Posts Tagged ‘theatre’

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 June 14, 2017, 6:30am - by Magnet Theater
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Musical improv maestro, ALI REED, joins host Louis Kornfeld on another episode of the Magnet Theater Podcast. The conversation hits a variety of topics including living in Kentucky, comparing sports to performing improv, and the pleasures of working with musical director Frank Spitznagel. We find out how Ali is able to balance her schedule as one of the busiest people in musical improv and learn about her ambitious plans for the future of the artform! Huzzah!

Catching us up on her life, Ali tells us that she has had a packed schedule for the past nine months and Louis refers to her as the busiest person in musical improv. They discuss momentum and how it can be helpful to have a full schedule.

In the beginning of the episode, Louis asks Ali about growing up in Kentucky. Doing her civic duty, Ali defines what bourbon is – explaining that if it’s not from Kentucky, it’s not bourbon – and we learn about the importance of Louisville basketball and how it was difficult for Ali to be a fan of their rival, University of Kentucky, while she was surrounded by Cardinal fans throughout college.

On the topic of sports, Ali compares being an athlete to being a performer and Louis imagines that playing sports would be similar to performing improv. Ali agrees but thinks that the subjectivity of performing makes it such that she’s harder on herself – adding that it’s easier when there is a win or a loss.

Ali and Louis take a trip down memory lane to talk about how Ali came to be the hardest working woman in musical improv. On the suggestion from an ex-boyfriend, who had had been taking UCB classes in LA, Ali went online to see if any classes were available. She saw that an improv 101 class has just started registering that night and signed up immediately. She and Louis discuss the solidarity of improv classes and Ali says that she is still friends with everyone from her improv 101 class!

Eventually, Ali found her way to musical improv. A friend of hers said that he was going to do a musical improv class at Magnet to which she replied, “Oh, hell yeah.” Since then, she has been bitten by the “Magnet bug.” Sharing her love with us, Ali teaches Louis about different strategies in musical improv. Louis compares it to regular improv and Ali discusses how performing musical improv is similar to putting on that album that you like while you’re in a certain mood – but it’s much more intense.

They talk about Magnet musical director Frank Spitznagel and his incredible knowledge of music, always able to seamlessly integrate various types of musical elements brought up by suggestions of a genre, television shows, specific musicals, etc. Ali talks about how lucky she feels to have had Frank as a teacher and to share the stage with him.

They explore the bravery that goes into musical improv and how Ali often forgets that it IS brave. She is reminded by it when people come up and tell her “Oh, I could never do that.”  They also talk about the benefits of being located in New York, in comparison to LA or Chicago, because of all of the Broadway folks who are willing to coming sing and perform in musical improv.

Diving further into the artform, Ali wants there to be a more authentic, truthful place for musical improv – instead of just songs about butts (which she also loves). When she teaches, she finds that taking the mundane scenes and heightening them can become the funniest and most touching songs. Louis concurs and mentions a musical improv show he saw that capitalized on those tiny “slice of life” scenes and ended up enhancing the characters’ emotions.

As the episode comes to an end, we learn about Ali’s dream for the future of musical improv. She lets us in on her ambitious plans – stating that she will build her own musical improv empire in New York City.

Wednesday January 18, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater
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Warm-blooded baby of sex, WILL JACOBS, drops by to talk about his foray into playwrighting, being malleable on stage, and how to provide balance on a team.  A comedy quadruple-threat, Will can be seen performing on Magnet shows like Musical Megawatt, Megawatt, and The Friday Night Sh*ow; in schools all over the city with the Story Pirates; on the internet with Cake I.D.; and oh yeah, he’s also a playwright. There’s a lot packed into this one, so let’s just dive in!

Will begins the episode talking with Louis about Telegraph, a play he wrote while attending the Washington University in St. Louis. He discusses the undertaking of staging something so daunting as a first-time playwright. Louis and Will talk about college and Will describes what it’s been like to find permission to indulge in his interests. Find out where Will’s ideas come from and if their origin is different when improvising versus writing! He and Louis discuss the hurdle of playing with people who really impress you and the challenge of being malleable not only while acting but in life.

Will relays some great advice for how to behave when you’re being judgemental of a scene! They discuss “wherewithal” as it relates to improv and wonder if it is the opposite of being in your head? Louis points out one of Will’s greatest abilities and diving into the technique, Will offers tips on how to point out an unusual thing in a way that matters and can sustain scenes. They both agree on an improv rule: Don’t be Ironic Comment Guy! Finally, these two gentlemen talk about providing balance to a team and why Spock was so great on Star Trek. Finally, we hear about how Will went from, “I could never do that” when watching improv to performing it almost every night of the week!

Tuesday January 3, 2017, 11:57am - by Magnet Theater

10-minute-play-fest-web-2

MAGNET THEATER’S VERY OWN 10-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL

If “write more” was your New Year’s Resolution — you’re in luck! We are looking for five original comedic plays to produce for our 10-Minute Play Festival, and submissions are now OPEN! Instructions and submission guidelines below.

Are you a sketch writer looking to try something new? A playwright looking for more exposure? A random internet user who stumbled across this page? Anyone and everyone is encouraged to submit. Please send us your best 10-minute play (seriously, no more than 10 minutes) and stay tuned for auditions at the end of February, as well as Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival on March 19th and 26th!

 

HOW TO SUBMIT

  • Please include the following information in the body of the email (and keep answers short!): Name; What comedy theater you are associated with (if any); Whether you have an sketch or playwriting experience (it’s fine if the answer is no!); Why you wanted to be a part of Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival.

  • Attach your play to the email as a PDF. This is important. We won’t read any other format.

 

Submission Guidelines/FAQs

  • Only one submission per person. Send us your best work!

  • The plays really do need to be under 10 minutes. That means no more than 11 pages, not including the cover page. We will not read past the 11th page.

  • We are looking for NEW plays! Please don’t send anything that has already been produced.

  • All submissions must be in by February 19th, 10:00 pm EST. Submissions will not be accepted or considered after this time.

  • Notifications of selection will go out a few days after submissions close.

  • All authors agree to permit the Magnet Theater to produce their submitted play if the theater should wish to do so. Authors retain copyright and full ownership of their plays.

  • Diversity applicants strongly encouraged to submit!

 

Don’t know what 10-Minute Play Festival is? Check out our last blog post for more info.

Wednesday November 9, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

sisters-three-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

The creative team behind SISTERS THREE joins us to talk about their incredible show. Starring Magnet all-stars Elana Fishbein and Elena Skopetos, directed by the one and only Peter McNerney, and written by all three of them, Sisters Three is a fast-paced, hilarious play that is running at the Magnet this fall and early next year. It’s Louis’ favorite show he’s ever seen at the Magnet and it’s also a New York Times Critics Pick. Your next chances to see it are Friday November 11th and 18th but you get to hear all about the show right here first.

They get started with attempting to describe Sisters Three and Louis claims that it’s the perfect marriage of improv and theater. The creators dive into the process of building, writing, and staging the show through improvisation and workshopping pieces of it. They say it took at least six months of work to even have an idea of what the show would look like!  It’s an incredibly interesting and wonderful process. They discuss embracing subtlety and avoiding the temptation to spell it all out for the audience. They talk about characters left on the cutting room floor and some of the jokes that didn’t make it in. Louis floods the episode with compliments and they’re all warranted. He also asks, “What’s the next step?” They talk about promoting and producing the play and where else they might be able to take it. Also, they give a nice hat tip to Locke & Key, a graphic novel series which has inspired them all. PLUS – They ALL do a Serious Scene Opposite A Jar of Pickles. (And no, it wasn’t Evan’s idea!) Huzzah!

Wednesday December 30, 2015, 9:27am - by Magnet Theater
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Chrissie Gruebel Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

We couldn’t get enough of CHRISSIE GRUEBEL on stage, so we had her on the podcast to talk about improv, acting, & everything else. A darling of Megawatt’s Metal Boy, Friday Night Sh*w, and Magnet Sketch Teams, Chrissie sits down with Louis and regales him with tales from Philadelphia, New York, and the theater capitol of North America, Scranton. Chrissie is one of our favs and we just know you’re gonna love this episode. May she live forever online!

To begin this episode, Louis claims he knows nothing about Chrissie and Chrissie claims she doesn’t have a Long Island accent. You’ll have to tune in to find out that both of these are lies! more

Wednesday February 18, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Brandon Gardner Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

On this episode of the podcast, we welcome UCBT performer, instructor, and improv nerd Brandon Gardner into the studio to talk about college improv, his class focused on creating improvised plays, and various elements of compelling improv. Our host, Louis Kornfeld, begins the hour getting into Brandon’s vast experiences working with college improv teams and bookends the 60ish minutes by taking it all back to those formative years. In the meantime, Brandon describes why he became interested in bringing elements of theater to the improv stage and how he challenges actors to improvise and improvisers to act. For all our fellow improv nerds out there, you’ll love as Louis and Brandon parse through topics such as displaying emotion versus emoting authentically; playing to the top of your intelligence versus playing to the top of your integrity; story versus plot; and dramatic comedy versus comedic drama. These two veteran teachers trade exercises and generally advise on what is essential to playing satisfying improv scenes. Check it out!

Subscribe to the Magnet Theater Podcast via iTunes here.

Enjoy Episode #32 on iTunes or below via SoundCloud.