Omaha native Pat Hazell stars in "The Wonder Bread Years"

When you think of American pop culture a certain list of things come to mind high school prom, Coca-Cola, that big block of Velveeta cheese, maybe even your crazy uncle trying to not only feed you SPAM, but convince you it tastes good! The list goes on and on of iconic items within our consumer society, but for many there is one that stands out among the rest…Wonder Bread. Rather, it’s driving down the highway smiling at the semi truck next to you or thinking about that sandwich your mom made you every day for lunch in elementary school with the crust cut off – Wonder Bread it is engrained in our every day American lifestyle.

Omaha native, Pat Hazell (who ShowTime named one of the five funniest people in America), is coming to the Omaha Community Playhouse with his rendition of The Wonder Bread Years! Pat says, “I can’t wait to be back in Nebraska speaking my native tongue,” as he shared a little insight on his memories and favorite things about the “corn state.”

How have your Omaha roots shaped your show?
I think being from Omaha has inspired to have more heart in my humor than you might see on the coasts. It is more nostalgic and playful because I take a positive approach. I like the quirkiness of the Midwest.

Are there any places you're looking forward to visiting while you're "home?"
I am always good for a Goodrich Malt, a Runza and some time in the Old Market. This trip I will take my kids to the Desert Dome, the College World Series and Mama's Pizza.

What was your favorite part about working with Susie and Carl?
A Few Good Men was directed by Carl Beck and he offered me the challenge of a great leading role written by Aaron Sorkin that required an actor rather than a comedian. It was a tremendous experience since I had always starred in things that I had written tailored to my voice and point of view. Carl also directed the Bunk Bed Brothers which he and Susie championed into the Playhouse and that jumpstarted my career as a playwright. Susie has always been an advocate for my work. In the world of creating original works you can not underestimate the value of Arts Angels that encourage you to keep going.

What's your best memory from living here?
I am not sure I could specify a single memory but weekend nights at the Golden Spike Drive-in, Dance Nights outdoors at Peony Park, summer swim days at Cryer Pool, taking in a new show at The Playhouse, street performing in the old market and junkets to Nebraska City for apples are all worth noting.

What's your favorite part of the show?
I really like doing the family slide show. It is warm, funny and proves that all the stories I am telling during the show are real. It authenticates the piece and allows the audience to see a reflection of their own family road trips and holidays, which makes them realize we have more in common than we have differences.

Out of all of your accomplishments, which one stands out to you the most and why?
In life, it is the birth of my sons. On TV, it was doing the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, which is like making the Olympic team for a comedian. Then being a writer of Seinfeld and then creating my own sitcom American Pie for NBC based on my original play Bunk Bed Brothers that had its early development at the Playhouse.

A few of his other writing credits include Seinfeld, American Pie, The New Adventures of Superman and Grounded For Life. With over 25 years of experience throughout the business, this is a show you’re not going to want to miss! In “A fast paced salute to the baby boomer generation,” we take an entertaining journey with Pat as he embarks down memory lane with tons of laughs along the way! His one-man show walks the line of stand-up comedy, reminding us all to stop and enjoy the little things. Laugh until you cry, and then laugh some more with us here at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

The Wonder Bread Years runs June 13-29, Wednesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, call (402) 553-0800, or visit the Box Office located in the southeast corner of the Omaha Community Playhouse at 6915 Cass St. or click here.

Story by Kelsey Nutt

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