Nick Kanellis) for their 2013 Comedy Glossary. The list includes stand-up and improv words you probably didn’t know existed. Trike described the ins and outs of improv and explained some of the forms most confusing terms. Check the Article out HERE!

If you’re interested in catching Trike at Magnet, catch them every Saturday at 10:30pm. Reserve Tickets HERE!

Wednesday April 17, 2013, 9:14am - by WillyAppelman

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Thanks so much to NYC Tourist for this wonderful review of The Magnet Theater and of Trike featuring Ed Herbstman. If you’re interested in taking a Free Magnet Class or seeing an affordable show, check out our website! NYCTourist.com is a travel site dedicated to all the best things to do and places to stay in New York City, check them out!

Wednesday August 24, 2011, 5:55pm - by admin

Willy Appelman, Thin Skin Johnny and The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac after this month’s Deep Traffic show.