Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Friday April 13, 2018, 11:02am - by Promo Team

As we prepare for summer blockbuster season, The Multiplex returns to Magnet on Monday, April 16th, at 9:00 PM to bring you inside the world of film. We bring you inside the world of The Multiplex by sitting down with director Michael Stevens!

You’re a veteran of many Director Series shows (AIM Big, Moonlight, Hero, and others). How does it feel to take on the role of director?

It feels pretty great! The hard part is solidifying, articulating, and being confident with a vision. The easy part is working with other improvisors. When I’m not playing I can see more, and it makes it easier to play with the form and provide structural elements that play towards respective improvisors strengths.

Everything I need to know about directing improv I learned from Professor X. I think to be good at directing, you gotta love watching, and you gotta know how to encourage people with their own creative sensibilities to use their powers more. Its very much about trust and collaboration and compromise (to a point).

What inspired you to develop this show?

1. I famously hate the movie La La Land, and wanted to see why people let that shitburger into the world. Just kidding. It’s a cute film.

2. My brother had a team out in LIC (Priest and the Beekeeper) that used to use this form many moons ago. They retired it, and I basically asked him if I could use it and riff on it a bit. I’m a big movie guy, and I come from a movie family. It’s essentially my love language. If I had a dollar for every fake movie I talked into my Dad’s face, I could remake the whole Rocky series 4 times, and do a crossover where he fights The Predator.

What interests me about movies now is the culture that surrounds them. Before a movie is viewed, we’re talking about it being greenlit. We review films before they come out, before we see them. We continue to experience films long after we’ve seen them. Our conversations online and in the world affect how the next movies are being made… it’s a whole crazy cycle. I don’t know whether it’s something that should be celebrated or mourned.

As a person who has nothing to do with the professional film industry sometimes I feel like movies have a greater power to unite people and the brighter shared values of a culture. Other times I feel like films highlight our excess. As a film goer and I GUESS as an artist I waver between optimism and ABJECT HOPELESSNESS.

This form is kind of playing with all of that shit.

How does The Multiplex differ from the classic “movie” improv form?

The goal of a movie form is to use improv to show you a movie. The goal of The Multiplex is to show you the entire “culture and creative process of a film.” You see a bit of the movie, but you’re seeing production conversations, writer’s meetings, test screening feedback, reshoots, remakes, reboots, sequels, podcasts about the film, conversations in film classes about the made up film ten years into the future, Oscar wins, conversations where regular people quote the film…. It’s friggin’ nuts as a form honestly.

It’s got a nice mix of the fast and loose play with a bit of grounded scene work. None of it should work, but it does.

I think the thing that I love about it is that as a director, the form is continuing to expand into this kaleidoscopic mess that I have no control over. That’s why I love my cast.

At the end of the show we usually end with a grounded podcast about the film. It’s everyone as a version of themselves kind of just riffing like comics do… It’s tonally the most inappropriate way to end a whole show of crazytown, but I love the weird sense from the audience that they are in on the joke of this made up film… By the end of the show you should feel not only like you’ve seen the film, but also like you’ve fought with your aunt about it online.

What’s your favorite movie that takes place behind the scenes of a movie?

Hahaha. I honestly don’t know… I loved Birdman, because that was closer to Multiplex in terms of showing the “culture around a film”.

But that one was more about a play, so I will pick Maps to the Stars. I thought it was alright.


See all the stars on stage at Magnet, April 16th at 9:oo PM!

Friday April 6, 2018, 11:00am - by Promo Team

Magnet’s newest show, Will They Or Won’t They, takes the stage Monday April 9th at 9:00pm. We caught up with the show’s director Amanda Rothman (Megawatt’s Drama) for some hot gossip about the show!

What’s the format of Will They Or Won’t They?

An expansion! So we start with three source scenes up top, followed by second beats with at least one NEW character, followed by a free for all. The catch? Those first three scenes are all THREE PERSON SCENES. Why, you ask? The inspiration for this show came from the improv game, “Love/Hate Cafe”- a three person scenic game that has you loving one character and disliking the other. So we are starting with that in mind, and blowing it up from there!

How did you select the cast for this show?

I thought about who I wanted to watch fall in love. I thought about who I wanted to watch get rejected. And then I got to askin’!

What’s your favorite “will they or won’t they” couple from sitcoms or other media?

Easy. I like any couple that seems like they actually like each other. For the record, we aren’t going for the Rom-Com genre in our show. We about those relationships with strong emotional connections, be it positive or negative.

What’s your LEAST favorite “will they or won’t they” couple from sitcoms or other media?

Easy. I don’t like any couple that seems like they don’t actually like each other. But for the record, if something Rom-Comy were to happen, well that would be just delightful.

“Showmance” is another classic romance trope. Have you ever fallen for someone you performed with?

Is it impossible for me to NOT fall in love with people I’ve performed with??? That’s one of the best parts of improv- the intimacy of being funny together! I will now list my current comedy crushes in no particular order:
Kristina Grosspietch
Michael Blech
Alex Braslavsky
Fu Goto
Kaley McMahon
Parmita Samanta
Tom Sanchez
Michael Stevens
Paul Ton


See all these crush-able improvisers in action in Will They Or Won’t They at Magnet, April 9th at 9:oo pm

Tuesday April 3, 2018, 12:49pm - by Promo Team

Object Work returns to the Magnet stage as this month’s Director Series show, starting Thursday, April 5th at 10:15 pm. We spoke with director Charlie Nicholson about the power and meaning of object-based improv.

How did you come up with the idea for an object-driven show?

Object Work came together at a moment in my life when I wanted to see the world differently. I was sad and lonely, looking to reconnect with comedy and theater in a meaningful way. I gathered together nine of the most wonderful, inspired people I knew, improvisors who made me feel excited about the possibilities of life and performance and art. We experimented together, developing an approach to playing that honored the many facets of an inanimate object and allowed us to turn anything that was thrown at us into a toy.

Always on my mind were the “performance object” discoveries I made in college, in Paul O’Connor’s stage shop building props for my and others’ plays, and Gabrielle Cody’s classroom, where we once spent an afternoon identifying the formal qualities of a stage full of chairs. I thought of my puppeteer friends Joe and Kali Therrien who welcomed me into their creative world at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. They continue their work in the streets and public parks of New York. And I thought of my parents, all four of them, who each demonstrated the strength of holding contradictory perspectives. These people taught me about the power of choosing an approach to the world that is intentionally unusual, to find pride in difference, and to celebrate the coexistence of many possible meanings. I made my best effort to carry this philosophy with me into Object Work rehearsals. I wanted performers to follow their individual instincts, to externalize their thought processes, and contrast with each other in their collaborations on stage. We found it to be very effective to limit our focus to a single object, as the object grounded and centered the group, forcing the group to physically share with each other, even as performances expanded to bizarre, dramatic, and unexpected territory.

By directing this show, I wanted to change the way I saw the world. I wanted to wake myself up, to cultivate a space for magic, to bring my imagination to life, and believe in bigger ideas. I wanted to push forward toward what was possible despite a powerful inclination to reduce my expectations. That was three years ago. Now it is 2018, and the world feels even heavier and harder. I feel more pressure to submit and accept the limitations of a disappointing reality. But every time I rehearse or perform with Object Work, I rediscover an immense sense of potential hiding in plain sight within our unmoving and seemingly inanimate world.

Your show features improv based on an actual (non-pantomimed) object. What sort of objects have been featured in the past? What’s the boldest choice someone has made with an object in previous shows?

In recounting the objects that we have been used for previous Object Work shows, I will also share some of the layered meanings of each object, IE how the object transformed and what it meant to us in the moment. Over the course of a 45 minute show, each object is reinterpreted in multiple ways, sometimes as a character, sometimes as the object that it literally is, sometimes as the physical embodiment of an emotion or idea.

I remember the Christmas lights that became an airport landing strip and the model school bus that changed performers into giants. There was panic when a string of sliver streamers malfunctioned as curtains in a the car wash, a sunflower stalk knocked a grand-slam straight out of the ballpark, and a bride tossed a bouquet of real pizza over her shoulder and into the audience. An abandoned cardboard box became a lonely neighborhood kid’s new house, lipstick was marked on foreheads as repentance ash, and a rain poncho returned from the grave as a ghost. There was even a show in which the performers used my body as the object, lifting me up to the ceiling and at one point using my hands and feet as telephone receivers to call each other.

If you were going to a desert island and could only bring three items you actually own, what would they be and why?

I would bring my deck of Fountain tarot cards so I could tell stories about the future, my favorite pair of magenta spandex shorts, to keep myself grounded in my past ( I have many good memories wearing the shorts), and a coil of rope, because one can accomplish so much with just a little piece of rope, especially on the desert island where I now live. Send help! Or at the very least, check out Object Work this Thursday at 10:15pm at the Magnet Theater!


Catch Object Work at 10:15 every Thursday in April!

Saturday March 24, 2018, 9:00am - by Promo Team

Do you have your Passover plans locked down yet? Come spend the most miraculous Seder of your life with The Jewsical Seder with B’nai Magnet, Sunday March 25 at 6:15pm! We chatted with Russ Feder to get all the fun deets.

 

 Is there something special about the chosen people that make them excellent musical improvisers?

Jews sing all the time. Too much, in fact. It’s how we spent the time wandering the desert for forty years.

What should the goys know about this show? Is there any terminology they can brush up on?

The show should be pretty inclusive! That being said, if anyone hears a funny-sounding word they don’t understand, it probably means either “messy” or “confusing”.

Is Frank Spitznagel actually a rabbi?

While he’s not ordained, he’s genuinely worked with Itzhak Perlman, which is close enough for us.

Tell us about B’nai Magnet’s mission statement.

B’nai Magnet is a group of musical improvisors hoping to share and heighten the joy of the holiday season with the masses. If people convert to Judaism as a result of seeing their shows, too, it’s a nice bonus.

Would you advise the audience to eat kosher for 24 hours before attending?

Absolutely. Leave your leavened bread at the door, folks. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Kick off Passover the right way with The Jewsical Seder with B’nai Magnet, Sunday, March 25 at 6:15!

 

Tuesday March 20, 2018, 10:00am - by Promo Team

What’s the best kind of birthday party? Why, a comedy birthday party of course! Jarret Berenstein is back with another birthday-themed variety show, The Fine Thirty-Nine, on Sunday March 25 at 9pm. Will there be sketch? Yes ma’am. Will there be stand up? You betcha. Will there be a party? Most def! Jarret spills the birthday beans below.

 Tell us about your show!

The Fine Thirty Nine is a birthday comedy show! It’s a combination of standup, sketches, special guests, and a variety of weird surprises. Plus there’s free beer!

This is the follow-up to last year’s show, The Great Thirty-Eight. Is it all new stuff, or are you up to your same old tricks?

All new stuff! I borrow a little from the format of The Great Thirty-Eight, but all the material in this show will be brand new, plus there are two standups (Matt Koff and Selena Coppock) who weren’t at the show last year and who are both super dope.

Do you anticipate doing more of these birthday shows? What titles do you have lined up?

I’d love to keep the tradition going if I can. Maybe “Hey shorty, it’s Forty” and “The Fun Forty One”? I’ll need to run those through the committee though.

What are you most excited for the audience to see? 

I wrote a book last year called The Kellyanne Conway Technique and one of the reviews on Amazon was so insane that I wrote a whole thing about it. There’s also gonna be an interview with a special guest that I think people are gonna love.

According to the poster, your show is made up of sketch, stand up, and a party. What’s the best party you’ve ever been to?

One time I went to a bar with some friends and this random woman was giving everybody free food and booze and forcing people to dance and do little contests. Turns out the woman was the owner and the bar was closing for good so she was just giving everything away. It was a real blowout, strangers were dancing and eating together, tons of fun, and then the next day the place was completely gone. I asked some dude where the bar went, and he was like “What? That bar burned down twenty years ago!” (That last part was a joke, but everything else was true.) Hope to see you all at the show!

Watch Jarret party on at The Fine Thirty-Nine, Sunday March 25 at 9:00pm at Magnet!

Friday March 9, 2018, 2:47pm - by Promo Team

Did you catch (and love) Moonlight last month? Don’t be sad to see it go, because it’s not gone—it’s evolved into Gassed Up with Good At Sports and it’s on every Saturday at 10:30 pm! Moonlight director, John Ross, is here fill you in.

How has this group evolved since coming together for the Director Series show Moonlight?

Same group new night and time. The biggest change is now I get to play with the team!

What’s your favorite memory from Moonlight’s Director Series run?

Easily every time the audience and actors broke because the scripted line was a perfect response to the improvised line. The room practically explodes and it’s the best feeling for everyone.

Is it comforting to ditch the gravid water format? Or more challenging?

A little bit of both to be honest. We were just getting used to having to cold read scripts, so it’s a bit of an adjustment to go back to pure improv. That being said, we are having fun just playing with each other, and not having to worry about printing scripts each week, haha.

Tell us more about the improv form you’re performing. Why did you choose this form?

Right now we are rotating through some forms, monologue deconstruction, Spokane, and Montage. We like these 3 because they all give us a lot of freedom given that the team is so big (10 people total). We also want to showcase minority talent and play-styles that don’t often get a main stage opportunity. However, we do plan on doing at least 1 edition of Gassed up in the Moonlight form though.

Out of all of the members of Good at Sports, who’s the best at sports?

This is a very good question. We all are. We’re a group of olympians each specializing in a different event. Like a justice league of comedy and athleticism. We’ve got a breakdown and everything:
Saidah – Zatanna
Lanee’ – Wonder Woman
Essence – Green Lantern
Erica – The Flash (Wally West)
Alexis – Martian Manhunter
Dahlia – Dr. Fate
Nat – Atom
Michael – Green Arrow
John – Superman
Randy – Batman

Feed your car and feed your mind with Gassed Up with Good At Sports, every Saturday at 10:30!

Tuesday February 20, 2018, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Ever wanted to dip your toe into the world of Musical Improv? There’s no better place to start than The Magnet Musical Improv All-Stars Spectacular!, this Friday, Feb. 23 at 7! Creator and director Nikita Burdein illuminates the rollercoaster of fun (and music!) below.

 

The Magnet has a really amazing Musical Improv program, and it’s one you’re heavily involved in. Tell us a little about your experience with musical ‘prov at Magnet.

I first heard of and came to the Magnet Theater because of their Musical Improv Program. It was (and still is) the only theater that has one night a week dedicated exclusively to Musical Improv, complete with a full band, and I wanted to be a part of that. I got cast on Wonderland in 2013 and we are now the oldest Musical team at Magnet. Oh boy! I’ve also been lucky enough to do various other Musical Improv shows at the Magnet including The Made-Up Musical, and currently Premiere: The Improvised Musical on Fridays. I also teach Musical Improv Levels 1 and 2 at the Magnet! So I like it a lot.

I have met so many amazing people through the Magnet Musical Improv Program. They are so talented and have the best personalities and they all have Musical comedy in their heart and soul, so that’s a great creative energy to be around.

This is a variety show! What can we look forward to seeing?

Variety is right. Every show will be different but there’s a few staples to look for.

You’ll see a one night only mash-up cast perform a long-form fully improvised narrative musical. But before they do that, they will play short form games, perform musical sketches and characters, share videos they’ve made, and sing all sorts of types of songs, some improvised and some not. The cast is always changing and each new cast is encouraged to bring something they are excited about sharing with the world, whether its a video, sketch, song, or whatever else.

Can you share a highlight from the first show?

There were too many to name just one. I think seeing this nine people cast collaborate together as amazingly as they did for the first time ever on stage was a definite highlight. Balancing a nine person cast in a narrative is not easy (our Tuesday teams have a maximum of seven people), but they made it look effortless because they are all-stars.

What inspired you to create the Spectacular?

I was amazed by the amount of talent we had performing every Tuesday and wanted to showcase them, their musical improv skills, but also their other creative endeavors; Video Work, Original Songs, Characters. People were doing interesting things and I thought it’d be fun to put them all together.

Then I really enjoy those mashup improv shows that crop up every holiday season, where they put people from various teams onto one super-team, and said let’s do that too.

Then I wanted it to have a little more audience engagement so there’s a short form game in the show.

Then I put other things in the show that I love, like “Solo Spot Songs” and “having a host” and “an element of surprise for the cast.”

Finally, I wanted the audience to get to know the performers in a different way than a long-form piece alone allows. So that’s part of it too. The audience will get to know these players and then they’ll see them perform an amazing Musical Improv Long-form Narrative.

If you don’t know much about musical improv, can you still enjoy the show?

Yes. We will have a host who will introduce each act so no one will be lost. There’s singing and dancing. If you hate singing and dancing, there’s comedy. If you don’t like any of those three things, then it’s not for you.

We’ve heard a scandalous rumor that the name of show may be changing soon.

Yes. The Magnet Musical Improv All-Stars Spectacular is getting a new name. I think it will be revealed at our next show. Something a little peppier, although I do love how descriptive this first title was.

 


Be dazzled and/or bedazzled at The Magnet Musical Improv All-Stars Spectacular! on Friday, February 23 at 7:00 at Magnet!

Monday February 19, 2018, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Did you know they left the word “gullible” out of the dictionary? Okay, maybe that was a fib, but luckily we sat down with Louis Kornfeld to talk about his upcoming show Fact or Fiction, where performers work off true stories from their own lives. No fibs allowed! Reserve tickets for the show, Monday, February 26 at 9:00!

What’s special about improvising from true stories?

The audience gets to know the people who are creating the show they’re watching. I think it’s more intimate. There’s less pressure to create a perfect comedy product when you can step out of a scene at any given moment and talk directly to the audience to let them know what you think about what’s going on.

What’s the craziest story you’ve ever heard at this show, or in rehearsals for the show?

I remember two or three very moving stories, but I wouldn’t be comfortable repeating them out of context.

In the Armando Diaz Experience, a monologist shares a story and then improvisers perform based off that.  How is Fact or Fiction different?

In Fact or Fiction the storyteller becomes a character in the scene. So for example, someone might step out and tell a true story about the time they got an autograph from DeForest Kelley and while they’re talking another person might join them and play Gates McFadden sitting at a convention autograph table. So now that person is telling their true story about DeForest Kelley to Gates McFadden. Any Star Trek fans reading this don’t need me to tell them what a cool scenario that is.

Are there any pitfalls to avoid when performing scenes based on real life?

Not really, other than using taste and judgement. If someone is generous enough to tell us all about a very sad thing in their life then you should know not to come out and join them with your wacky ‘guy who talks out of his butt’ character. Be a human being relating to other human beings. Good advice for any improviser, I think.

If someone tells a story that is not true, are they excommunicated from the show for life?

No, that’s silly.

 


Search for the truth at Fact or Fiction on Monday, February 26 at 9:00 at Magnet!

Wednesday February 14, 2018, 8:00am - by Promo Team

What’s more fun than your average Character Bash? Why, the Character Bash: Duo Show, of course! Double the comedians, double the characters, double the fun! Elena Skopetos and Ari Miller talk shop with us below. Reserve tickets for the show, Friday, February 16 at 7:00!

What’s special about improvising from true stories?

The audience gets to know the people who are creating the show they’re watching. I think it’s more intimate. There’s less pressure to create a perfect comedy product when you can step out of a scene at any given moment and talk directly to the audience to let them know what you think about what’s going on.

What happens in Character Bash? Is the Duo Show any different?

Character Bash is a showcase of some of the best writers and performers in NYC doing solo character monologues for the first time FOR YOU! But backstage the magic really happens as the show starts and the cast gathers to compare crock pot recipes. MmmMMmm baby, daddy loves crock pot. Each month we have a theme and this month we’re doing something pretty special: we’re performing a DUO SHOW! We’ve asked some amazing comedians to ask ANOTHER amazing comedian to perform with them. Let’s do that math real quick: one cast of amazing comedians + the cast of amazing comedians they’ve asked to join = DOUBLE the crock pot recipes! HELL YEAH!

What does performing as a character duo allow you to do that performing alone doesn’t?

Duos can be a lot of fun! Mostly because while we’re all lone wolf comedians, sometimes we like to pretend to be big happy dogs and big happy dogs like performing with friends! But big happy dogs also do not have the patience of lone hunter wolves and obviously we’re very patient vis a vis our interest crock pots, so at the end of the day, wolves we be! It’s also nice to have someone to play off of on stage and brainstorm with in the writers room. My writers room smells like a nice spicy curry.

How do you go about creating a character that is unique and memorable?

Creating a memorable character is legitimately hard, unlike the ease and simplicity of slow cookers. I tend to think you don’t aim to create a memorable character, you aim to have a fun bit. If the bit is fun enough than people will remember and if not, who cares? Either way Daddy’s getting some sweet, slow stewed beets and potatoes after his monologue. Ding dong! Who’s at the door? Why it’s a hot bowl of crock, my dear brother!

If you could form a duo with any comedian/character out there, who would it be?

If we could form a duo with any comedian it would imply that both Elena and Ari Have fused into a single entity. A super comedian. And while our power is to be sooooo funny, our weakness is our grotesque, hideous and mangled physique. So A) we’d have to do a lot of voice over. And B) I don’t know, Catdog? The point is we love characsgstetrtre bshhh. Sorry that sounded weird. My mouth was full of SOME HOT HOT CROCK POT BABYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Elena – What’s the stupidest thing about Ari?

The stupidest thing Ari Ever did was that one time he dropped out of Harvard to buy a bird.

Team up with Character Bash Duo Show on Friday, February 16 at 7:00 at Magnet!

Tuesday February 13, 2018, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Has your life been noticeably un-legendary lately? Are you craving an adventure beyond your wildest dreams? Then The Saga is the show for you–and we chatted with the cast to let you in on the influences behind the epic show!

What can people look forward to seeing if they come to watch The Saga?

Randy McKay: Three or more stories in which the through line that connects them deals with an element of the extraordinary and the effect that has not only on an individual and the world in the “moment” but also in generations past and future. Also entertaining object work.

Parmita Samanta: It’s like sitting in your grandma’s kitchen and having them tell a story and then a million family members interrupt it to correct something or add their perspective.

What influences does the show draw on?

Nolan Constantino: From The Epic of Gilgamesh to Jaden Smith’s tweets and everything in between.

Josh Cohen: You’re sitting on a fallen tree trunk. The breeze blows gently. The light shimmers through the woods. A faint rustling as a black bear appears. She moves towards you, timid but curious, almost bashful. You look into her eyes and you see: for all the horrors and confusions in the world, there can be tranquility, there can be peace, the kind of peace you can only call spiritual, that gives life vibrance and meaning. You offer the black bear cashews from your hand. She takes them, gently. Life finds a way, you think. You remember young Jeff Goldblum, and you smile. The Saga draws on this, and stuff from books.

What makes folklore, mythology and history good source material for improv?

Alessandra Calderín: It’s the very essence of our being. The original art form. The ways of old. The tales our ancestors told to make sense of the world. The foremost justifications. It’s the core of us. The archetypal fibers of humanity. Isn’t that what we’re trying to get to at the core of improv? To lose ourself so deeply and allow our unconscious to pull forth and built with one another a story that’s woven from the very thread of the collective? Besides, you know, making jokes and stuff.

Exactly how epic is the show?

Parker Phinney: Picture an open field. Now picture it covered in snow. No wait, the snow is just very very tiny diamonds. Now there’s a giant tree-person taller than Mount Everest marching towards the field, humming the latest Kanye West thing. No, there’s more than one. Hundreds. Quick! Turn around. It’s your whole family. Now they’re fading into nothing before your eyes. You reach out a hand. You have a hoof. You’re a centaur. Millions of fairies swoop in like locusts, shrieking the latest Kanye West thing. The camera zooms out–field, continent, planet, solar system, galaxy. The Saga is at least twice as epic as that.

If you were a character from any sci-fi/fantasy/mythological story, who would you be?

Amanda Corday: As far as fantastical characters go, I’m big on Frodo Baggins. I like to bring his essence with me onto the stage for Saga, and all improv really.

Jana Heaton: My second screen name was “Gollumslover4evrm” and I feel it very much is still the case. #4evrIs4evr.

 


Experience the extraordinary at The Saga, Monday February 19 at 7:30!

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