Posts Tagged ‘Improv’
Prepare to laugh. Prepare to cry. Prepare to be up. Prepare to be down. Prepare to be amazed. Confused? That’s because no one can prepare for the zigzag of feels that is The Melodrama, showing Monday June 11 at 9:00! Here’s what light director Jana Heaton has to shed on the journey ahead.
What’s The Melodrama going to be like?
Over the top but not too much, you know? You know.
How high are the highs? How low are the lows? Will Jane and Rafael (Jane the Virgin) ever get their happily ever after?
Like a double chocolate, cold brew, molly-topped milkshake, we’ll leave you feeling bad all week but wanting more. Like I said, over the top but not too much.
You’ve done this show once before. Did the original run inform this newest edition?
Yes, I cut Ann Ziata. Just kidding. But she won’t be in the next show. Also, I realized I could mess with the cast via the lighting design. So, looking forward to that on Monday, June 11th at 9pm.
You guys are recommended by TimeOutNY???
Yes, we’re an important show. A very important show. Full of very funny improvisers creating impactful comedy. If you’ve read this far, you should probably come see what I mean on Monday, June 11th at 9pm. [NOTE: We’re also recommended by the instagram account, @janaheaton.]
Can we expect Lorde to make an appearance?
Slid into her DMs. Awaiting response.
Ride the roller coaster of emotion at The Melodrama, June 11 at 9:00pm!
If you’re asking yourself, where’s a good show for a gambler, a risk-taker, someone who knows when to hold ’em and knows when to fold ’em, whose boots are made for walkin’ and that’s just what they’ll do, look no further than Results May Vary, Saturday June 9 & 16 at 6! After all, the only constant in life is change. Desmond Thorne is here to help us get comfortable living in the uncertainty of it all!
Tell us about your show!
The show features a mix of performers with a sketch comedy background, and some with a theater background. It’s about half and half! I did this because I want to see how the worlds of sketch and theater can meld together in terms of writing and in terms of performance. I think two things that can really take a sketch show to the next level are specificity of environment and specificity of performance! I believe this special group of people can achieve both!
According to the ‘recipe‘ for the show, we can expect political satire, puns, and musical panache–anything else?
Along with these other elements in the “recipe”, you can expect to see a lot of Blackout sketches! I think Blackouts can really amp up the energy of the show and our writers wrote some really excellent ones! I also love to play with visual and auditory comedy in sketch shows, so expect to see and hear some of that!
Okay, we know they may vary, but what sort of results can be expected?
Whatever the results may be, they will be fun and high energy! Along with seeing how much theater we can get into a sketch show, I’d love to see if we can never drop the ball and keep the energy super high and fun for the entire 30 mins of the show!
How much of an influence did the Sketch Directing Lab have on the final product?
The Sketch Directing Lab greatly influenced the final product of the show. We were shown sketch shows from Second City in Chicago, and many of their ideas on how to approach a sketch show go along with my theatrical instincts that I’ve gathered since high school. The Lab also gave me and everyone else in the class a freedom of voice that I don’t think we get to experience very often, which leads to a lot of experimentation that you don’t usually see on the NYC comedy stage!
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!
We are thrilled to announce the next edition of Musical Circuit! These three teams (Kander, Ebb, and Prince) will perform on Saturday nights, starting May 5th at 10:30 pm, at Magnet Training Center, 22 W 32nd St., 10th Floor. We hope to see you there!
The Musical Circuit features musical improv ensembles made-up of both Magnet students and veteran Magnet performers. Every week, three teams take the stage and perform completely improvised pieces of musical theatre made just for you!
Come out and watch these great shows!
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!
We’re looking for eager improvisers (prerequisite: completion of Level 1) to participate in warm-ups and exercises run by the students in Armando Diaz’s coaching class. All the details are below—but keep in mind that space is limited. Hope to see you there!
When to be available: Saturdays, April 21st through May 19th from 1-3 pm. Volunteers must be able to attend all sessions!
How to sign up: Simply send an email to email@example.com with the subject line: “COACHING CLASS VOLUNTEER APRIL 2018” Please include your full name and verify that you can attend all sessions.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at (212) 244-2400.
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
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!