Magnet Theater Blog

Monday July 31, 2017, 4:02pm - by Promo Team

Our old pal George Basil (HBO’s Crashing, TBS’ Wrecked, Netflix’s Flaked) returns to New York this week to take on two of Magnet’s greatest improv duos: Kornfeld & Andrews and Trike! We sat down with George to talk about his work in television, his passion for improv, and his favorite spots to return to in NYC.

MAGNET: What are some current and upcoming projects you’re pumped about?

GB: I’m excited for a couple things coming up. One is an animated show that some friends are making, and I’ll be the voice of a centaur (dream come true), and the other is a series I’m developing about a single dad and his cool kid titled “Rad Dad.”

M: You’ve got some improv shows coming up at Magnet with Kornfeld & Andrews and Trike – what excites you about doing improv?  What keeps you coming back?

GB: The same thing that excites me about playing blackjack or craps is the thing that excites me about improv: the total unknown. No matter how good you think you are, sometimes the earth’s rotation has got it out for you. What keeps me coming back? The Magnet will always feel like my home.

M: Between your characters on Crashing, Flaked, and Wrecked – which is most similar to you?

GB: Probably Lief from Crashing. He’s impulsive but finds different philosophies he can use as a way to justify his sometimes irresponsible actions. I do that shit.

M: Who’s your favorite improviser and why? 

GB: Dan Bakkhedal, for sure. I used to watch him whiz mentally around a stage and it didn’t matter who his scene partner was, he totally listened to them and supported every move they made. I could watch that man do anything.

M: What are you most excited about doing during your time back in NY? 

GB: Aside from the rad shows at Magnet, I’m always stoked to revisit my old neighborhood in Brooklyn and reminisce through places I used to eat. Even just walking the same streets that took me to the train gets me all excited. Mostly excited for the shows though. It’s been too long.

George Basil joins Trike this Saturday, August 5th at 9 pm! You can also see him with Kornfeld & Andrews this Sunday, August 6th at 7:30 pm!

Thursday July 27, 2017, 10:18am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Keith Rubin

Which team or show are you on?

Just Karen

Where are you from?

Maryland

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I started doing improv in high school, and joined an improv group in college to have a group of people who were contractually obligated to be my friends. Then when I moved to New York, I studied improv and sketch at UCB and performed informally there and at the PIT before landing at the Magnet sketch program in a more official capacity.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I’ve been performing since high school, and writing for about four years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

I’d truly love to do an improv scene with Jason Sudeikis and try to out-straight-man each other for the entire duration of it. As for writing, if I could just be a fly on the wall when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hang out, that’s probably about as educational an experience as you could get. Alternatively, I’d love to just watch how Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright operate on a set and take copious notes.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

I’ve recently been working on an impression of the least attractive Hemsworth brother, but…dream scenario? I’d want to impersonate one of the more attractive Hemsworth brothers. And also write something for Martin and Morgan Freeman and call it “The Freemans: Brothers From Another Mother.”

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Extremely specific, extremely dumb things. In this regard, Clickhole is a godsend to me.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

A Songza playlist entitled “90’s Crowd-Pleasing Hits.” Songza because it is as obsolete as my knowledge of music, and 90’s music because Third Eye Blind is the best band there is, was, or ever will be.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

“How’s it going?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

If I’m free, probably cooking a nice dinner, and if not, probably seeing or doing the show that’s preventing me from being free and cooking a nice dinner.

 

Wednesday July 26, 2017, 5:57pm - by Megan Gray

Say hello to all of our new Summer 2017 Circuit teams! Come see one of their shows, Fridays at 10 pm, July 21st through September 29th! YES!

Team Bill
Coach: Abby Russell
Patrick Faerber
Sean Kehoe
Marian Rosin
Ann Nunziata
Alex Estrella
Lorina Ladrillono
Chris Yu

Team Hank
Coach: Michael Kroll
Sonia Nam
Jeremy Gundel
Brooke Puleo
Noel Hunter
Andy Lachman
Craig Lehner
Kevin Mosquera

Team Dale
Coach: Rob Penty
Angelica Florio
Michael Grosso
Ross Baron
David M. Freshwater
David Liang
Loretta Pontillo
Jana Heaton
Alyssa Kaplan

Team Boomhauer (musical)
Coach: Jacob Horn
Mark Canlas
Joe Lemonik
Randy McKay
Kristina Stasi
Stacey Weingarten
Rachel Zeolla

Wednesday July 26, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
Play

 

Magnet performer, stand-up comedian, and author Jarret Berenstein joins host Louis Kornfeld in the most recent edition of the Magnet Theater Podcast. The conversation hits a lot on politics and how Jarret feels he sounds like a “tin hat conspiracy theorist” when discussing them. Check out this podcast to learn about Jarret’s upcoming book about Kellyanne Conway, his early days as a stand up comic, and how he still plans on living in a mansion with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Jarret and Louis start out the podcast with a discussion on acting in sketches and the pros and cons of memorizing lines. Louis admits that memorizing lines in a whisper never works for when he actually needs to perform them out loud. Jarrett describes the mastery of learning all of your lines as “its own kind of fun.”

After the brief pre-podcast conversation, we learn that Jarret has a book coming out, “The Kellyanne Conway Technique: Perfecting the Ancient Art of Delivering Half-Truths, Fake News, and Obfuscation?With a Smile.” He was hired by the publishing company to make fun of Kellyanne Conway because knew someone at the publishing company who figured he’d have time to do write the book. (Also, because he’s funny. Duh.) He discusses his frustration with watching her lies and getting even more frustrated with the fact that her candidate won.

They start to talk about revenge against comedians – how unfunny people like Mike Huckabee and Kellyanne Conway are now trying to be comedic themselves. Jarret explains that he was unable to watch Kellyanne Conway’s stand-up comedy tape because he knew it would anger him too much. They discuss how the people who are considered funniest tend to be more liberal and how when conservatives make jokes they gain support not because people think they are funny but because people agree with them.

Louis thinks that Jarrett is very well-tempered when it comes to politics. We learn that Jarret spent all of November on Reddit and spent much of that time fighting with other users who he figures were Russians acting like Americans who support Trump, and how he realized it was such a waste of time. Though he was extremely angry, he realized “that rage is not going to change anyone’s mind.”

Jarret talks about his stand-up comedy and how he wants to start putting political humor into his act but he knows that when he starts talking about politics he sounds like a “tin hat” conspiracy theorist. He describes his faces in improv vs his faces in stand up. While he improvises, Jarret notices that he will break often and have a hard time not smiling because he’s having fun. While in stand-up, he explains, his face is more “I’m looking at you in a serious way even though what I said was ridiculous.”

Louis asks Jarret if he feels confident as a performer with ten years of stand-up comedy experience. Jarret thinks that he is and tells Louis about how comedians can grow as performers. Jarret reflects on starting out as a stand-up comedian at “bringer” shows and how embarrassing they are as a comic.

Despite his current focus on stand-up, Jarret’s first love was improv. He talks about SNL, Comedy Central, listening to comedy albums – about not even knowing what the jokes were about but liking the rhythm of stand-up. He remembers playing MASH with his friends where he ended up living in a mansion with Gwyneth Paltrow as a paid improviser. That would be the life.

To close out the podcast, Louis discusses Kliph Nesteroff’s book “The Comedians” and how it does a great job going through the history of comedy. Jarret and Louis agree that relevance is an interesting aspect of comedy – Jarret thinks that “it’s weird that generations can grow up not seeing the best version of somebody.”

Pick up Jarret’s book, “The Kellyanne Conway Technique” when it’s released in August and come to his book launch show at Magnet on Monday, 8/7, at 7:30 pm!

Thursday July 20, 2017, 10:04am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Chloe Metzger

Which team or show are you on?

Astro Tramps

Where are you from?

My birth certificate says Tecumseh, Michigan, but my aversion to change says a dozen different states at two-year intervals throughout my childhood.

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

My brother was in an improv group in high school, and I remember watching one of his short-form shows as a 14-year-old kid and truly believing they could read each other’s minds. It was honestly awe-inspiring. So I joined the group, learned telepathy—along with a ton of really, really bad improv habits—and then continued to improvise in college with a 12-person Harold team that competed in tournaments and hugged a lot.

How long have you been performing/writing?

Does the time I played Miss Fezziwig in a community production of “A Christmas Carol” count? I was 12. It was moving.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Honestly, my ideal scene partners are my closest improv friends. I consistently have the most fun and the best scenes with the people I really love and trust. But if they were all busy, I’d settle for Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Zach Woods.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

I would love to impersonate Carol Burnett, because I’ve been told by exactly four people that we have similar mannerisms, and I’d like to put my wiggly arms to good use. As for writing, it would be a dream to work with Dan Harmon, or to get paid to write anything and everything for McSweeny’s.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Bits. I freaking love bits, especially when they occur in the middle of an ordinary conversation with a group of strangers at a party. A.k.a. most people’s worst nightmare. That, and super-silly tag runs—the ones where the entire team is breaking, and you feel like you’re being suffocated by a big ol’ cloud of happiness.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

My “soundtrack” is one song played on repeat, 37 times a day, for two weeks straight, until I vehemently hate it and can’t listen to it again for at least a decade. That’s generally a mix of stupidly catchy radio hits, or a favorite oldie from some 2005 indie band (what up, The Hush Sound).

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

“What’s your Myers Briggs personality type? Wait, you’ve never taken the test? Here, let me text you the link. OK, take it right now. I’ll wait. Done?”

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

At home, making burgers, and avidly avoiding peer-pressured texts to come out for “just one drink.”

If you could only watch films from a certain decade for the rest of your life, which period would you choose?

The early ’00s, because I miss living in a world of cotton-candy-colored velour sweatsuits, Limited Too, and Chad Michael Murray circa “Cinderella Story.” Actually, I would like to only watch “Cinderella Story” for the rest of my life.

Wednesday July 19, 2017, 11:35am - by Magnet Theater

Greetings, Magnet Theater Friends and Family!

This September will mark the end of the current Megawatt season and also the two-year mark of my tenure as Megawatt Director. With the changing of the season (and a baby on the way) I have decided to step down and hand the baton off to the incredible Hannah Chase!

Hannah will officially be taking over with the next round of auditions and start of the new season in mid-September. Dates for auditions will officially be announced on this blog at a later date.

I’m endlessly blown away by the talent, creativity, and camaraderie of the Megawatt performers and members of the community, and Wednesday nights are always a highlight of my week. It has been an honor and a privilege to get to watch and be a part of four hours of some of the best improv anywhere every Wednesday for the past two years.

Megawatt is the greatest, and it just keeps getting better. I plan on bringing my baby to watch when she is old enough.

Nick

Wednesday July 19, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
Play

 

Writer, performer, and avid footballer, LORENA RUSSI, joins host Louis Kornfeld to talk about making the world a better, more evolved place through comedy and how old they both feel. Lorena and Louis discuss how people often put others in easy-to-recognize boxes, why slower comedy appeals to them more, and Lorena’s experience writing for The Kat Call on YouTube. Tune in to hear them shake hands at the end!

Our episode kicks off with Louis mispronouncing Lorena’s name, but it’s okay because it leads to a great conversation on identity and the importance of her name. Sorry, Louis – there’s no going back! Lorena describes her frustrations improvising as an “alpha female […] masculine center” person which gets them talking about how people very quickly and commonly put others into the most readily recognizable boxes available. Lorena touches on the common occurrence of having to be everyone’s source of information and how it can be exhausting to constantly explain things to people.

Lorena and Louis discuss improv as sport versus improv as theater and which parts of each tend to produce humor. Find out why Lorena prefers watching slower shows and why it’s harder for her to enjoy improv shows these days. Our heroes get to talking about entertainment overload and how digital platforms simultaneously wear us out and provide a higher level of accessibility to performers of color than ever before. Lorena calls out Master of None for not being very good and Louis calls the internet the cigarette of our generation. Wow. Hot takes all around! Contrasting the rapidity of the internet, Lorena and Louis chat about needing time to process things, a conversation that involves acknowledging sadness, using power words, and not allowing “darkness of the soul” to creep in too much.

Talking about Lorena’s experience writing for The Kat Call, we hear about what a great environment it was to work in and how it was a part of an overall arc within Lorena’s comedy career of asking the question, “What are we trying to say?” After mentioning how old she feels for the third or fourth time, Lorena wonders how she might accomplish being less angry at the world. Stay tuned for further critiques and assessments on social media! She and Louis also tackle the concept of playing flawed characters on stage and how there is a responsibility to make sure the audience knows they’re flawed. This leads to discussing the responsibilities of making the world a better, more evolved place in general, but particularly for communities that are threatened. We almost go down a Trump rabbit hole, but pull up just in time! Louis says something mysterious and cool: that we have to “grieve the result of our nightmares.”

Finally, our host and wonderful guest attempt to end this episode on a positive note, but you’ll have to listen to see how they do. And of course, Evan takes a picture of Lorena and Louis for social media purposes!

Monday July 17, 2017, 3:57pm - by Magnet Theater

Ringers Newsletter

Monday, July 31st at 7:30 is Ringers, a tri-annually sketch show produced by Armando Diaz and Amanda Xeller. Ringers features sketches written by new and seasoned writers, fresh acting from improvisers, and direction by eager and practiced sketch voices. The show as a whole showcases both recognizable and up-and-coming talents of the Magnet Theater.

July’s show will feature:
Sketches by Aidan Daley-Hynes, Annemarie Cullen, Catherine Elder, Levi Friedman, Maya Danzig, Michael Ganley, Phoebe Torres, Valerie Wang, and Will Arthur

Direction by Alex Stark, David Fried, Gina Cucci, Katie Sicking, Lauren Faylor, Matt Abedi, Matt Morea, and Patrick Grizzard.

And starring Alessandra Calderin, Amanda Melhuish, Ann Herberger, Arthur Velwest, CJ Watrobski, Dorrie Jankowski, Eric Noreen, Garett Press, Isaac Jiminez, Isabella Way, Jennette Cronk, Joe Lemonik, Josh Schiavone, Kristina Stasi, Matthew Sellitti, Melanie Rubin, Olia Toporovsky Gomez-Delgado, Rachelle White, Saidah Dunston, Veronica Venture, and Will Cybriwsky.

CLICK HERE FOR RESERVATIONS

Thursday July 13, 2017, 10:03am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Kristen Loe

Which team or show are you on?

Trouble Town

Where are you from?

New Jersey

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I grew up watching comedy but other than some comedy videos I would make as a kid, I didn’t write or perform much. When I moved to NYC, a friend convinced me to take an improv class and I was hooked. I’ve been steadily depleting my bank account in the name of comedy ever since.

How long have you been performing/writing?

About four years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

This is a hard one to narrow down! Tina Fey, Amy and David Sedaris, Donald Glover, the cast of Monty Python, and George Saunders. I did a poor job narrowing this down.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Dr Leo Spaceman from 30 Rock.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

I love a high status idiot. I also will never say no to watching an epic fail video compilation.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

A good mix of classic rock, rap, punk for nostalgia, and unabashedly some Pitbull because damn, he can crank out a good summer jam.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Do you have a dog? If so, can I play with your dog?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

I know it sounds both lame and cliché, but probably at home watching a show or reading a book in bed.

If you could make up an AOL Instant Messenger-esque acronym (G2G, BRB, LOL, etc.) that would apply to you, what would it be?

AOL acronym: LOF – let’s order fries ?

Wednesday July 12, 2017, 6:50am - by Magnet Theater
Play

 

Opera singer turned full-time musical improviser, KIKI MIKKELSEN, joins us to talk about all of her shows, Edinburgh Fringe, and the challenges of writing. You can see Kiki doing musical improv nearly every day of the week with her teams and shows Vern, Public Pool, Happy Karaoke Fun Time, Premiere: The Improvised Musical, Blank! The Musical, and Baby Wants Candy. Kiki is a bonafide musical improv all-star and we’re so happy that she’s on the show!

Kiki and Louis settle in for the first real conversation they’ve ever had and they don’t know it at first, but they’ll cover a lot of ground. “Tell me about yourself,” Louis begins. We hear about how Kiki came to be a full-time musical improviser and a bit about her upcoming trip Edinburgh for its Fringe Festival, which will be her first time participating. With so much improv in her life, Kiki and Louis both wonder if she can possibly keep friends outside of improv. Don’t worry, it’s a question we all must face when confronted with the obsession that is improv!

We backtrack a bit to discover where Kiki hails from (PA) and where she went to school (OKC). One of very few improvisers with an opera degree, Kiki gives Louis a crash course in opera voice types and tells us a bit about how long they take to develop. She talks about getting into improv and comedy while still working on her opera dream and she throws down this hot take: improv people are more fun than opera people! Her story starts with discovering short form and comedy in general with her best bud Lindsay Calleran. It wasn’t long before Kiki was jumping into classes at UCB, The PIT, and Magnet. Within her expansive improv education, she speaks fondly of her very special Level One Musical Improv class at Magnet with instructor Michael Martin, leading Kiki and Louis to discuss the various overlapping micro-communities within the greater improv community.

Louis asks Kiki to talk about the litany of different shows she’s a part of and they begin with Baby Wants Candy, which is about as big as it gets in musical improv! She’ll be heading to Edinburgh Fringe with BWC and talks about what she’s expecting. She also talks about her house teams Vern and Public Pool, as well as the shows Premiere: The Improvised Musical, Happy Karaoke Fun Time, and Blank! The Musical. Find out what excites her about each show and how are they all different.

Exploring beyond her current penchant for musical improv, Kiki and Louis discuss the roots of her humor and desire to perform comedy. Kiki recalls that she didn’t grow up watching a ton of comedy but then found Christopher Guest movies. Plus, Louis shares his secret dream with us. After revealing to Louis that she finds writing to be difficult to break into, he gives Kiki some inspiration for writing and they talk about how to stay motivated. Finally, Kiki expresses her belief that building something together is always funnier than working alone.