Tonight at 7:30, stand-up comedian Ellen Karis will host a fundraiser to benefit St. John School in the North End at the Middletown Elks Club as part of Comedy Night, which features comedians Tommy Koenig and Eric Roberts.
“I love performing for church benefits like this,” Karis said in a telephone interview with Middletown Patch. “The people who come out to this are not the usual club-goers you see during a regular stand-up gig. You get moms, dads and kids who want to help benefit their school and have a good time.”
Karis recently performed for a Catholic school in Queens and received positive feedback.
“I have three types of acts that I do,” she said. “I have one I do for a religious crowd, another that is more politically charged and third I do for the clubs. I make sure to tailor my act for the right audience.”
Karis, who has been doing stand-up for three years, left Wall Street after years of being in the financial industry.
“I got out of the industry before the economy collapsed,” she said. “I did it at the right time.”
Since then she has appeared on several shows on Fox News. She was featured on “Red Eye” as well as Megyn Kelly’s show and thanks to her background in finance, she has been on Neil Cauvto’s show on the Fox Business Channel.
““I grew up in Greek home and there was no one going, ‘You know you should get into stand-up comedy,’” she said. She explained that when she was in school, she did not consider the entertainment field. She worked to get her degree in accounting and then she went into public accounting and eventually got her MBA in finance.
“I saw all my friends went to Wall Street and were making good money, so I decided to follow them,” she said. “It was while working on Wall Street, I got into derivatives and I worked with all kinds of derivatives.”
She said that after being in the corporate world she decided to take a class on improv and acting.
“The teacher asked if I did stand-up, and I said 'no' and I was encouraged to do so,” she said.
Since she began performing, she has done several independent movies, television shows and has appeared on “The Sopranos.”
However, she feels at home performing for audiences in Greek Orthodox churches. She was featured as one of the “Greek Gods of Comedy” and she regularly performs all over the country.
“I was in Salt Lake City performing for a Greek church,” she said. “These are my people and I feel comfortable performing for them.”
In her act, she talks about how flying is part of her regular routine and sometimes the flights can be difficult.
“One time, I flew to Cleveland and we experienced some turbulence, and I watched this woman in the aisle across from me pull out some Johnny Walker Red. She takes a sip and puts it in her pocket,” said Karris. She said she watched the woman do this several times. “The woman looked at me and said, ‘I’m a bad flyer.’ I said to her, ‘I’m a bad flyer. You’re an alcoholic.'”
While Karis has fun at the audience's expense, she makes sure people leave happy.
“In Florida, I was at a club and I was picking on this guy named Leo,” she said. “At the end of the night, I walked over and gave him a hug and thanked him for being a great sport. He told me that he was fighting cancer and my show was the most he laughed in a long time. Doing shows like that really brings a unique perspective and I appreciate doing them.”