NEW YORK – Actress and stand-up comedian Ellen Karis, best known as the “Greek Goddess of Comedy,” recently released her first children’s book, titled Special People: Godparents in the Orthodox Christian Faith. Available online, the book is a great resource for teaching children ages 4-10 about Godparents and their role in children’s lives in the Orthodox Christian Faith.
Karis is currently performing her stand-up comedy in virtual shows for the Greek community across the country, including Holy Trinity Church in New Rochelle, the Annunciation NYC Gala, AHEPA in Michigan, and the Plato School in Brooklyn. She spoke with The National Herald about her book and about her upcoming projects.
When asked how long it took from idea to publication, Karis told TNH, “Five years from idea to fruition. It was a labor of love. I had no idea how difficult writing a children's book with illustrations was. Since this is a faith-based book, I had to be factually correct, as well as make it understandable for children and have the illustrations match the text. I had to really think about who the audience and the reader would be and how the book would be utilized best and what its purpose was.”
Karis continued, “The idea came from three sources. I have been a Sunday School teacher at the Archdiocesan Holy Trinity Cathedral for 13 years. Years ago, I used to teach the 4, 5, and 6 year-olds (now, I teach the 10, 11, and 12 year-olds). I wanted to make sure I instilled in the kids our important feast days, name days and what being baptized means, which, of course, lead me to Godparents. I realized then that the kids weren't exactly sure what Godparents meant. I could not find any good resources that they would understand, so that was the seed. I also pushed to have Godparents Day at our Church after that.
“In addition, I am the Godmother to seven children- at that time it was three- and I know how crucial that role is and what a responsibility it is. I also have no children of my own, so for me, it was such an honor to know that I was a second parent and got to- and continue to- experience their journey in life.”
Karis noted, “Lastly, I have the absolutely the best Godmother- who had no children of her own as well, was an elementary school teacher and librarian and an aficionado of children's books. She also took me to my first play when I was 4 years old at Lincoln Center and introduced me to the arts, where I fell in love with live performances. Again, showing that a Godparent can have such a profound impact on a child's life, so this is an homage to her for all that she has done for me from taking me to plays, reading with me, and taking me to Church, of course. A couple of years ago we went on a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land together and it was life altering. I can go on, but it comes down to how much I love our faith, how rich it is, how grateful to be part of such a rich heritage and highlighting that the Godparent is a part of that village of people like Yiayia and Papou that make us who we are.”
When asked what she is working on next, Karis told TNH, “I am a stand-up comedian, so I am always writing material and I have a weekly podcast on iTunes, ‘Karis Comedy Corner,’ where I interview a new guest each week. As far as bigger projects, I am currently writing a one-woman show about my great-grandmother who came her with her family from Cyprus, I hope to start workshopping once I can get people into a black box type theatre. I also have a TV show sitcom pilot that I am involved in. As far as more books, a humor book is in my head, as is another children's book, which would be more mainstream.”
“Oh, and I want to lose six pounds but I have a better shot at getting the TV pilot aired,” Karis joked.
“This is the deal, I started my life as a CPA, became an actress and comedian, and now I have a children's book, you never know where God is going to take you, you make plans and he says, ‘Uh, I don't think so, I have this on my to-do list for you and it shall be done.’ O Theos einai Megalos,” Karis concluded.
Special People: Godparents in the Orthodox Christian Faith by Ellen Karis, illustrated by
Kristina Tartara, is available online: https://amzn.to/3co3GIL.
Karis’ hilarious new short film #ShortPeopleProblems is also available online: https://youtu.be/_W2q0rUhps8.
Subscribe to Karis’ YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ComedybyEllen.
Karis Comedy Corner Podcast: http://kariscomedycorner.libsyn.com.
Follow Ellen Karis on Twitter and Instagram: @GreekChickComic
Facebook: Ellen Karis "Greek Goddess of Comedy”
More information is available online: www.ellenkaris.com.