Posts Tagged ‘improv comedy’
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…
Legendary improv instructor and our good buddy from Chicago, Joe Bill, is stopping by Magnet to teach a one day workshop on Sunday, September 3rd, from 1-4 pm. Joe will be teaching a new version of his newest workshop “The First 30 Seconds” which focuses on the verbal, emotional, physical, and psychological content of the first 30 seconds of scenes to help you get optimally grounded and connected to what’s happening REGARDLESS of the approach/style in which you’re playing.
In Improvisation, so often, the ending is in the beginning. Let Joe help you begin your scenes in service to yourself, your scene partners, and the show youre doing. He’ll show you how to attack the first 0-15 & 15-30 seconds (The Golden Time) of a scene. This includes the mindset of readiness, playing with energy variety for initiations, strategic & emotional listening, awareness of interpersonal vs. circumstantial dialogue, and tracking the context through patterns that you establish right from the start. Everyone will walk out of this workshop with at least a couple of new tools that they can begin to employ immediately.
Interested? Come play! Cost is $50. Just email Joe to reserve your spot! Email jbillscp [at] yahoo [dot] com
Now this is exciting Magnet founder and improv mastermind, Armando Diaz, is set to begin teaching four classes in the month of November! If you’ve never had the chance to study with Armando, look no further.
Brand new to Magnet? Take Level 1 For Experienced Improvisers! Looking to sharpen your skills? Instant Brilliance is gonna be perfect for you! Finally fulfilling that “We should do two-prov” comment you made at the bar months ago?? Whoa baby Dynamic Duos is here for ya!! Don’t even want to do improv??? Then take that Sketch Writing Level One!!! There’s truly something for everyone, all taught by the one (and only) Armando Diaz. Sign up now now now!
Instant Brilliance starting November 14th
Level 1 For Experienced Improvisors starting November 15th
Sketch Writing Level One starting November 16th
Dynamic Duos starting November 21st
The Maggies are upon us once again! Tonight marks the night we award such meaningful prizes as Best Laugh Award and the Herbstman Humanitarian Award and celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Magnet. Before we do all of that though, check out this video of the opening number from last year’s Maggies. It’s got master of ceremonies Peter McNerney singing and dancing all over the place. See you tonight!
For over four years, Brick has entertained Megawatt audiences each week with their hilarious, multifaceted attack and undeniable originality and last night, the Magnet community gave them the send-off they deserved.
With a full hour at their disposal, Brick began their set with a slideshow capturing the chemistry of a team that has spent over four years together and retained six of their eight original members with two delightful additions along the way. (They even had former member Tim Eberle cheering them on from the audience, showing the support that helped define such a team.) After the slideshow, the lights dimmed, Helter Skelter dropped in, rising in volume as the cast banged against the backstage wall, and Brick finally entered to do what they do best give one hell of an improv show.
The ensuing set from Brick’s Rick Andrews, Julia Hynes, Joe Miles, Branson Reese, Amie Roe, Jamaal Sedayao, Caitlin Steitzer, and Jed Teres was filled with hilarity and indicative of a team that not only knows how to have fun with each other, but are also experts of the form. As the show reached its anticipated climax, the lights came down and the audience burst into a display of appreciation. The praise continued for the rest of the night and we’re sure the conversations about them will continue for years.
From their beginnings as “New Team Brick” to their Oh Shit! INSPIRADO throwdown to their string of “new form” shows, Brick has been a darling of Megawatt and improv at Magnet, and they will surely be missed.
Check out the videos and photos below from last night!
Louis Kornfeld gets up on his soapbox along with Michael Girts and Mike Descoteaux to preach the virtues of bringing musical improv to the big stage. Blank! The Musical is a big budget improvised musical playing Off-Broadway at New World Stages in NYC. Louis talks with both Mikes about the hard work and planning that goes into producing such an incredible show, and how framing the performance and accepting the audience as an integral part of the show help to propel on-the-spot theater to new heights.
Enjoy Episode #22 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.
On this episode of the Magnet Podcast, host Alex Marino chats it up with improviser and yogi Emily Shapiro about teaching yoga and doing improv in Costa Rica, Emily’s affection for Lord of the Rings, and people who look like Smeagol.