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The Wonderbread Guy Comes To Campus

Observer Scene | Thursday, September 18, 2008

He’s one of Showtime’s five funniest people. He’s appeared on “Seinfeld” and is a veteran on Jay Leno. Thursday, he comes to campus with a bag of tricks so big you won’t be able to help laughing.

Pat Hazell is the go-to guy for today’s corporate comedy, as in, he will appear at your business awards show or convention and, given one night, turn it upside down. He has spent 25 years in the business writing, producing and performing. He hosts, emcee’s and speaks at events all over the country. His latest endeavor, a stage show entitled “The Wonderbread Years,” was awarded Jerry Seinfeld’s funny seal of approval.  

Pat Hazell’s self title is that of Boomer Humorist (with jokes that appeal to everyone from baby boomers to our crowd) and Pop Culture Anthropologist. He taps into Americana humor and is always well-received for his take on American life that is not so much crude and dirty (as is the majority of stand up humor today), but rather funny for its verisimilitude. He puts a lens on life and manages to spin it into comedy without depraving or exaggerating it. He manages to make people really look at themselves, their culture and the idiosyncrasies that contribute to their lifestyle, and that manages to be the one of the funniest things of all.

He’s not just a comedian, but also an entertainer. Hazell can stand in front of a crowd in any situation and spin your perspective so that suddenly you’re seeing it his way.

Born in Omaha, Neb., Hazell was a high school drama geek and attended the University of Nebraska in his hometown, where he majored in dramatic arts. After college he moved to Los Angeles and attempted to pursue a career as a magician. The jury is still out on whether his tricks were any good, but fellow comedians encouraged him to pursue stand-up and he got himself a gig opening for Mr. Seinfeld himself. He appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1989 and has since then appeared on it with Jay Leno six times.

Hazell wrote a comedic play about two brothers growing up called “Bunk Bed Brothers.” It ran in Los Angeles and was optioned by Columbia Pictures, which turned it into a sitcom.

“The Wonderbread Years” is his latest work, and he’s been taking it all over the country. The show presents a down-to-earth look at the American life we all know and love and has been playing to packed houses and garnering glowing reviews. It is a salute to baby boomers, but manages to appeal to all ages. Much of the humor crosses generations, and we can all laugh about dealing with trick-or-treaters on Halloween. “The Wonderbread Years” lies somewhere between theatre and stand-up, with a sparse set and just enough props to hint at all the places we’ve ever been. Hazell not only looks at our lives and lifestyle, but also manages to relay a sense of wonder about ourselves that we have, over the years, lost.

Contact Stephanie DePrez at sdeprez@nd.edu.