The Nut-Z-Professor, also known as Gene Eakes, will present a comedy routine during Saturday's finals for East Carolina Star Search, a fundraising show benefiting Eagle's Wings food pantry. Contributed Photo
The Nut-Z-Professor, also known as Gene Eakes, will present a comedy routine during Saturday's finals for East Carolina Star Search, a fundraising show benefiting Eagle's Wings food pantry.
Contributed Photo

Archived Story

Professor to present unique brand of comedy

Published 6:47pm Wednesday, June 4, 2014

 

Dr. Gene Eakes, professor emeritus at East Carolina University’s School of Nursing, has found a perfect blend of the worlds of academia and comedy.

Eake’s flair for comedy has landed her a spot in East Carolina Star Search, the finals of which will be presented Saturday on the stage of the historic Turnage Theater in downtown Washington.

The talent show benefits Eagle’s Wings food pantry. Tickets may be purchased in advance at Eagle’s Wings, Frank’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, Russell’s Men’s Wear, Backwater Jacks and the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce.

When Eakes retired from ECU she envisioned a life of leisure, but she soon found retirement didn’t agree with her. So she returned to the work force, this time as director of clinical education in the Center for Learning and Performance at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

But she also decided to explore her creative side, enrolling in a six-week stand-up comedy class offered by Pitt Community College in 2008.

“As part of completing that class, we had to develop a persona,” Eakes recalled. Thus, the Nut-Z-Professor was born.

Eakes said Mark, her husband of 47 years, pushed her into performing. She found she loved the stage, and she felt confident enough to take on roles in plays staged by the Pamlico Playhouse in Washington and the Magnolia Arts Center in Greenville.

Eakes, who makes her home in Chocowinity, said that as the Nut-Z-Professor she takes a humorous spin on everyday life.

“It’s about things that happen in life,” she said of her act. “It’s just me looking at what is going on around us and taking it to the extreme … it’s things that are passing right around us, slightly manipulated to make them humorous. Some have said I have a warped sense of humor!”

Eakes was chosen as one of 15 finalists during Star Search auditions held in April. She said she has enjoyed the experience thus far.

“I have been exposed to a variety of talented individuals,” she said of the competition. “There are people from different walks of life, of different ages, with an interest in something artistic.”

East Carolina Star Search is co-directed by Debbie Adams and Janet Cox. The talent showcase is presented by Eagle’s Wings and Le Moulin Rouge de Danse. Cash prizes for the top three finalists are donated by Lee Chevrolet and F. Ray Moore Propane. First place receives $1,000. Second and third prize winners will be awarded $500 and $250, respectively.

For more information, visit www.ecstarsearch.net.

 

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