For those folks who are looking to have a fun night out while supporting a great cause, local businessman and comic Chris Mello has created a perfect fusion of the two. Each month, he assembles some of the best comedians Atlanta has to offer in the hopes of raising the audience’s spirits as well much needed donations for charity. Recently, we caught up with Chris so he could get the word out about the important work he’s doing and to discuss his next offering.
Ben: So tell us how these shows came about.
Chris: Well I’ve been doing standup comedy for about a year and have been fortunate enough to get stage time at the different clubs and bars around town. I’ve also been in the ATL working at my job for about eight years now, so I have my communities of friends, people I work with and have been lucky enough to become a part of Atlanta’s comedy community. It occurred to me that what I could do with these two worlds was put on a professionally produced show that could really bring people in. I felt like I had the network to do that, to take people from different communities and let them interact with each other. Then I thought…why not do it for a different charity each month? That way, it’s not just me who’s emotionally invested in the success of the show. The reason I prefer to call it a “benefit” instead of a “charity” is because I want it to benefit the charity as well as everyone in the room, including the comics.
Ben: What charities have you done shows for so far?
Chris: So far we’ve done one for Braydon Martin, a 5 year old who has stage 4 brain cancer. A friend of mine, Ashley, knew Braydon’s family so we partnered with her. We also did one for the “Multiple Sclerosis Challenge Walk”; my friend Alyssa has MS.The third one was “Gift for a Child”, a local charity ran by Renee Gun. Basically, they work to mobilize people in the business community to help teach life skills to foster children. Many of these kids never get adopted, so learning how to be a responsible adult is an important skill working professionals can teach them. Last month we did “Embraced”, a charity started by Lauren O’Brien that collects wheel chairs, crutches and other prosthesis for the handicapped. Embrace ships them out to different parts of the world where those type of things aren’t as easy to get.
Ben: How has the response been so far?
Chris: Pretty good. The show is only ten dollars so it’s not expensive to get in. We’ve been able to raise 2400 bucks year to date and we’ve connected a lot of people to each other that have similar stories. That’s just as important as the money.
How did you get connected with the Pitbull rescue organization?
My friend Tony gets his tattoo’s done at “All or Nothing Tattoo”. Brandon is one of the best tattoo artists in the world and in 2009, released a documentary called “Vicktory to the Underdog.”
The film is about his life, the mistakes he’s made to building a successful business. It draws the comparison between people like himself…who come from that background…who look like he did, with the reputation that Pitbulls have. It’s not deserved; it’s just judging a book by its cover. I discovered we had a connection at All or Nothing. We’ve also made the show uncensored which makes people get uncomfortable at certain times but then they’re laughing the very next minute. I believe there’s a synergy there, not judging a book by its cover and this type of comedy.
Ben: Comedy can get edgy and offensive. Have you had any rifts there?
Chris: I’m still new to comedy so my material is fairly limited and somewhat blue right now, but I don’t think anything good comes out of censoring it. When you take certain words and eliminate them, all you’re really doing is victimizing the context behind them. There were some shows where I’ve made some concessions on content. Like for instance, when the audience included parents of children with disabilities…I don’t know what it’s like to be one of those parents, to have your kid being called names. Making concessions can be good for comics in a way because we all have to learn how to be able to work clean, to work within certain parameters. Sometimes you have to take your act and mold it, that’s good for any artist to be able to do.
Ben: So the “All or Nothing Pitbull Rescue” show is May 15th?
Chris: Yes…May 15th. Doors open at 8PM, show is at 8:30…Jerry Farber’s Side Door inside The Landmark Diner in Buckhead. We usually have a silent auction like last month, when we raffled off Yankees-Braves tickets.
Ben: Tell me about Farber’s Side Door. What type of atmosphere is it?
Chris: The room is built for comedy and jazz. It’s intimate, if you put 40 or 50 people in there, you can have a really nice show. Having that intimacy is great for a show. If we can get at least 40 people, we’re going to have a really good time. Plus- they have a full bar, they serve food, the sound is excellent. All of those things add up. The room was built for comedy. The plan is to do as many of these shows as we can and it seems like we’re starting to build something. We just need a few more good shows under our belt, keep new faces coming out with their friends, continue expanding and branching into different people’s networks. It’s just a great opportunity to showcase local talent and raise awareness for these charities. We really appreciate everyone’s support.
Ben: What’s next after the Pitbull rescue show?
Chris: We have another benefit this month for a friend of mine, Patrick Kelly, who was diagnosed with brain, chest, and lung cancer. That show is on May 19th, a Saturday, doors at 6 P.M., show starts at 6:30. We’re also planning one with my buddy Ryan for a charity called “AWARE”. It’s a charity that helps raise money for neglected animals.
Ben: Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap this up?
Chris: I’d just like to thank all of the folks who help make these shows possible. In particular- Jessica Hinckle who designs all the great posters for our shows, Celeste Echols Photography for taking such beautiful pictures and all of the incredible comics who perform. I’d also like to thank Jerry Farber and Jed Fearon for giving us such a wonderful venue where we can bring it all together. We couldn’t do it without them.
For more information or to donate to “All Or Nothing Pitbull Rescue”, please visit…http://atlantapitbullrescue.com/.
Please visit at HERE if you’d like to read more about Chris’ upcoming or past shows.