Posts Tagged ‘q&a’

Tuesday November 28, 2017, 2:52pm - by Magnet Theater

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!

Wednesday November 22, 2017, 1:57pm - by Magnet Theater

Thanksgiving is upon us, which means food, family, and longform improv. This Sunday at 6 pm, gather around the imaginary dinner table with indie teams FAM and CHUCHO for The Feast. We talk to FAM member Michael Stevens about the show.

How long have you been part of the Magnet Theater community?

About 2 years. It’ll be 3 in May 2018.

How is The Feast different from a typical Magnet improv show?

I’m sure it’s been done before but the most fun thing for me about the show is that it’s essentially a very focused jam between two teams with distinct but complementary styles coming together to do something they don’t do. Chucho and FAM are both Spokane focused indie teams, so I thought it would be funny for us to do a big ole monoscene.

I hope I don’t sound like my head is up me ass, but if Chucho is David Bowie, and FAM is Freddie Mercury, this show is our “Under Pressure.”

What inspired you to create The Feast?

I had the idea for a “family reunion” themed show last year because my favorite scenes tended to be family group scenes. Then I saw the play The Humans and that idea sort of rattled in my brain for a while.

Then Fam & Chucho ended up at a lot of the same shows and we all sort of did some form of improv together in classes and one off shows so I basically pitched the idea to Melissa [Chucho], then Megan [Magnet AD].

The form itself is a Monoscene, so it’s nothing structurally groundbreaking. But I think everyone in the cast is a really strong actor, so I wanted to see what we could do with some of the “math” done.

What food, in your opinion, is the funniest?

Spaghetti or syrup sandwiches.

Do you have a go-to meal or food that your normally eat before performing?

Haymaker fries!

Sit down for The Feast this Sunday, Nov 26th, at 6:00 pm!

Wednesday November 15, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Our community is filled with people who have an insane amount of comedic talent, but maybe they’re also good at other things? Have you considered that? Long-time Musical Megawatt performer Olivia Petzy sure has! That’s why she’s putting together THE BIG TALENT SHOW! this Friday, 11/17, at 11:30 pm. It’s going to showcase our performers’ other talents and well, let’s just have Olivia tell you about it herself…

What is your experience with talent shows in the past?

I have never been in a talent show, but I love the idea of people wanting to show off their special skills and gifts — something about that is so sweet and wonderful to me! I attended the Miss Pennsylvania pageant almost 15 years ago and I swear to you that I think about it once a week. It was so incredibly bizarre but the participants took it SO SERIOUSLY and I loved it.

I feel like most performers have special skills we always hope we’ll get to use but don’t, so I wanted to put on a talent show to give everyone a chance to show off. I also wanted to give people who aren’t on teams a chance to perform on the Magnet stage.

Will this show feature strictly Magnet Theater members or will outsiders be involved as well?

This edition features all Magnet community members!

What are some non-comedic talents can we expect to see at the show?

I don’t want to give anything away but audience members can expect to be blown away by people’s hidden skills and talents! We’ll see people dancing like no one is watching, singing like they’re in the shower, playing instruments like they’re in fifth grade band and more!

What does your role consist of as the host of the talent show?

As the host, I am the mama bear to all our talented people, helping everyone feel loved and safe to shine bright like a diamond. I’ll announce everyone, help the audience get to know every performer, facilitate the judging of the “winner” and dazzle with a talent of my own.

Catch THE BIG TALENT SHOW! this Friday, Nov 17th, at 11:30 pm!

Tuesday November 14, 2017, 1:57pm - by Magnet Theater

You may know Molly Kiernan from seeing her perform at Megawatt with Scout or with Chillionaire on Magnet Sketch Teams, plus, she’s directing the upcoming show This Is Serious! (A Comedy Show). In addition to all of that, Molly is the creator, host, and namesake of Molly’s Guilt Free Comedy and Ice Cream Social, a comedy variety show happening this Friday, 11/17, at 6:30 pm. It’s going to be hilarious, heartwarming, and for a good cause. Find out more about it right now!

Tell us about your show!

I began producing this show a year ago, in part as a way to celebrate my own recovery from an eating disorder. Discovering comedy and the Magnet was such a huge part of my healing process, so it felt fitting that everything would come together in a Magnet show. The show has evolved as sort of an opportunity for everyone there, audience-members and performers alike, to take time out to celebrate themselves and each other. I hope people will see it as one hour where they put aside whatever they may be beating themselves up over that day.

This is a high-energy and very silly variety show, where top NYC comedians will perform characters, improv, dance and more. The performers include some of my all-time favorites: Anna Neu, Lee Hubilla, Mia Bloomfield, Amanda Melhuish, Jesse Roth, Natasha Vaynblat, Brian Urreta, Lou Gonzalez and Eleanor Lewis.

Before the show, there will be a free ice cream bar in the lobby, with ice cream donations from The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory and Ample Hills Creamery.

In the past the shows benefits have gone to Project Heal – what is the new charity that you will be donating the proceeds to?

This show, half of the ticket proceeds will be donated to Everytown for Gun Safety.

What message(s) do you want audience members to take with them after the show?

We all deserve to take care of ourselves, laugh a lot and eat dessert!

How does this show differ from a traditional improv show?

This show will have some improv and some scripted performances, including characters and song.

What would be the next best food after ice cream, in your opinion, to serve at the event?

Can my answer be more ice cream?

Come see Molly’s Guilt Free Comedy and Ice Cream Social this Friday, Nov 17th, at 6:30 pm!

Wednesday November 8, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Don’t you DARE call for a car home just yet because you *have* to stick around for One More Drink. This Friday, your best friends Megan Meadows and Hannah Wright are hosting a variety show that, for real, you can’t afford to miss. We chat with the show’s hosts about what’s in store, what they like to drink, and other hot goss. You’ll have to join them this Friday, 11/10, at 11:30 pm for the full scoop though.

Can you tell us a little bit about your show?

H: Our show is like a topical variety show meets a fun Friday night party! We are basically just being our ridiculous selves, discuss recent events in the ALWAYS HILARIOUS/TERRIBLE NEWZ, and highlight a bunch of different kinds of talent (drag queens, “experts”, etc.) It’s a good time!

M: You know how you go to like the best party of the year and nobody ever stops talking about that party because the hosts are so beautiful and the hosts are so hilarious and and the hosts are actually Princesses disguised as paupers? That’s our show. With a bean dip.

H: We might not have a dip this time though because Megan proved she could not handle the responsibility and lost it last time.

Both of you have experience with sketch comedy — how does that compare to putting on a variety show like One More Drink?

H: It’s totally different! When I was on sketch teams at the Magnet, I got really comfortable writing and performing a certain way, and always playing a different character. With this show, I’m basically just being myself and trusting my OWN comedic voice. It’s scarier but more rewarding!

M: We get to be drunker. And heckle the audience. ( I went to school for PR, so I know how to sell a show.)

What are some new things you’re hoping to bring to your upcoming show compared to the previous One More Drink show?

H: We have a bunch of different performers in this show, an amazing drag queen who will be performing, and a bunch of new REASONS TO PARTY. Last show we thought we were all gonna die because of climate change, and now we realize we will all die from nuclear war long before that!

M: Wait. Do you think we need to bring something different? Did you see the interpretive dance we did to Ke$ha last time? Bc… it was honestly pretty great. Should we get a blow out this time? Will the Magnet pay for it? Does Quinton do hair?

H: I’m honestly considering wearing that same jumpsuit though do you think that people will judge me???????? Chrissie Gruebel said I should wear it every time. She like, is good at fashion I feel like.

M: Yes. And. Do it. – IMPROV. I can’t wear my outfit again bc you can see my cucu. Haha and I wanna be able to DANCE THE SHIT OUTTA THIS. Ok, I’ll wear my jumpsuit too. You’ve talked me into it.

H: To answer your question, YES, we will be wearing jumpsuits.

What sorts of drinking games will you be playing during the show?

H: We play a game called “I’m Sorry What???” where we play clips from something like the Bachelor, and drink every time the awkwardness of it makes us say, obviously, “I’m sorry, what?!”

M: I dunno, we just copy what Andy Cohen does and pretend we made it up. Or, just watch the news and cry. That’s our fav drinking game.

H: Also Ru Paul.

How do you think alcohol affects each of your performing abilities?

H: Wait. Who told you to ask this? Are you judging us? We literally only have pinot grigio every time Trump says or does something horrifying. Or, if we have a date. But like, we never do.

M: Full disclosure: once Hannah had a dream she was drinking wine at 8:30am at work though. WE ARE FINE!!!

H: Mego I told you that in confidence. Honestly though, I could have a bloody mary right now.

What is your drink of choice – while performing?

H: WE’RE FINE!!!!!!!! (vodka)

M: Sorry, what was the question? Yes, George, another mimosa please.

 

You gotta see One More Drink this Friday, 11/10, at 11:30 PM – I mean, ya gotta!

Tuesday November 7, 2017, 2:37pm - by Magnet Theater

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…

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!

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