Posts Tagged ‘live comedy’
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
Names in bold are new to Musical Megawatt. Names with an asterisk* are returning to Musical Megawatt. Names in italics are joining a preexisting 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?
What should the goys know about this show? Is there any terminology they can brush up on?
Is Frank Spitznagel actually a rabbi?
Tell us about B’nai Magnet’s mission statement.
Would you advise the audience to eat kosher for 24 hours before attending?
Kick off Passover the right way with The Jewsical Seder with B’nai Magnet, Sunday, March 25 at 6:15!
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!
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?
Do you anticipate doing more of these birthday shows? What titles do you have lined up?
What are you most excited for the audience to see?
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?
Watch Jarret party on at The Fine Thirty-Nine, Sunday March 25 at 9:00pm at Magnet!
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?
What’s your favorite memory from Moonlight’s Director Series run?
Is it comforting to ditch the gravid water format? Or more challenging?
Tell us more about the improv form you’re performing. Why did you choose this form?
Out of all of the members of Good at Sports, who’s the best at sports?
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!
Congratulations to this round’s Ringers! Ringers, a tri-annual sketch show produced by Armando Diaz and Amanda Xeller, 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. The next Ringers will be Monday, March 19th, at 10:30 pm.
March’s show will feature:
Sketches by Catherine Elder, Claire Matson, Emily Draper, Fred Chong Rutherford, Kendra Augustin, Jenny Padget, Rita Thompson, and Sean Flowers
Direction by Annemarie Cullen, Carly Silverman, Catherine Montesi, Elie Stav, Gregoryc Cornejo, Jesse Mudrick, and Lauren Faylor
And starring Amanda Melhuish, Andrew Roberts, Anne Antonucci, Annie Howard, Emily Stevens, Essence Stewart, Gabriella Speilberg, Gregory Alexander, Isaac Jimenez, Jeffrey Elizabeth Copeland, Keith DiRienzo, Ladell Thomas, Michael Brantl, Peter Morris, Sara Parelhoff, Simon Shannon, Sonia Nam, Tim Layman, and Will Larson
How many of your friends are tarot readers, yogis, witches and sexually active humans? Oh, all of them? Great! So is Alessandra Calderin, creator and host of the new show Sex Magic :: A Taboo Busting, Sex Positive, Magic Making Event. On Sunday, January 7th (6 pm), she’s assembling a delicious lineup of performers to put on a taboo busting, sex positive and magic making event featuring true stories, confessions, education, burlesque and even a spell or two. We talk to Alessandra about sex, magic, and putting together the show!
What’s the inspiration for your show Sex Magic?
We all love sex, but we seem to have a hard time with it. As a sexually obsessed AND repressed society, there are all these conflicting messages about what’s acceptable coming from what feels like a million different directions. I could literally go on for days about how the complexity of all this messes us up, but suffice it to say, it feels very unsexy, unfun and at worst, dangerous.
This manifests itself in every community in its own ways, including ours, whether it’s a creepy scene partner, or a fear of ever broaching the subject both on and off stage.
Sex magic itself is the practice of using the energy of sexuality and orgasm to set intentions and manifest desires and goals, and so this show is my manifestation of a free fun and safe space to talk about sex!
How did you assemble the team of amazing performers featured in this show?
I’m very lucky to have amazing friends and fellow performers who say yes to me. It was a lot of texting and Facebook messages just saying “hey do you want to talk about sex on stage with me?” And some folks were just like yeah just tell me what you want me to do. Other folks, like the lovely Chris de la Cruz, had their own amazing ideas to add to the show. So, in short, luck and friendship.
What is Boneseed and how did you create it?
Boneseed is my moniker for the work I do with tarot, yoga and intuitive healing. I quit my corporate job about a year ago and have been building my private practice ever since. Actually, my first public workshop was called Creating Sex Magic and was a yoga and writing workshop that focused on the Sacral Chakra, which is the area around the pelvis where we store our creative and sexual energy. It’s kind of my favorite part of the body and sexual exploration and freedom is where I’m really able to offer a lot of ideas and insight since I’ve studied the pelvic floor and cycled through my own range of issues with regards to both physical and emotional blockages down there.
You can learn more about Boneseed and what I do at www.boneseed.co.
What’s the best way to build space for sex positivity in the improv community?
Literally just talking about it in a real way. I feel like sex in scenes can get awkward because people feel forced to do things they don’t want to do, but the beauty of improv is that you get to make shit up. You don’t have to rub yourself against your scene partner. Maybe sex in this world is rubbing elbows like in Rocky Horror Picture Show.
There’s also a hypersensitivity right now, which is not unwarranted. People have real reasons for fearing abuse in our culture and society, but sometimes we jump to conclusions during teachable moments, or turn people into villains without considering how to reintegrate offenders. I’m talking about the world at large here, but it all applies. The tricky thing is I’m on both sides. I want people to feel protected, but I also LOVE to flirt and exchange that dynamic energy with people. It’s the most fun, but it’s also gotten me into situations that I haven’t wanted to be in. For me, this journey has been about no longer blaming myself for situations I couldn’t control, but simultaneously taking responsibility and, in turn, reclaiming my own power.
And this journey is constant, right? I think we just need to be able to make mistakes as long as we’re not hurting anyone. I think we need to be honest with each other. Ask questions. Choose curiosity over judgement. All easier said and done, especially when it comes to sex since we all have hitched a lot of baggage to that wagon. (And if you’re reading this and thinking, “I don’t have any baggage around sex,” I bet you have extra baggage that you don’t even see.)
If you had to choose between sex and magic for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Impossible. Sex is magic. Magic is sex. If I can have sex, I’m making magic. If I can practice magic, there’s alchemical and sexual energy in motion. It’s all life force. It’s all the sparks that connect us and keep us reaching for one another. It’s what we write and draw and create for. It is what we are.
Make sure you don’t miss Sex Magic :: A Taboo Busting, Sex Positive, Magic Making Event this Sunday, 1/7, at 6 pm. Your pelvic floor will thank you!
Tired of seeing fat guys relegated to sidekicks and punchlines? Tom Sanchez is too. That’s why he wrote the action and music packed solo show Fat Friend, coming to the Magnet stage on December 29th. Here’s our conversation with Tom about Fat Friend, his sketch team Just Karen, and the magic of singing cops.
How did you get involved with Magnet?
I had heard of the Magnet through some friends who had taken classes there, so after a particularly rough class at UCB, I signed up for my Level 1 Class at the Magnet and never looked back!
What’s the inspiration behind your show Fat Friend?
I was tired of always going in to audition to play the fat sidekick in shows, commercials, etc, so I decided to write a show where the fat guy finally gets to be the hero, and not a punchline. Also I wanted to be able to do a dance, talk in an Australian accent, and eat pizza on stage and the only way that would ever happen was if I wrote myself that show!
Fat Friend involves the cast of the fictional sitcom “Totes in Love.” What’s your favorite bad sitcom?
This isn’t technically a sitcom, but the show “Cop Rock” is a very bad show from 1990 that I love. It’s a police procedural musical, in which these gritty cops break into song during the episodes. It’s basically Law and Order meets Glee, and everyone should look up the song “Let’s be Careful Out There” on Youtube immediately.
How has the show changed since it went up at the theater earlier this year?
It’s about 15 minutes shorter, first of all, and I’ve added more jokes, so hopefully it packs more of a punch, and is tighter, overall. Also, I’m updating the dances, and yes, there are 2 dance numbers in the 30 minute show!
How is your process different in a solo show than creating with your sketch team Just Karen?
Just Karen is great because we have this great team of writers who write these great sketches for you, and a great team of performers who are all very talented, so the whole process so much more fun and collaborative. The solo show is more difficult because its just me in the room, so there’s no one to bounce ideas off of, but I get to create and do whatever I want to do in the show, which is its own kind of fun!
What do you like better– sketch or improv? (You have to choose!)
Ok, let me just say that I love my sketch team VERY much and I think they are all VERY talented, but I gotta go with improv! There are no lines to learn, no costumes to bring, no props to worry about, so you just get to be weird and wild!
What’s your all time favorite Bonnie Tyler song and why?
Even though its (spoiler alert) NOT in the show, I’m going with the classic, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” The music video is incredible and the song is so mysterious. Who is Bright Eyes and why won’t they turn around?
A new Megawatt season began last month and, with it, a new Megawatt Director in Hannah Chase! Hannah has been an instructor and performer at Magnet for years now and, in addition to directing The Cast, performs every Thursday with The Music Industry. We sat down with her to talk about her vision for Megawatt and to shed some light on the woman behind the curtain!
What are a few things you’re excited about for this upcoming Megawatt season?
I think Megawatt is in a really exciting place right now. We’ve got three new awesome teams and three existing teams that got new members. Even for the two teams without anyone new, the excitement of having fresh teams and players as part of the night definitely brings new energy to everyone on Megawatt.
What have you learned from the past Directors that you plan to carry with you to the future of Megawatt?
Oh man, I can’t say enough good things about Louis and Nick (the two previous Megawatt Directors I’ve had the pleasure of working with). Both of them brought such commitment, creativity, and warmth to the job (and to the night in general) that I can only hope to continue. To get specific, I am in constant awe of Louis’s thematic and philosophical eye when it comes to improv, and I deeply admire how much he pushed teams to be thoughtful about the overall presentation of their shows. Under Louis’s guidance, it didn’t just feel like we were doing improv, it felt like we were creating art that actually meant something. As for Nick, I continually marvel at his ability to inspire improvisors to genuinely play with each other. Megawatt can be a stressful place sometimes (unfortunately) and Nick did an A+ job at getting teams to gel, to support each other, and to truly play. These are some big shoes to fill, but I’m trying my best and will continue to!
Is there anything new that you’re hoping to bring to Megawatt?
I don’t think I can really claim this as “new,” but one thing I felt (and continue to feel) excited about is the idea of creating teams with a very specific style/vibe (or even a specific form) in mind. I’ve seen and been on lots of teams that felt like a perfect balancing act of improv styles and skills: a few big aggressive silly players, a few grounding and “actorly” players, a few folks with a sharp eye for pattern, and one or two improvisors who consistently use a wider lens to look at the whole piece in order to tie things together or enter toward the end with a walk on that is so perfect it feels scripted. The right balance of players on a team can create something truly great, and we’ve seen time and again that this works.
I’d heard it said before that it was inadvisable to create a team of players who all played similarly, and this always confused me. I can see that you wouldn’t necessarily want to make a team with eight players who all have the same limitations, but I think a team of eight like-minded (or like-styled) talented improvisors sounds genuinely thrilling. After all, the way we describe Megawatt to current and prospective students is a night in which you can spend four hours seeing eight completely different teams that represent a wide variety of improv and comedy styles. So…I wanted to double down on that! Long story [not so] short, each new team is made up of players with similar skillsets and the ability to play and [hopefully] have fun in a very specific style. Not to say that each team doesn’t have stylistic differences among the players, but we tried to match people who we thought would bring similar strengths, gel stylistically, and challenge each other to further hone those skills!
Who are the new Megawatt ensembles and what can we expect from them?
If you haven’t had a chance to see the three new Megawatt teams, You Are Missing Out. Here’s a little info about each one:
She Wolf was created to do organic improv, and they have taken to it like gangbusters. This is an exceptionally collaborative, playful, attentive team of improvisers. And they’ve been adding one organic skill/muscle/device each week, so the team is constantly evolving. If you saw them a few weeks ago, seeing them again will be a totally different experience. They’re doing weird stuff, in the absolute best sense of that word. Highly recommend!
Drama is the first Megawatt team in a long while to do an expansion. These eight improvisors are top notch actors who all excel at creating complicated, honest, unique characters that will somehow make you both laugh and care! In each show, they weave a web of lovable weirdos (in the absolute best sense of that word) and you’ll walk away feeling like you just saw an excellent, hilarious play. Highly recommend!
Scout is a fast, spunky, sharp-as-tacks group of improvisers doing a Harold. With a flare for the weird (in the best sense of that word), this is a group of truly unafraid and delightfully silly players who will jump on board anything and everything without hesitation. This is an ensemble that knows how to set each other up for success and laughs, and they do so effortlessly and with just the tiniest bit of snark. Highly recommend!
Can you tell us about a fond memory you have from your past as a Megawatt player?
When I first got onto Megawatt, I was horribly insecure and totally terrified (I cried a lot those first few months). That isn’t a fond memory, I know, but it’s true! But here’s the fond part: when I first got onto a team, I had so many people (lots of whom were veterans I’d admired from afar for years) reach out to both congratulate me and also offer up their ear(s) if ever I wanted to chat. I ended up taking a bunch of them up on that offer and was really grateful to connect with so many interesting people, many of whom had gone through similarly fraught adjustment periods when they first got on house teams. This shit is hard, man! And connecting with people who had been through similar experiences and had come out a-o-k was really helpful and meaningful for me. Megawatt isn’t just a collection of teams, it’s a community, and the generosity and support I received in those first few weeks has continued to this day. Sorry, I go sentimental real easy…did you want a funny memory? Once my team, TMI, did a super long tag run in which I got to actually slap each one of them in the face (!) over and over. It was totally bonkers but also felt ok because people were literally tagging in just to be slapped by me, which demonstrated the particularly high level of trust that’s always been present on that team. See, I made it sentimental again. Ugh I’m the worst.
Catch Megawatt every Wednesday at 7, 8, 9, and 10 pm, which two teams playing each hour. $7 for the whole night!