Reitz has been working with the theater since its inception almost six years ago, when he was still an undergraduate student at UNC.
“Without even realizing it, I’ve spent the past six years training for this job,” Reitz said.
Pazderka, the theater’s artistic director and school manager, has been a part of the theater since moving to the area from Chicago roughly four years ago.
Pazderka said she’s more accustomed to the behind-the-scenes aspects of the theater, discussing school functioning, show preparation and the like.
“I’m not used to being more front and center and having such a public position,” Pazderka said.
Nonetheless, Pazderka said she is optimistic when approaching the challenge and is grateful to have Reitz working alongside her.
DSI looks to continue the community outreach they’ve been known for, said Laura Morrison, community liaison.
“The company members and the improvisers feel that theater is a home for them, and that will continue.” Morrison said. “A lot of people have stepped up and I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
Reitz said while the theater’s school existed prior to Pazderka’s arrival, it wasn’t nearly as refined as it has been. He attributes much of the curriculum’s success to Pazderka’s initiative.
“We’re a comedy theater but we’re also a training program,” Reitz said.
Shane Smith, a student since 2009 and finalist in DSI’s “Carolina’s Funniest Comic,” said he has enjoyed watching the theater progress around him.
“Zach (Ward) being at another theater isn’t detrimental,” Smith said. “Actually, it builds a stronger East Coast comedy community.”
Pazderka and Reitz said that though they intend to maintain staples like the free weekly Friday night show, “Mister Diplomat,” they will also look to add new components to the mix.
The theater has already instituted free weekly comedy shows every Tuesday night at Top of the Hill Restaurant, which they plan to continue into the academic year.
In addition, DSI is well on its way to preparing for both an improv marathon and a comedy marathon to take place later this year, the latter being a conjoined effort with the local YMCA.
“Running a comedy theater is something that no one can do alone,” Reitz said. “Thankfully, we don’t have to.”
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