Archive for the ‘All About’ Category
At our recent Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Panel last month, we reaffirmed our commitment to keeping Magnet a safe space for all members of our community. We want to make sure that our reporting process for complaints of harassment or misconduct are available to all students, performers, staff, and other members of the Magnet family.
To report misconduct or harassment, you are invited to contact the School Director in the manner of your choosing, either via phone, email, or call the Training Center office at 212-244-2400.
Additionally there are other reporting options you may select based on your preference. You may speak with or email any Instructor, House Manager, Training Center Staff, Artistic Staff, or Sketch Director. All Magnet employees are trained to receive your report, and can explain the next steps and what to expect in terms of follow up. Magnet also maintains a growing list of resources and outside organizations to assist our community.
The following organizations do valuable work to support victims of harassment and misconduct:
• NYC Anti-Violence Project (212) 714-1141
– Serves LGBTQ+ and HIV-Affected Communities
– TTY: (212) 714-1134
• Safe Horizon (212) 227-3000
– Serves victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, and other crimes
– Can help with placement in domestic violence shelter
– TDD: (866) 604-5350
• NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault (212) 514-7233 (Only M-F, 9am-5pm)
– Can offer short-term counseling
– Can offer accompaniment to police, hospitals, etc.
• Day One (800) 214-4150
– Serves victims of youth dating abuse and domestic sex trafficking
– Text Line: (646) 535-3291
• Womankind (800) 656-4673
– Serves immigrant survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence, and trafficking
– Services available in over 18 languages
• 1 in 6
– Serves male survivors of child sexual abuse
• RAINN (800) 656-4673
– Online 24/7 hotline (chat-based hotline, does not collect IP Addresses)
• SAKHI for South Asian Women (212) 868-6741
• Korean American Family Service Center: (718) 460-3800
• Sauti Yetu Center for African Women
– French-speaking advocates available
• Voces Latinas: (718) 593-4528 (not a hotline)
• VIP—Violence Intervention Program Mujeres (800) 664-5880
• Arab American Association of NY (718) 745-3523 (not a hotline)
• National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-8255
• Know Your IX Toolkit (informing students of their Title IX Rights)
• NYPD Special Victims Division (646) 610-7272
(For cases of sexual assault and harassment, you will always be better served contacting the police in this manner over calling 911. Of course, please call 911 in the event of an emergency.)
- 1 in 6
- Arab American Association of NY
- Day One
- Know Your IX
- Korean American Family Service Center
- magnet theater training center
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline
- NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault
- NYC Anti-Violence Project
- Safe Horizon
- Sauti Yetu Center
- school director
- training center
- Voces Latinas
Registration for Camp Magnet opens 2/6 — get all the info here!
What is Camp Magnet?
Camp Magnet is a four-day, three-night improv retreat in The Catskills. In other words, it’s THE improv event of the year and one of the best experiences you’ll ever have. We’ve been running Camp Magnet since 2010 and it’s become an annual tradition that’s as integral to our community as is fun to attend! Great meals are taken care of, the cabins are cozy, and when it’s time to relax, it’s ‘lake time’ instead of Netflix (yes, there is cell service, but c’mon). By disconnecting from the city, we can re-connect with the craft, what draws us to it, what makes it rewarding, and what makes us better improvisers.
When is it?
This year (2018), camp is Thursday, May 31st through Sunday, June 3rd.
Where is it?
Camp Magnet takes place at Iroquois Springs, a fantastic overnight camp in Rock Hill, NY. It’s only about 90 miles from New York City, but it’s a world apart once you’re there. While Iroquois Springs operates as a sleep-away camp for kids most of the summer, they let Magnet take over for one weekend a year and we’re so happy that they do. Take a virtual tour of the campgrounds by clicking here.
What happens at Camp Magnet?
During the day, it’s all about diverse workshops focusing on all different aspects of creating great work together. At night, it’s improv jams, dance parties, s’mores by the fire, sing-alongs, and some legit friend-making. Imagine doing warm ups where it’s actually warm. Imagine doing breathing exercises where the air is provided by actual trees.
Who will be teaching?
Each year, our retreat boasts an incredible lineup of Magnet and guest instructors and while the full list for 2018 isn’t up just yet, the class registration page will have all the info as teachers confirm. As of this writing, we’ve got Armando Diaz, Megan Gray, Rick Andrews, and Louis Kornfeld. In past years, we’ve had Magnet instructors such as Ed Herbstman, Hannah Chase, Michael Lutton, Elana Fishbein, and more, PLUS visiting luminaries like Rachel Hamilton, David Razowsky, Jean Villepique, and Gary Rudoren. The instructors are always top notch and the workshops are a blast.
What is there to do besides improv?
The Iroquois Springs campgrounds have so much to do, it’ll make your head spin. Whether you want to swim or canoe on the lake, roast a marshmallow and share stories over the fire pit, or play some hoops on the basketball court, you’ve got a lot of options. If sing-alongs are your thing, campers usually bring guitars, ukeleles, saxophones, and whatever else they can play or strum. We’ve found that the most fun usually comes from sharing meals, staying up late, and getting to know new friends.
Who would enjoy Camp Magnet?
Camp Magnet is great for anyone who wants to deepen their connection with the Magnet community or meet some great folks before diving in. We know campers who started their Magnet journey at Camp and went on to be performers at the theater! We also know many campers who formed deep friendships and bonds with people at Camp who they’d otherwise only met in passing. Beyond the Magnet community, it’s also ideal for people from outside the NYC area as a place to come for one weekend and get some of the very best improv training in the world. Each year, we have a few campers from “not NYC” and they’re always a joy. Just another little thing that makes Camp so great.
What does it cost?
Camp is $569 this year. However, we’re having a **FLASH SALE** Tuesday, February 6th through Friday, February 9th, during which time, camp will only cost $499. This will be the absolute lowest price anyone will pay for camp this year, so you better jump on it while you can!! Bookmark the class registration page or send yourself the link as a reminder to register during this window!
How do we get there and back?
We have you covered. We typically charter a bus and all head up together. Yes, there is an additional fee to cover the cost of the bus – around $55. Once we engage the charter company, we will be contacting campers with a link to sign up.
By the way – there are other ways to get to camp if you choose. You can drive (carpooling happens every year, usually facilitated by a Camp Magnet Facebook group), or you can take a train. If that’s your preference, we’ll send you some details on that once you sign up, or feel free to call the Training Center and we’ll give you the info. Note, if you take the train, you’ll need to organize a ride from the train to the camp, and while cabs are available, they do cost money.
But that’s why we get the charter bus – makes getting there and back a super easy.
Some people have even biked to camp in previous years! (WOW.)
Want to know more?
Once you sign up, there will be a lot of communication from Magnet about what to bring, transportation, how we might meet any special accommodations you might have, and how to get a private cabin if you want (hint: limited availability, extra fee). For any questions, call 212-244-2400.
Photos courtesy of Aaron Zemach, Ryan Smith, and Melissa Ulloa.
Magnet Theater Community
New York, New York
Executive Order Issued By The Magnet Community
The Magnet community is here to make comedy, but there are also some things we take very seriously. When our core principles are under threat, we are required to speak up, remind each other why we are here, and make it clear what we stand for, and stand against.
There have always been forces in the world working to keep people apart. These will never fully go away, but in light of the recent actions by the President, it appears, right now, these forces are alarmingly strong.
We affirm that denigrating, diminishing, dismissing and excluding people based on race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion or country of origin is fundamentally in opposition to what makes our community strong.
Our diverse community is built upon something quite simple: listening to and supporting each other in order to create something we couldnt do alone. For a long time, we thought this was just for fun – but it turns out improvising is important. Because when we listen to each other, we ultimately discover the great value of each others unique gifts. And when we do, improvising, making comedy, and storytelling become powerful ways to combat the forces attempting to divide us.
This White House is trading on deeply harmful stereotypes in the name of enhancing our security. As New Yorkers, we find this both offensive and counter-productive. As improvisers and theater artists, we find it not funny.
As individuals in this community, we declare our commitment to each other during this disorienting time. When institutions seem fragile, we realize that our true strength lies in each other, our craft, and our fundamental desire to listen to each other for what connects us, not what divides us.
We choose “Yes, and,” not “No.” Though, man, during these troubling times we really want to say “Go Fuck Yourself.” Instead, we’ll just add that we believe in science.
The Magnet Theater Community
**(Want to sign the actual document? Stop by the Magnet Training Center’s lounge area and add your signature.)**
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 or Musical Megawatt. 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 dont 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 offer two improv mixers a week, one on Wednesday and one on Thursday, both at 6 pm. We also host a Musical Mixer every other Tuesday at 6 pm. 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 6 pm, 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 Teams 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!
The Improv Conservatory Program is Magnet’s advanced improv training ground.
The program is focused on building a systematic transition from highly-proficient student to successful performer. It’s also a training ground for veteran improvisers interested in fine-tuning their skills. To do this, the Conservatory Program offers students a variety of specific classes featuring a higher degree of individualized attention tailored to each students’ strengths and weaknesses.
Conservatory classes fall under following categories:
Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory
Team Performance Workshop
Do you need a cool rehearsal space for your team or practice group? One that’s reasonably priced, conveniently located, and complete with some pretty sweet vending machines? We have a big, awesome Training Center now! You can rent a room from us! We have 10 to choose from, all ranging from $15-$35. They’re pretty much perfect for improv rehearsals, writing groups, production meetings and the like. No terrifying lighting. No weird stains. Everyone wins.
Get more details: Magnet Training Center-Spaces Guide
Make it official: Book space up to two months in advance!
Have questions? Call the office at 212-244-2400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And feel free to spread the word to your friends and teammates’ referrals are welcomed and encouraged!
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, its 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 wouldnt 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
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 TOMORROW, Friday 4/10, but in the meantime we are releasing some interesting stories that didnt make the final cut.
Today, Magnet Theater co-founder Armando Diaz explains the origins of the long-running The Armando Diaz Experience. Tonight, ADX kicks off the Magnet 10th Anniversary celebrations with monologues by Ira Glass of This American Life. Advanced reservations are sold out, but a limited number of tickets will be released at the door.
The Armando Diaz Experience
(Diaz, then a 20-something film-school dropout, had been taking classes with Del Close and Charna Halpern at the iO, since its early back-of-the-bar days. Close eventually left Chicago to try his luck in L.A., and Diaz feeling at a low-point in his improv career, quits and goes back to film school.)
Armando Diaz (founder, co-owner, teacher): I graduated and I was just trying to find film work. Its not easy trying to find those jobs in Chicago. I was videotaping weddings, I was working at a dubbing house where they dub commercials and instructional videos and you had to watch the same thing over and over for 8 hours. I was really in hell.
Me and Kevin Dorff were living in an apartment together and I still had improv friends, so Id go to parties and shows and whatever, but I had given up. And people were like Oh there’s that guy who used to do improv, whatever.
I got burnt out. My life was a mess. I just was really kind of like, Eh, I don’t have a degree, Im not making any money. What future does any of this have?
Around that time Charna is opening her theater. She had gotten a theater on Clark Street and it was a big deal. She had taken the first risk of renting space, it was like a tiny 40-seat theater. And then that went pretty well so she decided to take the plunge and get a full theater, bar and all that kind of stuff. At that point a lot of people had been hired at Second City and were going on to become paid actors and stuff like that, so they were looking for shows to put into the space.
It was like, well shes gonna have two stages, and they wanted to have some alumni shows. So we were in Kevin and my apartment. It was late, we had closed out the bar, and we came back to the apartment to drink. It was Dave Koechner, Adam McKay, and Kevin and we were just sitting there. It was funny, they would bitch a lot about not getting to do improv, because they were doing Second City and its all written stuff. They do improv stuff but they didn’t get to do Harolds. They missed that.
So they started pitching this idea of an alumni show, and made a cast list of all the best people. They kept on saying, well its gotta be egoless work. Lets not let anybody do hacky stuff or have any kind of personalities. There were like 30 or 40 people on the list. The other thing was how are you gonna rotate people in. Adam had this strange idea of calling the show The Armando Diaz Experience and saying well you know anybody in the show has to serve Armando. Were going to create this ego, this figurehead.
I think it’s kind of like the founding of the United States. Where its kind of like, Well we don’t want a king we want a weak president. I think subconsciously that was part of it.
Me and Adam were friends and share a lot of comedic sensibilities. He enjoyed stuff I did. He always had a lot more confidence in me than I had in myself. A friend of ours had died, this guy Rick Roman, and a year earlier they had put together a memorial show and they were gonna give away a scholarship to go through the Second City Training Center.
It was a fundraiser, and Adam was like you gotta be in the show and it was like, What? Doing what? Im not in improv, I quit improv, Im back in school. Hes just like Im just putting you down to be in it. And so I kept saying, Adam, I don’t do stand-up. You know. But theres no getting out of the show so I was just like totally agonizing up until the day of the show and then suddenly the shows going on, and I see the order, and were coming up to my space.
I wrack my head for like something to do. I tried writing stuff and and it was all terrible. So finally I was backstage, Im about to go on, and the lights came up and I was still frozen backstage. And there was an empty stage and everyone’s like whats going on. So I just came out and I was like, Hi my names Armando Diaz. Im not going to lie to you, I didnt prepare anything for this show. I just really wanted to be in it. And everyone started laughing. And I was like, Uh, the thought occurred to me, like, Hey, got any questions about Rick? Rick was a friend of mine. Got any questions? The audience would ask me questions, and I would just tell stories. And I just kind of told a lot of stories about Rick. And for some reason it just went over really well. It was in that moment, that me improvising monologues sort of happened.
Jump forward a year, and the same situation. Im like Adam What is the Armando Diaz Experience? He was like, Its whatever, just do what you want. And they just worked on the rest.
Id get reports back from Charna, shes like, Were sold out for the first show! And I was like What? What? Dave Koechner got Del. He was like Dels gonna direct us. So I was even more scared. So I showed up to rehearsal and the only thing I could think of was to improvise monologues. So, I was like, well Ill just do that. You guys do the improv and Ill get out of your way. And so we tried it. And I was just nervous as hell.
I looked around the room. It was just everybody. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Matt Besser and Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts and Adam McKay and David Koechner and Kevin Dorff. Miriam Tolan. Neil Flynn. Jimmy Carrane. Leo Ford. Im missing a lot of people. It was just kind of a who’s who of the most amazing improvisers on earth, and then an idiot like me, fronting the show. Everyones waiting for me to do something that they could use. Rehearsal was terrible. It was just really rotten.
Unfortunately, they waited until last minute to book rehearsal. So this was two weeks before the show started. We did the first rehearsal on a Saturday and it was just a total disaster. And we had a preview show on Monday, and only two guys showed up to the show. Which was lucky. Two people in the audience. Two frat guys. And so we get up to do the show and my monologues suck and then halfway through the show it was like, Yeah, lets give up on this and we refunded the guys money. They were like This sucked.
I was just stuck. I couldnt talk. I felt like I became an idiot when it came time to tell a story. Nothing came to me. And it was like in a week were gonna open the show, theres gonna be press there, they’re gonna review it, theres a packed audience.
We had one more rehearsal the next Saturday before the show, and Del started the rehearsal like this, You know theres something in show business thats just a sucker punch. Something about conning people. Basically to the effect of, are we really gonna do this? Or do we have to find something Armando can do? And basically just in front of everybody let me know like you better get it right or well replace you or put you to the side or whatever. I was like holy shit.
Right before I was gonna do the first monologue, he said to me, Remember the old timey impersonators, you know, like when a comic that would do an impression of somebody. You know how they would turn their back and pretend to transform themselves into that character, do something with their hair, or collar or something like that. Hes like, after you get the suggestion, I want you to turn around and I want you to do that. And I was like, what, this is ridiculous. He already thinks Im an asshole. Everybody was just really on edge.
So we started, we get the first suggestion, I was like okay great, I turned around, pretended to like, you know, and then I turned back around to give a monologue. And it actually worked. It was like Holy shit that was actually a pretty funny story. And then they did some scenes. And it was time to do another monologue and I turned around, did the same thing, told a story, and then again another monologue. And then they did some scenes and Dels like, Alright, cool. Were done. And then he just left.
We spent like 20 minutes practicing, and then it was like, shit the shows on Monday. So, I felt a little bit better because it was like okay, this little device seems to work for me, I dont know why, some strange Del magic. But then, over the weekend, I lost my voice. I was so nervous like by Saturday night, I could not get words out. I had like laryngitis. I went to work on Monday, and again, I tried to spend the whole day not talking. And I went up to iO after work and slowly my voice started coming back. It kind of just came back just in time for the show.
We did the first show and I did all that stuff Del said, and it was just like…wow. It was a kick-ass show. I did work that was worthy of the cast. I didnt feel like I totally let them down and all that stuff. And then from then on it was just a hit show.
I did it for a few months, and then at a certain point I was like, I dont know. Im not gonna become an actor. Im kind of running out of stories. I dont feel good about repeating stories. And I was taking time off from work to actually do it. I couldn’t do that indefinitely.
So I said to Charna, Hey I gotta stop doing the monologues for the show. So why don’t we close the show and then just put up the same kind of show with a new name. Lets just take my name off it and make it a new show. And she was like, No, no well just get someone else to do the monologues. And I was like, Are you sure? You know you could change the name. But theyd put reviews out. It had been labeled. I could see her point. But I was like, Okay, all right, I could disappear and you guys can keep doing it. I did my best to fuck it up and not be in it and it was something that was bigger than me.
(As told to Sulaiman Beg and Kelly Donahue)
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 didnt 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.
DISCOVERING IMPROV – PART 2
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, Ive 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 didnt question it back then, it was just kind of like, of course, thats 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 Dels class and then you stayed in Dels 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 Dels 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? Im just a freshman and heres all these seniors.
Andrews: In high school, my friend and I were annoying in improv and a lot of people didnt 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 didnt 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 didnt 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 guys 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. Didnt 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.
- alex marino
- armando diaz
- ed herbstman
- io west
- Kelly Donahue
- kill your darlings
- Los Angeles
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- Magnet Theater Oral History
- Megan Gray
- new york
- new york city
- oral history
- peter mcnerney
- rick andrews
- Second City
- Sulaiman Beg
- The Meow Show