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

Posts Tagged ‘the best’

Friday December 6, 2013, 12:38pm - by Amanda Ariel Peggy Xeller

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The Magnet Theater not only boasts its current roster of powerful improvisers and performers, but also celebrates those who have taken on new adventures in their lives and with their comedy.

George Basil (The Pete Holmes Show, College Humor), a Magnet performer known for his epic improv with 4Track, is now out in L.A.  You probably have seen him in a Vonage commercial or maybe even a bunch of CollegeHumor Originals. We wanted to catch up with George and shine the Magnet Theater Blog spotlight on him and his work. We conducted an email interview with George Basil. Below are his responses:

What is your improv and comedy history? What got you interested and when were you first exposed to improv?

GB: I didn’t learn about improv in high school or college. The first time I’d ever seen improv was on “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” Watching those performers fly around looked so fun. Then I researched it a little and came across something called the “Big Stinking Comedy Festival” in Austin, TX. It boasted amazing improv groups, and it got me hard, so I went down. Eventually I took a class at the Hideout Theater and from then on I was totally hooked. I’ve always kind of known that my only redeeming quality is finding the keys to a person’s laughter lock, it was just hard to find the confidence to pursue it. When I got to NY I took classes all over and then found a home at the Magnet.

 

 

What initially attracted you to the Magnet?

GB: All the misfits. There were no preconceived notions about the comedy we wanted to explore. We were all making mistakes and figuring it out and loving the process of learning about people through improv.

 

What teams, shows, and projects were you a part of while at the Magnet?

GB: A ton of different teams and shows. The first I think was “Munchaüsan” then “El Partido”? I was at the Magnet every night until their doors were locked. I was also in 4-Track which was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Really proud of all the teams I was on and every performer I got to play with.

 

What were some of your favourite shows and performers while here?

GB: I loved watching “Pax Romana” a lot. They always had so much fun, it was contagious. I can’t name just a few performers I liked to watch. It was literally every last one. Aside from being my friends, they were all so fucking funny.

 

Who were or are your favourite improv instructors? Who do you attribute to your growth as an improviser and comedian? Who influences/had influenced you as an improviser?

GB: Obviously Armando had a lot to do with how I approached comedy and improv. His patience and insight into the reality of character was huge. He’s been my biggest influence to date, for sure.

I got to work with Mark Sutton in Vancouver once, he was awesome. Mick Napier was great too.

Dan Bakkedahl is still the improviser that knocks me out anytime he’s on stage. I love that dude’s work, always have.

 

What did you learn at the Magnet that helps you now?

GB: Patience. Laying in the cut. Screaming doesn’t get you food. Cool doesn’t mean shit. Any and all confidence I have as a performer I attribute to the Magnet. I feel like I grew up on that stage, having never done any other theater training.

 

Why did you leave NYC?

GB: I had some work in LA and everyone encouraged me to make the move for professional reasons. And I owed the Italians money.

 

Are you still improvising?

GB: I am but not as much as I’d like to.

 

What projects have you taken on since your departure from the Magnet?

GB: A lot of web shorts and indie films. Anything and everything. Always saying yes.

 

What are you currently involved in?

GB: I’m co-writing a web series that’s loosely based on my life as a weird stonerish dad. It’ll hopefully show the ups and downs of alternative style parenting.

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What excites you and inspires you?

GB: Watching youngins do improv. This art form is still in its infancy. 4-track toured Canada a bunch and watching kids that have been doing improv since high school and in some cases even earlier was fucking rad. Game didn’t matter, character didn’t matter, they just knew. They were so good at emoting and everything

 

What are the differences between the New York scene and the scene of Los Angeles?

GB: The biggest difference for me is that in LA you can’t walk from one theater to another the way you can in NY. Aside from that, great stuff is happening in both cities. The weirdest thing about LA is that instead of rehearsing in a studio, you go to someone’s house.

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What shows and performers should us New Yorkers totally take note of in case we take a trip out West?

GB: The main thing I would suggest is to check out every venue- there’s good shows and performers scattered across LA. The Clubhouse, Second City, UCB, I.O.West- try not to limit your perspective on style, go tons of places, and don’t be too stuck up to laugh.
 

Thanks George! When in New York, George has been known to drop by Magnet for shows. Keep an eye out for more of George’s work.

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!

Sunday September 29, 2013, 10:01pm - by WillyAppelman

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The Magnet is thrilled to announce our new Musical Megawatt lineup! Come by this Tuesday when all six teams will perform to kick off the new season!

New Team Chunky
Jen Connor
Stephanie Griffith
Kathleen Armenti
Nikita Burdein
Alex Tracy
Tom Dunlap
Ben Furnas

New Team Smooth
Gretchen Poole
Ariana Murphy
Maggie Morris
Justin Torres
Brad Benson
Andrew Cornelius
Steve Whyte

The Jezebelles
Annie Moor
Kiki Mikkelson
Lauren Friedman
Ali Reed
Mallory Schlossberg
Rachel Norman
Liz Lasky

Legend
Roman Pietrs
Lorraine Cink
Leslie Collins
Jordan Hirsch
Olivia Petzy
Jason Scott Quinn
Ren McDermott

Mint Condition
Woody Fu
Sarah Puls
Melissa Gordon
Angela Demanti
Ryan Dunkin
Doug Widick
Chris Simpson

Aquarius
Ross Taylor
Joe Hendel
Michael Murnane
Laura Dlug
Jon Bander
Oscar Montoya
Abby Holland
Mike Kuplic

Wednesday September 18, 2013, 2:43pm - by WillyAppelman

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The Magnet Theater Touring Company is about to be put to the test. In the next few weeks NBC will be running Live Improvised Lexus commercials. According to Splitsider, “In the final commercial break of the show, they will perform an improvised commercial based on the suggestions from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.” Keep your eyes out for these commercials, they’re live and totally improvised. Well done NBC!

Variety

Splitsider

Friday September 6, 2013, 11:39am - by WillyAppelman

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Auditions for Musical Megawatt teams will be held Saturday, September 28th, with callbacks on Sunday, September 29th. Musical Megawatt Teams are Magnet Theater’s House Musical Improv Teams. To be eligible, students need to have completed up to Musical Improv Level 3. To apply, please follow THIS LINK and fill out the form by September 16th. Confirmations will be sent out on September 17th. Break legs, everyone!

Thursday August 15, 2013, 6:34pm - by WillyAppelman

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We’re very excited to announce the next round of The Circuit, which will begin Friday, October 4th, 2013!

Applications for Circuit teams will open the first week of September and applicants will be chosen by lottery. If chosen, you will be placed on a team of 8 improvisers and assigned a coach. You will rehearse with your coach and team once a week, with rotating performances on Friday nights at 10PM at the Magnet Studio Theater.

If you have completed Level 3 of Magnet’s Training Program and are not part of a Magnet house improv team, you are eligible to apply.

The Circuit is a great way to gain experience in being in an improv ensemble. We highly encourage you to apply.

Stay tuned for more information and announcements regarding applications in the next few weeks. Thank you and we are looking forward to an exciting new season of The Circuit!

If you have any questions, please email us at circuit [at] magnettheater [dot] com.

Thursday August 8, 2013, 11:00am - by Charlie Whitcroft

The Blackout

“The Blackout” is the newest installment of The Director Series, a 5-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form. This month Louis Kornfeld is directing The Blackout, featuring Phoebe Tyers, Alexis Lambright, Ely Aina Rapoza, Rebecca Robles, Charlie Whitcroft, Rob Penty, Eli Itzkowitz, and Desiree Nash.

Blackout Cast

Photo by Woody Fu

This past Thursday saw the premier of “The Blackout”, a unique and refreshing improv show relying solely on scenework. The cast, proficient in subtlety and poise, performed the series of scenes in two and three person combinations that came together naturally and comfortably to fill the hour with standalone vignettes and thematic revisitations under the direction and technical expertise of Director Louis Kornfeld.

Photo by Woody Fu

Photo by Woody Fu

Photo by Woody Fu

The audience watched childhood friends discussing the ups and downs of having two mothers, a needy secretary fail to grasp the humor of a screen-saver, a married couple deal with three years of built up frustration and resentment, teens peeping on their “girlfriend” undressing in her bedroom, and a man out himself to passengers on his plane during a recreational flight, among many other episodes. Never a dull moment, while all of the energy of this show flowed steadily and with intention.

There are four more opportunities to catch “The Blackout” – August 8th, 15, 22 and 29th at 9:00pm at The Magnet Theater!

This was a re-blogged review from Charlie Whitcroft.

Thursday June 6, 2013, 12:41pm - by WillyAppelman

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Every Thursday in June, we’ve got a brand new Magnet Video! These are videos shot from live shows at The Magnet Theater. Enjoy this weeks scene from Chet Siegel(The Boss) and Megan Gray(Junior Varsity), about siblings having a fight over “magazines”. Watch The Video HERE! Stay Tuned for more!

Friday May 17, 2013, 2:27pm - by WillyAppelman

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Jaime Hazan has been performing at The Magnet Theater for over 4 years. He works with Frank Spitznagel (Frankie Keys) and accompanies most of the Musical Mixers you attend. Jaime performs weekly at The Musical Mixer and Musical Megawatt. Jaime recently wrote a song for the victims of The Boston Marathon Bombings that can he downloaded here, BOSTON STRONG. We talked with Jaime about his music, The Magnet and what his number one wish is.

Question: How did you get started as a musician?

I started playing the piano between 4 and 5 years old. I had always
played by ear and was able to improvise just about any song I heard.
Someone would play a song on a vinyl record, and I’d be able to play
it back. I still don’t really understand how that works!

Question: When did you start accompanying musical improv?

I hate the word “Accompanist” when it comes to musical improv, since
it implies a lateral involvement to the on-stage actors. I prefer to
use the word collaborator since musicians and actors must work in
concert to find their grail and perform excellent improv.

I started studying musical improv Jan 2009 and accompanying later that
year after recognizing that my place was behind the keys. Traditional
musicians who take the time to study many years of theory, harmony and
the so-called “proper methods” of learning don’t typically have the
grasp of “making it up on-the-spot”. Those that do are simply amazing
humans (Frankie Keys). However making up songs was the one thing I
was best at – so I consider myself lucky to have found a theatrical
environment that rewards individuality and the ability to improvise
songs. A traditional theater would not take to this style kindly!

In particular, I enjoy teaching and rehearsing song structure to
performers since it is this type of songwriting that in my opinion
makes musical improv so fantastic. There is no bigger thrill than
nailing both a scene and structure combined – it makes for amazing
entertainment and tons of fun. Especially fun, watching students go
through the process of learning, say a tag-line song and finally
feeling comfortable performing within that structure – not to exclude
the many other structures – they all have their place in the game.

Questions: Can you talk about your song Boston Strong?

I am very proud of Boston Strong and feel somewhat badly about a
terrorist attack being the impetus of a song. My co-writer David
Fagin approached me about writing a song about the attacks, and
being a former 9-11 first responder, I fully understand what it’s like
to experience this frightening environment and was thrilled to
collaborate. So going into the studio and laying down the tracks and
finding the right combination of music to fit words was a cathartic
experience since the emotions surrounding 9-11 surface just about any
time there is terrorist activity. When we heard from police officers
from Watertown and Governor Patrick Duval, we knew many of the victims
were moved by the music – and that was simply our goal. But we soon
realized that selling downloads could raise significant money, so a
deal was set-up for distribution by Ingrooves/Fontana and can be heard
in Nordstroms as well as over 6000 Starbucks in the USA and Canada as
well as downloaded as a single on itunes, spotify, or your favorite
digital music aggregator. The song has gotten lots’ of press and was
featured at a NY Mets game – which was very exciting. All of the
digital downloads go to the onefundboston.org. Here’s the itunes link
to check out: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/boston-strong-single/id642637688

As you will be able to see, it has gained acclaim on itunes. It is
expected to be played at the LiveNation.com benefit concert on May 30
over the system – a concert that will be featuring some of America’s
most successful musicians including Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffet, Carole
King & New Kids on the Block. It would be a thrill if we were invited
to perform live, but that is still to be determined.

Question: If you had one wish Jaime, what would it be?

The other night, I was listening to a lecture about happiness. What
makes someone happy? And the lecturer explained how it is not money -
two people can be going to work, one taking a bus to serve at a blue
collar job, and another in a limo, as a CEO. The key to happiness is
living and playing a role within a close knit community. This,
describes Magnet Theater – an organization I’m very proud to serve.
Despite extreme poverty sucking, I wish for a lifetime of health and
happiness.

Jaime Hazan can be seen performing weekly at The Musical Mixer and Musical Megawatt. If you could find it in your heart to spare $1.29, you’ll be helping people who are in serious need. Download BOSTON STRONG!

Friday May 3, 2013, 9:41am - by WillyAppelman

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The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the next round of MAGNET SKETCH TEAMS.

Each sketch team will write and perform a show approximately every 3 weeks. This run of shows begins in June and ends in September. Shows will take place Sunday nights at 9pm. Completion of Sketch Writing Level 2 is required to apply.

HOW TO APPLY TO BE ON A MAGNET SKETCH TEAM:

Send an email with the subject line, “MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION” and your name to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com. Include your improv/sketch experience and at least 2 writing samples as attachments (please limit total to 10 – 12 pages).

The deadline for submissions is FRIDAY, MAY 17th.

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