'Big Fat Greek' fundraiser

Comedian's Hilton Head show to help raise money to rebuild Greek Orthodox church destroyed in Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks

August 20, 2011 

Comedian Ellen Karis refers to her upcoming visit to Hilton Head Island as her "Big Fat Greek Vacation." But while in town she'll be contributing to efforts to rebuild St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at ground zero in New York City, the only church destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Karis, a political humorist, will perform "One Night Only with Greek Comedian Ellen Karis" at 8 p.m. Monday at the Comedy Club of Hilton Head, 430 William Hilton Parkway in Pineland Station. Doors open at 7 p.m., and food and beverages will be available. Tickets are $20. Details: 843-837-4659

The event is sponsored by Holy Resurrection Greek Orthodox Church of Bluffton where Karis attends services when vacationing on Hilton Head each year. Karis offered to do a benefit performance for the Bluffton congregation, which decided to donate the proceeds to St. Nicholas.

Karis spent 20 years working for one of the top 10 accounting firms as an auditor before working at a large investment bank on Wall Street. She recalls doing jokes in her head during meetings.

"I knew there was a creative side to me and a very expressive side to me," Karis said. "I got tired of hearing people say, 'Let's' table this.' They were afraid to make a decision. ... Or they would say, 'Let's have another meeting to plan a meeting.' Or, 'I'll call you.' What are you going to call me for? I'm sitting right here."

She had begun taking acting classes and her teacher noted her flair for humor before 9/11 struck her life. While on her way to her Wall Street job, Karis heard the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

"I was walking on the plaza," Karis said. "It was a gorgeous, beautiful day and I remember looking up at the sky. ... I heard a zoom, a really loud noise. It was like a bomb came from the sky and exploded. I immediately knew it was terrorism. I lost very, very good friends. ... It was beyond awful ... your worst nightmare."

Karis credits God for overcoming the memories of that day.

"It will always be in my heart. You will never forget," she said. "I did not have a nervous breakdown. I prayed to Jesus to help us and that is what got me through it: prayer and family."

For the past 10 years, she has turned to comedy, much of it based on growing up in a Greek neighborhood in Manhattan. Her sense of humor -- especially about politics and the economy -- has landed Karis on "Fox & Friends." she's also appeared on Fox's "The Strategy Room" Webcast, "The Sopranos" and in other television roles. Her observations about recent presidential candidate debates include being surprisingly impressed with Newt Gingrich.

"But he needs a personality transplant from Kelly Ripa," she said. "I like Bachmann, but ... we are going to have to make her a little bit more New York. She's too proper."

Karis discovered Hilton Head after one of her husband's golfing vacations.

"He loved it, and said he wanted to come back and vacation with me. We would watch golf on TV ... the Heritage ... and see that lighthouse and he said 'I want to take you there.'"

Karis describes herself and her husband as among few conservatives in their Manhattan neighborhood. But when visiting coffee hour with members of Holy Resurrection in Bluffton, she said she feels "like a pig in mud. We were so happy."

"We are the only Republications on (Manhattan)," Karis said in a telephone interview from her home. "We are down to like talking to five people. ... Being a Republican in Manhattan is like being a Mormon in Pakistan."

While Karis jokes about Hilton Head needing more ice cream places that stay open later at night, she enjoys the friendliness and patriotism of the residents.

"I love the patriotism with all the flags and all the churches. It is so loving, it is full of love," she said. "And on that ocean and the houses on that beach, that would be nirvana. It is God's country."


The Women of the Church will continue a Nearly New Clothing Sale from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. today in the church Parish Hall, 507 Newcastle St., Beaufort. The sale features gently used clothing, accessories and jewelry.

Details: 843-522-1712, www.st helenas1712.org


A Singspiration begins at 7 p.m. today. Guest evangelist Marshall Clack of Atlanta will speak at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday The church is at 206 Sea Island Parkway, Lady's Island.

Details: 843-592-2299


The church will celebrate its 78th anniversary at 3 p.m. Sunday. Pastor Harry Chaney and the Mount Ararat Primitive Baptist Church of Attapulgus, Ga., will speak. The church is at 1544 Ribaut Road, Port Royal.

Details: 843-524-4037


The 146th church anniversary celebration continues at 2 p.m. Sunday with the Rev. Dr. Elijah Washington of First African Baptist Church of St. Helena Island as speaker.

Details: 843-524-8528, 843-524-4465


Dr. Allen Galloway will continue the celebration of his 10th pastoral anniversary at 4 p.m. Sunday with Dr. Renty Elvis Kitty of St. Luke and Pilgrim Baptist Churches as speaker.

Details: 843-525-0800


"Christ Jesus" will be the Bible lesson topic presented at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at 401 Scott St. Sunday School begins at 10:30 a.m. The society meets at Temple Beth Israel.

Details: 843-441-2262


David Hudson, former president of a Unitarian Universalist congregation in the Atlanta area, will discuss "Economic Justice: One Big Soul -- the theology of John Steinbeck based on 'The Grapes of Wrath'" at 10 a.m. Sunday. The fellowship meets at 178 Sams Point Road, Lady's Island.

Details: 843-838-1399


The Rev. Manuel Holland will discuss "How And Why We Support Human Dignity" at 10 a.m. Sunday. The church is at 110 Malphrus Road, Bluffton.

Details: 843-837-3330


The Rev. Louis Murray, associate minister of the St. Paul Baptist Church will speak from noon-12:45 p.m. Wednesday in Helen Galloway's Memorial Chapel of Chisholm Galloway Home for Funerals, 808 Bladen St., Beaufort.

Details: 843-524-6634


The church's 139th anniversary celebration is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Aug. 26. Speakers are: Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Rev. Dr. Elijah Washington of First African Baptist Church; Thursday, the Rev. Donald Goodwine of St. Paul Baptist Church; and Friday, the Rev. Sam Spain of Lady's Island Baptist Church.

The Rev. Abraham Murray, pastor of Brick Baptist Church, will speak at 1 p.m. Aug. 24. The church is at 36 Friendship Lane, Coosaw Island.

Details: 843-521-4419


The church will present an evening of worship music featuring Tim Malchak, national recording artist, at 7 p.m. Aug. 28. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The church is at 296 Spanish Wells Road, Hilton Head Island

Details: 843-689-3625, www.malchak.com


Ellen Karis on the Web

Ellen Karis on YouTube

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