Deep Dish Comedy turns dancing on its head
Everyone likes showing off. A mere glance at social media and it’s clear that people love coming off as prettier, smarter and simply better than their peers. Don’t worry; it’s not shameful. It’s natural. It’s also hard work. So, if you want to appear elevated and brag about going to see a dance performance, but don’t actually want to attend a mature, thought-provoking production, then The Comedy Dance Collective is for you.
Back again is our very own Sarah Barnhardt with her show Deep Dish Pizzazz: Chicago Style Comedy, featuring The Comedy Dance Collective with an opening act by Winston-Salem’s Bunker Dog Improv. The Comedy Dance Collective is made up of former, and “almost dancers” who celebrate movement-based comedy with innovation, creativity and just plain goofiness. Members include Sarah Barnhardt, Jean Bonavita, Holly Gombita, Justin Kimball, Teresa Leahey, Zachary Madison and Michael Silver.
Barnhardt, a former Winston-Salem resident and host for the Winston-Salem Dash (2010-2012), performed her first Deep Dish Pizzazz! at the Hanesbrands Center last year. It featured her solo show “This Is The Worst” and performances by the Tim & Micah Project.
Barnhardt says that this year’s show is completely different.
“Deep Dish Pizzazz plans to feature a different Chicago comedy show with each production,” she says. “This year, DDP is featuring The Comedy Dance Collective. We’re a mix of dancers who like comedy and comedians who like to dance.”
Put simply, Barnhardt explains that “dance comedy,” is just, “dancing, with the intention being to make the audience laugh.” And that’s exactly what they plan to do. “The audience should expect their face to hurt from smiling,” she added.
The group was created after a performance in a sketch comedy show where Barnhardt and fellow comedian Jean Bonavita tucked their arms in their shirt sleeves and began pretending to be T-Rexes dancing to Dirty Dancing’s “Time Of My Life.” The bit was such a hit that they decided to form an entire comedy group that honed physical comedy. The group debuted at the 2016 Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival and has received rave reviews from its community and inner circle. According to Barnhardt, one audience member exclaimed, “I don’t like dance, but I loved that” after seeing their show twice.
Barnhardt, a graduate of the Second City Training Center’s Writing Program, Conservatory and Music Program, 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.
Her career in comedy began with her love of musical theatre and being cast in comedic roles. After falling in love with Ellen DeGeneres’ stand-up comedy her junior year in college, she was inspired do a semester-long independent study on the psychology of humor. As her final project, she wrote and performed a 35-minute one-woman stand-up comedy show.
She enjoyed it so much that she continued to do stand-up comedy and eventually began emceeing events and improvising. It was when she moved to Chicago in 2013 that she officially began studying comedy at the Second City Training Center.
“I love to make people laugh,” Barnhardt said.
Locals may recognize Barnhardt for her role as June Sanders in Twin City Stage’s Smoke On The Mountain trilogy.
Wanna go? Deep Dish Pizzazz: Chicago Style Comedy performs at Hanesbrands Theatre, 209 N. Spruce St., Winston-Salem, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Show runs about 1.5 hours with no intermission. For tickets and more information visit rhodesartscenter.org or call 336.747.1414.