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Wednesday December 7th

DSI Comedy leader going to Boston

Artist salon in Carrboro The ArtsCenterZach Ward, DSI feature
Buy Photos Artist salon in Carrboro The ArtsCenterZach Ward, DSI feature

The man who has become the face of comedy in Chapel Hill and Carrboro is moving up in more ways than one.

Zach Ward, executive producer and owner of DSI Comedy Theater, is heading north to become the new managing director of ImprovBoston. Ward will enter the role on June 13.

Ward helped found the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival more than 10 years ago, and opened the comedy theater almost six years ago.

As a result of his high level of commitment and involvement in comedy, Ward has spent a large amount of time traveling to other theaters to teach, mentor and perform.

“There are people that would come to North Carolina and see me and were like, ‘Oh, it’s good to see you. I actually see you more in my hometown,’” Ward said. “It was strange for them to see me here at my theater when they had seen me so often at theirs.”

The previous managing director of ImprovBoston stepped down in December 2010. The club began searching for someone to fill the position in January when members of the non-profit organization asked Ward to submit a resume.

“What we were looking for was someone who is not only passionate about what we do, but also gets what we do,” said Deana Tolliver, associate managing director of ImprovBoston. “There is a difference between loving it and understanding it.”

Ward said he was initially uncertain about leaving the theater he had built.

“I was in Chicago and moved home to Carrboro to open this theater,” said Ward. “I didn’t imagine that I would not run this theater.”

But, after weighing the pros and cons, Ward quickly came to welcome the prospect of a new challenge, he said.

Though ImprovBoston has garnered a great deal of success and built a strong reputation for itself, Ward and Tolliver agreed that the comedy club needed someone to help them take the next step.

“The pace of growth for the DSI Comedy Theater in Carrboro was just exponentially faster than what they’ve done in 30 years in Boston,” Ward said.

Harrison Brookie, an instructor and performer at the DSI Comedy Theater, said Ward’s promotion speaks volumes about the comedy scene in Carrboro.

“The person who now runs the theater in Carrboro is going to run the theater in Boston,” he said. “I think that says a lot about the theater in Carrboro.”

As owner of DSI, Ward will continue his involvement with the comedy theater, but in a much more reduced capacity. His departure is an opportunity for others to step up, he said.

“The reason that I feel so positive about the move is because of the quality of the people that are here at DSI,” Ward said.

Ward said he is confident that the new leadership will offer the theater a fresh outlook moving forward.

Brookie also said he is optimistic about the comedy theater’s future.

“There may be someone different pulling the levers, but the show will still be the same.”

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