Local Comedy Star Hired to Bring New Leadership to New England Comedy Theater as it moves into its 30th Anniversary.
For the nearly 12 years, Chapel Hill native Zach Ward has used his business and comedy acumen to turn the region into a national comedy destination. From the creation of the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival which will turn 12 this February to the formation of DSI Comedy Theater, which celebrates six years this Fall, Ward has worked tirelessly to build the festival and the theater into a comedy powerhouse with a strong community presence. Both the festival and theater have grown under Ward’s leadership and have thrived throughout the uncertainty of the current economic climate.
Effective June 13, Ward will be moving north to become the Managing Director of ImprovBoston, a renowned 30-year old non-profit comedy theater. For years, Ward has been traveling to Boston to teach and, since 2009, has mentored the theatre’s staff. When the position opened at ImprovBoston, the theatre sought someone who would solidify its reputation as the place to see and learn comedy in the Boston area, someone who could capitalize on the company’s artistic success, and someone to help elevate the company’s reputation nationally and broaden the reach of their Corporate Services.
“Zach Ward is funny, in a ha-ha way, but he’s also serious, in a ‘built DSI Comedy Theater and one of the best comedy festivals in the country’ way,” said ImprovBoston Board President Greg Wymer. “Zach has the rare combination of being a community builder, businessman, improv teacher and performer. We look forward to Zach’s leadership as he joins our Artistic Director to help take ImprovBoston to the next level in the Boston and national comedy scenes as we celebrate our 30th year and beyond.”
“I see raw untapped opportunity in the company at ImprovBoston and potential for growth at the theater,” said Ward. “I absolutely love the community there. When the job opened up, and I was asked to submit a resume, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m certainly looking forward to leading an organization like ImprovBoston during an incredible transition, bringing my experience at the helm of a for-profit comedy business and my extreme sense of entrepreneurship to the job managing a non-profit.”
Ward is working to find a replacement to handle the day to day operations of DSI Comedy Theater. He will maintain ownership and his role as Executive Producer of the theater, but he is currently interviewing people to run the company artistically and fiscally. He will still run the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, mentor a festival jury to select and schedule the upcoming festival’s acts, and working with Carolina Theatre to produce NCCAF shows featuring Mike Birbiglia and Second City. As Ward prepares to come in and strengthen ImprovBoston, audiences in North Carolina can expect the same quality shows and performances that they have come to expect from DSI Comedy Theater.
Finished Ward, “There are a lot of things I will miss about Chapel Hill and Carrboro. I’ve formed some really powerful relationships with leaders in the Triangle over the last 10 years and it’s been inspiring to see how a small black box comedy theater like DSI can grow so much in such a small market and give back to the community in so many ways. DSI Comedy Theater was a dream since before I graduated college. The theater survived an incredible recession, and, in fact, grew. On a personal note, I will miss performing in MISTER DIPLOMAT every Friday night. I’ll miss locally roasted fair trade coffee and incredible local beer. I’ll miss my incredibly talented company of performers at DSI, people who have become my second family.”
ImprovBoston is excited about their new leader. Added ImprovBoston’s Associate Managing Director, Deana Tolliver, “Improvisation is driven by the concept of ‘Yes, and.’ In a scene you start with something strong and you know your partner will agree to add to it and take it somewhere you never expected. Zach is coming to ImprovBoston, a respected comedy theater with a 30 year history of artistic excellence and we have no doubt that his combination of business success and brilliance as an improviser will be the most amazing display of ‘Yes, and’ the national comedy scene has witnessed in a long time.”
Since 1982, ImprovBoston has entertained audiences in New England and around the country with a fresh, funny approach to improv comedy, showcasing today’s best performers and training tomorrow’s stars. With a full calendar of the funniest shows in Boston and nationally-known education and corporate training programs, ImprovBoston is more than just a great comedy club—it’s a recognized center for the evolving art of improvisation. ImprovBoston is a registered 501(c)(3).
About North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival and DSI Comedy Theater
For the last 12 years DSI Comedy Theater has produced and presented one of the largest comedy festivals on the East Coast, the annual North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. Each year, the festival welcomes improv, stand-up and sketch comedians to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. The festival features workshops and performances from talent that has been seen on the small screen on Saturday Night Live, MTV, Late Show with David Letterman, Comedy Central, and on stages at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and Second City. As the festival grew, DSI found itself a home and in 2005, opened the DSI Comedy Theater, an 84-seat venue in North Carolina, and the company’s new home for shows and the DSI Training Center. The festival and theatre have attracted high level instructors in improvisation and stand-up comedy including: Eddie Brill, Asaf Ronen, Jeff Griggs, Eric Hunicutt, Kevin Patrick Robbins, Anthony King and Jill Bernard. From the DSI Comedy Training Center and Theater in Carrboro, NC to its productions in Chicago, and professional Touring Company, the DSI name has spread around the country, drawing both participants and quality teaching staff to its theater and to the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival year after year.