Posts Tagged ‘improv comedy’
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?
Which team or show are you on?
Oh boy. I’m with Gary from HR (sketch), Good @ Sports (indie), FAM (indie), The Neighbors (Megawatt), and then a smattering of duos: Just 2 Brothers w/ John Ross, Can’t Catch A Cab w/ Ashley Glicken, Father & Son w/ Brendan Goggins, and Squirtle Squad w/ Aditya Otiv. I also am directing The Multiplex, which is a fun lil’ form near and dear to me. Eaves is also an indie trio I’m on but we’re less of a team these days and more of a state of mind.
Where are you from?
I’m from Brooklyn and I went to school on Long Island. Yes, I commuted everyday.
How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?
Honestly, I found improv after finding live theater as a creative outlet. My older brother was an improvisor so I took a whack at it in college. I think I probably considered myself more of a actory-type boy than a comedy-type boy… but I found improv and loved it. Took a break after college and picked it back up in 2015.
How long have you been performing/writing?
I learned to read very early and have been writing since I was 3, I shit you not. All of the stuff I wrote when I was 3 was garbage. I didn’t really establish my voice until I was eight. I’ve been writing very well ever since.
I started acting in high school. I was just coming out of homeschool into my formative teen years so I was naturally a bit of a quiet weirdo with voices running around his head.
Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?
Scene partner? Either Keegan Michael Key or Aubrey Plaza. I saw Keegan in Hamlet where he played Horatio. I thought he did such a good job adding light to a play that’s actually VERY funny. I think he’s obsessed with pathos in the same way that I am. Aubrey Plaza because I think she’s an insanely underrated actor who Warner Bros should be paying $500,000,000 to play the Joker. I shit you not, she’s the best incarnation of the Joker that will never be performed.
My ideal writing partner would probably be Jordan Peele, for very obvious reasons. I think he and I would write a kick-ass superhero movie together. I already have the plot and everything. My next pick would be David Lynch. I would like to write with him because I love his films, but feel guilty because there are never enough black characters.
Who would you most like to impersonate or write for?
Impersonate: Jeff Goldblum. He’s an actor I love, and a natural comic talent that I love but CANNOT impersonate.
I’d like to write for LaKeith Stanfield. He’s a special kind of weird. Maybe a Lethal Weapon type cop movie with LaKeith and me playing Jeff Goldblum is the thing I oughta work on.
What makes you laugh the hardest?
Without going into too much detail: Sadness.
Describe the soundtrack to your life!
- Mercy Mercy Me – Marvin Gaye, because this song is my politics.
- Rikki Don’t Lose That Number – Steely Dan, because I am a figurative dad.
- 2Shy – Shura, because, yeah, I’m totally that girl who didn’t feel cool in high school and dresses like cool people she sees on TV.
- Bad Girls – Solange ft. Kendrick Lamar, because it sounds like a rainy and you’re sad, but chillin’.
- Cool – Gwen Stefani, because breakups should be healthier in this culture we live in.
- Frank Ocean – Wise Man, because this is some baller ass shit to play at a funeral.
- Bambi – Prince, because this is what it sounds like to beat up a bully.
- That Power – Childish Gambino, because this is what Summer 2003 sounds like.
- Princes of the Universe – Queen, because this is what it sounds like when Mercury is in Retrograde again and you’re READY for it.
- Starman – David Bowie, because David Bowie is good.
- Kiss It Better – Rihanna, because this is the sexiest song ever written, but also sounds like the happy medium between sex during the apocalypse, and a regular co-dependent relationship.
- Cristo Redentor – Donald Byrd, because it sounds like a peaceful death.
- All That – Carly Rae Jepsen, because the first time I heard it after I saw Moonlight for the first time and literally cried tears of joy on the L Train home. This song is all of the cosmic highs and pre-apocalyptic lows of a little crush.
- La La Means I Love You – The Delfonics, because goddamn it, I love a black wedding.
- In Your Room – Airiel, because I should have been in my 20s in the 90s.
I have to stop here, because if I don’t I’ll be here forever.
What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?
How someone answers “What’s your favorite superhero” usually tells me everything I need to know about a person’s values.
Where can we find you on a Saturday night?
Gassed Up w/ Good @ Sports! 10:30pm! And if by some twist of fate I’m not doing improv, I am at some movie theater. Or on the subway listening to shoegaze, smiling and crying next to some ghost while metal spiders crawl out of my body.
What’s your favorite Disney Channel Original Movie?
Say hello to all of our new Conservatory Circuit teams! Come see one of their shows, Fridays at 10 pm, starting May 4th at the Magnet Training Center, 22 W 32nd St., 10th Floor. YES! Shows run through June 8th.
The Conservatory Circuit features improv ensembles made-up of both Magnet students and veteran Magnet performers. Every week, three teams take the stage and perform the classic long form improv structure, The Harold.
Coach: Xavier Padin
Coach: Pat May
Coach: Tom Sanchez
Congrats to the new teams, and be sure to come and check them out!
Everyone fondly remembers their favorite early 2000s boy band: Sensitive Men Singing. Lucky for you, you have the chance to see them reunite in Sensitive Men Singing: An Improvised Reunion Show at Magnet Friday April 27th at 11:15pm. We sat down with the members of this iconic group to learn more about the show.
Who are the Sensitive Men of Sensitive Men Singing?
We are lovers
We are fighters
We are 5 men having a mid-life crisis, struggling to recapture our youthful vigor.
More specifically, we are Chris S., Chris B., Brian R., Brian H., and James B.
How did this ensemble come together?
The simple answer is we came together to see if we could harmonize and dance at the same time, and it turns out we can and we want you to see that and maybe laugh with us, or fall in love -or both.
The longer answer is that the premise for the show came from a shared love we all have of the 90’s, R&B music, and the gender constructs that are challenged within that genre and era. We really wanted to play with the tropes and characters we typically see in boy bands, comment on celebrity fanaticism, and then also just get a chance to do that lip-biting/lip-licking thing that LL Cool J does sometimes.
There’s just a lot of fun to be had when you embrace that balance of strong masculinity with the tender vulnerability that you find with this style of music. Add to that, the sometimes very silly lyrics that are sung with a very serious level of vocal mastery -you can’t help but fall for that combination. Just listen to the song “Too Close” by Next. That’s a song about getting a literal boner while dancing with your girl, and it easily topped billboard charts. They were playing that song on the radio -with kids in the car! I guarantee if you play that song anywhere right now, people are going to feel great -and we want to pay homage to that. We want you to have a great time at an improv theater for 7 bucks. (Is that what you guys are charging?)
Sensitive Men Singing has been on hiatus for fifteen years… what have they been up to for all that time?
The men of SMS have had a long and complicated history of being mad at each other, but also secretly missing each other, over the course of the hiatus. They’ve all had full and varied lives; some have had families; some have had unsuccessful attempts at launching energy drink brands. They’ve all had full and varied lives, and now they all need this paycheck.
Who had the best solo career?
Our manager has advised us against answering this question.
What special guests can we expect at the SMS reunion show?
We have the amazing Dan Reitz and Miles Lindahl accompanying us and setting the mood for roMANce and FUNk.
We’ll also have an amazing opening act performance from the legendary SPICE RACK GIRLS:
(SMS would like to respectfully ask audience members NOT to ask for autographs. All requests WILL be denied.)
Sensitive Men Singing reclaims the stage with their special guests Friday, April 27th at 11:15pm!
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!
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:
See all these crush-able improvisers in action in Will They Or Won’t They at Magnet, April 9th at 9:oo pm
Did you grow up feeling different? Woody Fu did too. His one-man show Asian Gracefully is about growing up Chinese-American and tackles such topics as internecine racism and how the straight Asian male is the most marginalized group on PornHub. “Asian Gracefully” began its January-February run last Thursday, and will play again February 2 and 9 at 7:00. You only have two more chances to catch the hilarity, so don’t miss out! (And, Woody wants you to know that the last show on Feb 9 has a promotion where anyone can see it for free if they say “I’m Chinese” at the door. It’s a true thing.)
How many times have you performed “Asian Gracefully” and how has it changed over its various runs?
I’ve done this show… almost 10x? It’s gone up at the Magnet, PIT, UCB and Annoyance, plus I’ve taken it on tour to comedy festivals. It’s gone through about 4 major iterations, and for each of those I gutted about 40% of the pieces and put in new guts. That’s so it doesn’t get stale and can grow. It’s changed so much in the last year and a half: it’s gone from a traditional personal one-man show, to full blast gamey-game sketch show, to a weird mishmash of unrelated bits. I think this most recent one is the most cohesive and satisfying one. It’s certainly the most… Asian?
In taking the show from a half-hour to a full hour, it looks like you added some other cast members. Does that mean you’ll only be playing yourself, or will you explore other characters as well?
Did your experience with improv and musical improv affect your creative process for “Asian Gracefully”?
Yes and no. Improv is 100% surprise. But writing is such a solitary act and it’s basically impossible to surprise yourself. There’s a little room for improv when putting sketches on their feet with directors but for the most part I keep the two disciplines separate. I think in binary: everything’s yellow and white. Maybe because I’m… Asian?
You’re a DJ and a game designer–do we get to see you use those skills in the show?
Is there anything the audience should know ahead of time?
Don’t miss out on Asian Gracefully, Friday February 2 and/or 9 at Magnet!
We are now accepting applications for the 2018 Winter edition of The Circuit! The Circuit is a long-form improv program with teams made up of Magnet Theater students, graduates of our training program, and veteran performers. We believe that in order to get better at improv, you need to do it! The Circuit gives more people in our community a chance to work on teams with great coaches, all while performing regularly.
The deadline to apply is January 22, 2018 at noon. Teams will be announced January 23rd. First rehearsals will be the weekend of the 27th.
Circuit shows will begin Friday, February 2nd and run for 9 weeks, through March 30th. Shows in February will be at 9 pm while shows in March will be at 10 pm, all in the Studio Theater at Magnet Training Center.
To sign up, fill out the form: https://goo.gl/forms/zvQ
Questions? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org!
***Please read the following:***
– To apply, you must have completed up to Level 3 at the Magnet.
– Do not call or email registrar beforehand regarding application status.
– Circuit performers may miss no more than 3 shows or practices.
– Performers are expected to rehearse with their assigned team and coach on a weekly basis at assigned times.
– Performers are responsible for the cost of coach and space rentals.
Did you enjoy Role Playing Games and Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid? Or as an adult? If you said yes to either of those questions, You Will Die More Than Once is the perfect show for you. Hitting the Magnet stage on January 22nd, this show puts the audience in control of deciding the fate of its characters! We spoke with the show’s Dungeon Masters/creators Caitlin Steitzer, Carly Monardo, and Ali Fisher to learn more about this one of a kind show!
This show is structured like a choose your own adventure story. How did you come up with this format?
Ali: I want to say about a year ago Carly and I were having coffee and generally being fabulous creeps and we realized it’d been a while since we’d performed as Women-Shaped Holes In Hedges, our duo show that’s all about creating and populating absurd speculative worlds. In a moment of overcaffeinated excitement Carly said something like, we should invite a bunch more people to be in this show! I know it was Carly because she’s brilliant and community-minded like that. If there’s good stuff going on, her instinct is to share. We ended up coming around to the idea of creating a whole new show, but we wanted it to be just as focused on outlandish wordbuilding and character-driven action.
Carly: At around the same time I think we were both working with The Cast on how to bring our audiences into the fold a bit more; when you’ve been doing improv for a long time it can be easy to forget that the audience isn’t starting on the same page as you. I still remember how lost I was seeing a Harold for the first time. I think it’s so much more enjoyable when the people on and off stage are working from the same clean slate and discovering things simultaneously. A chooseable path format, where the audience can also help build the show, felt really exciting to me!
Ali: Hell yeah. The interactive fiction-style structure was a perfect fit. And then, having worked with Caitlin on her RPG-inspired Dragons & Dungeons show, I knew she’d not only get what we were about with this, but build it into something even better.
Caitlin: Y’all are too sweet. I was super-pumped at the idea for this show because A) I agree with Ali and Carly that it’s important to recognize that some people who come to improv shows are just from off the street and want to have fun, and that’s great and B) I’ve always loved choose your own adventure books and it’s been a long-time dream of mine to create a show that incorporates those elements.
What were you looking for in casting this show?
Carly: I wanted people whose comedic sensibilities I really love. I think everyone in this show has a distinct voice and makes big choices. That’s key!
Ali: Ideally these shows will take the performers pretty far away from their day-to-day reality and person, so we picked people who we know are going to be comfortable and excited about getting weird. We also needed really good listeners. Not only to build on each other’s absurd ideas, but also the audience’s.
Caitlin:Ditto ditto ditto! Also I think everyone in the cast is SUPER hot.
Were you a fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid? If so, what was your favorite?
Carly: Ha ha, NO! I loved reading as a kid, but not these! I was a goody toe-shoes and a nerd, so being punished by a book for making the wrong choices was not appealing to me! I see it as more of a challenge now, but I’m still the kind of person that has like 10 save files when she plays an RPG so she knows she’s going “the right way”.
Ali: Same here. I hated them. I have a massive fear of failure and those books are failure minefields by design. But I think that’s exactly what is going to make this format so great on stage–no one’s alone with the fate of the story. It’s shared experience between the performers and the audience. We’re all in it together.
Caitlin: Whoa, Ali and Carly, you were incorrect as children! These books were and still are GREAT! I had a super over-active imagination and so whatever movie or comic book I was obsessed with at the time, I would always write myself in and create these elaborate daydreams. Choose Your Own Adventure books where just a different version of that. And I also had a fear of failure, but I LOVED the books, because if I messed up, I just went back and turned to a different page.
If you could choose any fantasy creature to do an improv scene with, what would it be and why?
Carly: I’m really obsessed with the folklore of “familiars”: spirits or demons (often in the form of animals) that attend witches and other magical beings. They have a really close bond with the individual they serve; I always joke that my dog is my familiar. A magical version of my dog!
Ali: I’m thinking a garden gnome. They’d be so stoked and fun to match. Or maybe the Grim Reaper because they’ve seen some stuff.
Caitlin: Can we choose comic book characters? Because Death from Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” comics was my hero growing up, and I’d want to do improv with her. And she’s VERY different from Ali’s Grim Reaper, so I’m not just stealing Ali’s answer here.
Who would you most like to see this show?
Carly: I want people who are totally new to improv to see this show! I want it to inspire them to seek out more improv and live theater in general.
Caitlin: Everybody and their best friend.
Choose your own adventure to the Magnet stage for You Will Die More Than Once, Monday Jan 22nd at Magnet!
This month, Magnet is happy to welcome back Space Station Delta for the November Director Series. We sit down with director Sulaiman Beg to talk about the show and how he gets his hair to look so good. We don’t really talk about the last part. Come see this show, from one of you favorite Metal Boys, playing each Thursday in November at 10 pm. TimeOut NY thinks you should!
For those who have not seen Space Station Delta, could you tell us a little bit about the show?
The show is a completely improvised live performance of a classic episode from the long-running and very fictitious sci-fi TV series Space Station Delta.
I’d always wanted to do a serialized improv show where performers are challenged to play the same main characters over a run like on any sitcom or other TV show. Expanding not only their personal world, but the world they exist in.
I’d been watching a lot of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and what I loved about it was that no matter where these characters were (a store, a wedding, a bank, a football game) they always consistently acted like the garbage people they are. And I thought, why not do an improv show like this? And I was naturally attracted to the sci-fi genre because it’s the best genre for an improvisor – you can literally do and justify anything. Someone dies? Well, we’ll just pull the Time Reversal lever? Want to start a montage? Hit “play” on the Montage machine.
You’ve done this show a few times now – what do you love about it so much?
I mean, the cast is so, so great. The guest stars who I try to keep in the dark until the day of the show just fall right into place. There have been a few shows where I forgot I was watching an improvised show and felt like I was legit watching a live performance of a scripted work.
When Elana Fishbein guest starred during the first run, afterwards she told me she couldn’t believe how amazing all the characters were. And that was so great to hear. I mean, it was a compliment more for the cast and less for me, which was hurtful, and she and I never talk anymore even though we are neighbors and friends who are adults. Does that answer your question?
Do you have any specific memories of past shows that you’d like to share?
Oh man, so many. But since I typed it a few minutes ago, the Time Reversal lever comes to mind. Basically, a bunch of characters ended up dying during the course of the show and since the Time Reversal lever was set-up earlier in the show, one character pulled it and it re-started the episode. The last scene was almost a line-by-line version of the scene that began the show. That was very fun to watch.
And just watching how every guest star approaches the show is such a joy.
What can we expect from this series of shows that may be different from how you ran it in the past?
There are some new cast members and there’ll be new guest stars all month, so it’ll be a brand new experience and I’m so excited to see what they all pull off. Please “bold” every time I use the word “new” in the previous sentence. Really need it to stand out.
How did the show’s catchphrase “This really hurts!” come to be?
You know, in the two runs we’ve had, I don’t think anyone has actually used it…