Posts Tagged ‘q&a’

Wednesday September 13, 2017, 7:00am - by evan barden

Matt Koff is a comedian, recovering improviser, and Emmy-award winning writer for his work on The Daily Show. As one of the first Magnet students, Matt brings his comedy back to the theater for a stand-up comedy series. “Matt Koff & Friend” features a half hour of comedy from Koff himself, as well as another half hour from a comedian of his choice.

How long have you been performing stand-up comedy?

For about 7 years now. I had been doing sketch and improv for about 5 years prior to that. I’m old. Older than the Tennessee Valley herself, some might say.

How would you compare the NYC stand-up scene from when you first started to now?

When I started there seemed to be a lot of crazy people at open mics. I do fewer mics now but the ones I go to don’t seem to have people who’ve just wandered in from Times Square talking about how they’d like to rape the Statue of Liberty or whatever.
As far as I can tell it hasn’t really changed. I’ve changed a little bit. In the beginning I was one of the scared newbies at mics who just hoped my 4 minutes of jokes worked. Now I’m less scared and not a newbie. I’m old. So old. Although trying out a new joke will always make me nervous. One day I hope to stop caring, so I can finally start talking about my true passion: sexually assaulting large statues.

Can you tell us about a time that you “bombed” on stage?

Yes. I can tell you about several times. But the worst I’ve ever bombed is when I was at The Comedy Store in LA. It was my first and so far only time performing there, I went up at like 1:30am and there was just silence. I swear I could hear the ghost of David Letterman weeping.

When did you start taking classes at Magnet Theater? Did you learn anything from the classes that you still use in your work today?

I started taking classes here when it first opened. Before that I’d been studying with Armando when he taught classes independently. That’s right, PRE-Magnet. Which makes me a pretty cool guy.
One thing I learned that I still use today, mainly in writing, is to patiently explore an idea and don’t be afraid of letting it form organically. Armando also stressed the importance of being a philosopher and constantly asking why things are the way they are in every day life, which is hugely important in every form of comedy, especially stand-up.

What does stand-up comedy bring to you that improv does not?

With stand-up, you don’t have to wait for anyone. You can go and do 3 sets a night and develop as fast as you want to develop. It also gives you an opportunity to hone and workshop an act again and again which I find really fulfilling.
But every so often I will do improv with the other Daily Show writers, and I find that fun in a completely different way, because obviously there’s no real plan and you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
In hindsight, I think I have more fun doing improv. But I didn’t start doing comedy to have “fun.” I did it to suffer. And for the free drink tickets. 😉

Who would be your ideal guest to perform the 2nd half hour on Matt Koff & Friend?

Adam Wade. And I was lucky enough to get him!

How do you like performing stand-up in an improv theater setting?

I like it a lot. The audiences are really smart, and there are very few drunk bachelorette parties in the audience who interrupt my set and laugh at the wrong parts of the joke. Quiet, ladies! “So I just had arm surgery” is not a punchline!

Come see Matt Koff & Friend Monday September 18th at 9pm with special guest Adam Wade! 

 

Tuesday September 12, 2017, 5:42pm - by Promo Team

Musical Megawatt performer Chris Bell bares all about his his upcoming show Comic Strips. With the help of his friends, Chris combines the styles of burlesque and game shows into a night of fun and laughter. This comedy boylesque show will make its Magnet Theater premiere Friday, September 15th, at 11:15pm.

What is Comic Strips and when did it become a show at the Magnet Theater?

Comic Strips is a comedy boylesque & game show. It’ll be a night of odd character stripteases and bawdy games hosted by the fabulous Madame Jiji. The night will really be an experiment of an idea I had years ago (more on this to come later) and is the show’s birthday so if you want to see how babies are made, come to the show!

 

Disclaimer: Actual babies will not be made at this show.

 

What kind of games will you be playing during Comic Strips?

There will be games of mystery and intrigue, exocitc games from the ancient tribes of South East Africa, but most importantly, there will be games that aren’t any of those just mentioned. The games we’ll play will be dumb, fun, and sexualy suggestive cause, hey, this is partly a burlesque show after all!

 

What inspired you to combine boylesque with comedy?

The idea came to me maybe 10 years ago when a good friend called me up and asked if I knew someone who would strip for her best friend’s birthday party…but dressed as a Hasidic Jew. I thought this was hilarious so naturally I had to do it. We all ended up having a blast and I wondered how it was possible that there wasn’t a NYC company out there offering this service. Funny character stripteases that is. Fast forward 10 years later; I’ve quit my job and I’m putting together a prototype of that company to see if the idea has legs. Comic Strips (this Friday night @ 11:15pm, be there) is the beginning of my frankenstein monster. Will it break loose and wreak havoc on the streets of New York? I hope so!

 

But you know, like a positive havoc.

 

Who would be your ideal guest for Comic Strips?

Darth Vader hands down, because wouldn’t it be fun to take a ride on the Dark side?

 

What does it mean for you to have a Friday night spot at the Magnet Theater?

It means a lot of work! #JesusBeAXanax

 

No, I’m very excited to be able to do this show at the Magnet. It’s a great community to be a part of and what better place to do an experimental show than at my favorite comedy safe space and no, I am not getting paid to say that.

 

(‘ll-Iay ick-pay p-uay he-tay eck-chay omorrow-tay.)

 

Besides boylesque and improv, have you performed in other types of shows?

My educational background is theater so in college I performed in several types of shows from dance shows to musicals to plays. I’ve done a few summer stock seasons of musicals as well as a year of children’s theater in Lexington Kentucky before I moved to NYC. I’ve been in New York for 10 years now and have produced, directed, and acted in various projects both for the stage and screen. A couple of random voiceover gigs too which were a blast including a recent video game you can find on Steam called The Low Road.

 

And now for the biggest confession of all, I’ve never actually performed burlesque so (prepare yourself for another shameless plug) come this Friday at 11:15 pm to see if I succeed or fail. Either way, it should be entertaining!

 

What do you want audience members to take away from the show – that they wouldn’t normally from a traditional improv/ sketch show?

I guess Comic Strips is celebration of the human body and sexuality. But most importantly, I want it to be a shit ton of fun. Not too different from any other comedy show right?

 

Comic Strips debuts at the Magnet Theater on Friday September 15 at 11:15pm. Don’t miss it! 

 

 

Tuesday September 5, 2017, 2:53pm - by evan barden

This month’s Director Series, “The Setup,” comes to us from the brilliant mind of Eleanor Lewis. Eleanor is most often seen on stage with Megawatt team Sexy Baby, but for the month of September, she’s sitting in the director’s chair, working with a special cast on a show of her own creation. We’ve interviewed her to find out more about the show and where her compass is pointing!

Tell us about the concept of The Setup. How did you come up with this idea?

First of all, thanks for having me. This studio is very comfortable and expensive-looking!

The Setup is an improvised one-act play where the audience designs the set – so, basically a monoscene with a theatrical style. A few months ago I was thinking a lot about my favorite improv shows and realized that the ones that stuck with me were always the ones that were either so funny they were unforgettable, or ones where the actors took their scenes seriously and took the time to explore the subtleties of their characters and relationships. The ones I still think about all the time have both – it’s something that a lot of really good duos have because they’re so patient and trusting with each other. They can be so silly and dumb, and then in the next breath extremely human and touching.I started thinking of ways to set up a show that encouraged this kind of improv, and the idea of giving the actors a designed set, just like in a real play, was the one that was the most interesting to me. I thought it would give the performers the sense that they could take their time and explore their world without giving them an explicit directive to form a narrative, or forcing them into being artificially dramatic.

Then I just had to pick a cast of strong actors who are also – and I hope they’re cool with me saying this – incredible weirdos. People who can do complete nonsense with gravity and a straight face, and love doing it.

How does the audience get to design the set for the show?

I wrote a web app. It’s very buggy, but the audience can use the app on a tablet out in the lobby to design the set. We take the tablet into the theater, set the stage, and nobody has to go through the awkwardness of dragging chairs around while everyone watches them. Technology can be isolating, and sometimes that’s a good thing!

How is improvising with a set different than working without one?

There’s a sense that everything is intentional, which is basically a trick, but a good trick. It puts you in the mindset of being in a play where everything exists on purpose. But, you still have the spontaneity of improv where the cast can surprise each other and themselves. Also, improv scenes demand that you answer a lot of questions – who are we? What are we doing together? Answering the question “what does this space look like, physically?” is unusual as the very first thing that happens.

Your show is an improvised one act play. What plays inspire you as an improv director?

I’m actually extremely ignorant and poorly-read when it comes to scripted theater, so my references are kind of limited. I think 12 Angry Men is a great play for clear and believable character behavior because each juror has such a clear perspective. I think it’s also a strong lesson for improvisers because the show wouldn’t work unless the jurors let themselves be convinced one by one. Even juror #3, who is never actually convinced, eventually goes along with a not-guilty verdict because he gets so worn down and upset. From an improv perspective, he follows the logic of his character all the way to the end but ultimately accepts the offer given to him even though it hurts and feels like a loss.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (the musical!!!!!) is great because the characters are all super smart and capable, but get into extremely stupid and absurd situations anyway. The show is so good because nobody seems to know that what they’re doing is funny or that they’re in a comedy at all, so you have things like a guy singing “love is my legs/ and you are my love/ so you are my legs/ my love” from the bottom of his heart while a woman holds back tears.

These are two of the three shows I know well and the third one is irrelevant to improv.

If you could do improv on the set of any play you’ve ever seen, what would it be and why?

I’d love to improvise on the set of Hamilton because that means I get to be all smug right now and say I saw Hamilton. You guys, it’s good! Also the set of Clybourne Park because there are so many sub-spaces to explore within it (the garden, all the upstairs rooms, the main foyer, etc) and because the set itself had so much personality.

The Setup is playing every Thursday night in September at 10 pm, as a part of Thursday Night Out. Don’t miss it!

Wednesday August 9, 2017, 3:49am - by Promo Team

Lorena Russi is a comedian, actor, and creator of a brand new show at Magnet, Timoteo. Timoteo is a stand-up comedy show that consciously thinks about what our bodies/status bring to performances. Each show will have people from one identity sitting in the audience as comics from the counter community perform a set. It’s an incredibly interesting concept and so we wanted to ask Lorena a few questions before the show’s big premiere next week.

What inspired you to create the show Timoteo?
Timoteo is a show inspired by lack of versatile spaces for marginalized communities. It’s designed so that groups can come together without it being in the context of a bar or to hook up. I was also curious about combining opposites in order to highlight how status and bodies affect space and performance. Essentially, I wanted to design a situation where people of the same tribe can engage, to not only learn more about each other and themselves but witness it through a comedic lens.

What’s the origin of the name Timoteo?
Timoteo was the name of my grandmother’s pet bird in Colombia. Apparently, the bird acted like a dog and was a real treasure of the Russi household. One day someone brought a pig into the apartment -this was Colombia in the 80s, so pigs were the equivalent to a new born baby- and it swallowed the bird. SWALLOWED. THE. BIRD. The poster is a photo of my grandmother and Timoteo together, and I appreciate how their colors, physicality, and tone contrast entirely, but show how they love each other. Since the show is about opposites coming together, I wanted to reflect that in it’s photo/name…even thought I’m probably the only person who understands that.

Your show involves comics performing for audiences that are their opposites. How do you attract these specific audiences to your show?
Well at this point my strategy is just running around to all of the Queer bars, talking to homo ladies, and not bringing up how late on a Monday night the show is. BUT. In practice it’s been pretty incredible to see just through word of mouth alone how people have shown interest. There’s not many shows that make it so that only a certain group or community can attend, which I think has made it interesting for people when I tell them about it. Ultimately it’s meant to bring fun to the audience on another level than just the performance, so word of mouth and carrier pigeons are what are filling the seats.

Your show on August 14th features exclusively straight, cisgendered male comedians performing for a queer female-identifying audience. What inspired you to bring these two groups together in this way?
There’s obviously a bias for the first show because I am a Queer female identifying person, but I wanted to able to experience the show as an audience member, especially for the first one, in order to get a feel for how it is impacting the audience. I also wanted it to be as specific as possible in the two groups and boy howdy is it specific….I’m sorry for saying boy howdy.

What communities would you like to bring together for future versions of Timoteo?
I would love to have POC from NYC with white people from the midwest, Robots/Technology and humans, older adults/young people.

Check out the premiere of Timoteo on Monday, August 14th, at 10:30 pm when Straight, Cisgendered men will do stand-up for Queer, Female identifying people in the audience!

Friday June 30, 2017, 10:00am - by Magnet Theater

We talk with Magnet co-founder Ed Herbstman about working with producer Judd Apatow on “The Big Sick”

Magnet co-founder and actor, Ed Herbstman, plays Sam Highsmith in one of this summer’s most anticipated comedies, “The Big Sick,” starring Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Kurt Braunohler, and David Alan Grier. Directed by Michael Showalter, “The Big Sick” is produced by the legendary comedy writer/director/producer Judd Apatow. In this very special feature, we sit down with Ed for the inside scoop on working with Judd Apatow!

MAGNET: So, what was it like to work with comedy powerhouse Judd Apatow?

EH: I don’t know. I didn’t actually work with him. He was the producer.

M: As a producer, was Judd fun to work with?

EH: He wasn’t there. Michael Showalter directed it. He was great.

M: We’ve always heard that Judd is really a blast on set. Was that your experience?

EH: I’ve heard that too. But again, Judd Apatow wasn’t on set any of the days I worked. Kumail Nanjiani was there, and so was his wife and co-writer Emily V. Gordon. They were great. Funny, warm, playful – truly some of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with.

M: Yes! Of course. This is really Kumail and Emily’s project. And as a producer, Judd Apatow must have his fingerprints all over it.

EH: I can’t really speak to that. I can tell you that my favorite part was improvising with Kumail, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant and Kurt Braunohler. Showalter really let us play. I play Sam Highsmith, a stand-up comic who–

M: Is Judd Apatow a good dad?

EH: What?

M: Judd Apatow?

EH: That’s not a question.

M: Knocked Up.

EH: We done?

M: Bye!

Thanks so much to Ed Herbstman for sitting down with us to provide an inside look into what it’s like to work with big time Hollywood producer Judd Apatow. Go see “The Big Sick” in theaters now!

 

Friday June 1, 2012, 1:06pm - by admin
Play

susan and christina

In our continuing effort to share great ideas about improvisation, the Q & A series proudly posts this live conversation with Susan Messing and Christina Gausas.  Megan Gray was our host, and the audience at Magnet Theater provided the questions.  This is NSFW because Susan uses the F word a lot.  So put on your headphones.  Unless you’re alone.  Then crank it.

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Thursday April 26, 2012, 12:21pm - by admin

 

Dave Razowsky and Ed Herbstman answered questions from Alex Marino and the audience on January 29th at Magnet Theater, and somebody recorded it.  Wanna listen to it?  Well here it is.  Enjoy.

Oh, and if you’d like to see them perform together in the very clearly titled, ‘Razowsky and Herbstman’, you can do so on Saturday night, April 28th at 9pm, on the Magnet Mainstage.

Make a reservation here.

And if you’d like to train with these guys (along with Rachel Hamilton and Armando Diaz and others) while enjoying swimming, kayaking, and campfires, you can sign up for Camp Magnet 2012!