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Zero carb comedy

by Lenise Willis

Want to enjoy all the cheesy goodness of a deep dish, but without the guilt of carbs? Well coming soon to Hanesbrands Theatre is a comedy group that promises just that.

Deep Dish Pizzazz! is a three-act comedy show that consists of two sketch comedy acts and a third act of improvisation. Act one is performed by the Tim & Micah Project, aka the critically acclaimed Chicago duo comprised of comedians Tim Soszko and Micah Philbrook. The Chicago-based avant-garde sketch duo portrays the characters of Tim and Micah, two pretentious comedians donning turtlenecks.

Act two features This is the Worst, a solo show by sketch comedian and former Winston-Salem resident Sarah Barnhardt. Barnhardt uses physical comedy and a variety of characters to poke fun of life’s frustrations, from chores to body ailments.

Locals may recognize Barnhardt for her role as the on field entertainment host for the Winston Salem Dash from 2010- 2012, as well as for her role as June Sanders in Twin City Stage’s Smoke On The Mountain trilogy. A graduate of the Second City Training Center’s Writing Program, Conservatory and Music Program, Barnhardt studied at The Annoyance and The Playground and has performed at the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, Chicago Women’s Funny Festival and NC Comedy Arts Festival.

Barnhardt is particularly excited about Deep Dish Pizzazz! so that she can bring her work to her North Carolina friends. “I wrote and performed This is The Worst in Chicago last summer,” she said. “I have so many friends and family members in North Carolina who were not able to come see it, so I decided to bring it to them. I love the Tim & Micah Project, so I asked them to join me.” She’s always wanted to perform at Hanesbrands Theatre, which is why she chose it to host the show.

Barnhardt’s career on stage grew from her involvement in musical theatre and her love of performing comedic roles “I love to make people laugh,” Barnhardt said. “Junior year of college, I was introduced to Ellen DeGeneres’s stand-up comedy. It inspired me to do a semester-long independent study on the psychology of humor. As my final project, I wrote and performed a 35-minute one-woman stand-up comedy show. This new style, for me, furthered my love for comedic performing.”

Barnhardt then continued to do stand-up comedy and began emceeing and improvising. She moved to Chicago in 2013 where she met Soszko and Philbrook, who taught her at the Second City Training Center. Soszko even directed her solo show.

“Our sketch styles are very different, but we play off of each other well when we improvise, which we’ll do after we perform our sketch shows,” Barnhardt said. “It’s going to be so much fun.”

As for what the audience can expect from the show, Barnhardt said obviously there will be a lot of laughing. But she also points out the theatrical side of comedy shows, which makes it a good fit for the theatre.

“Sketch comedy is more of a theatrical experience,” she said. “There are scenes, the performers play characters throughout, there are sound and light cues and props. Deep Dish Pizzazz! is unique because it’s three performances in one. We’re packing a lot of funny into one show!” “‘Laughter is the best medicine is such a cliché, but it’s one for a reason,” Barnhardt said about why she loves what she does. “It makes you feel good. I love to make people laugh. Always have. While comedy is fun for me, I also take it very seriously. I work really hard to make sure what I put in front of an audience is funny and polished. Part of me keeps hoping I’ll grow weary of it, but I keep loving it more. I honestly feel like it’s something I am meant to pursue.”

Barnhardt said she once took a quiz to find out what her spirit animal was, and it turns out she’s a baboon, which “finds true happiness when performing as comedians or actors.” It looks like the quiz was dead on. !

WANNA go?

Deep Dish Pizzazz! will have two performances on Saturday, April 2, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Hanesbrands Theatre, 209 N. Spruce St., Winston Salem. Run time is 2.5 hours with two intermissions. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for students. Show is rated PG 13. For tickets and more information visit rhodesartcenter.org.

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