By Maggie Beker
Karen Cassady has been a devout Daddian for seven years. She was first converted to our ways through a Dad’s Garage Improv for Actors class. “Basically, it was all four levels in eight weeks. So, I remember there was one point where I was just crying… It was intense, but it was fun.” Her tears were definitely worth it, because she became a rookie at the end of that year. She’d always had an interest in being a comedic actress, but she’d never delved deeply into improv. Once becoming a part of the family, “the people at Dad’s Garage, especially Kevin [DG’s Artistic Director], really mentored me. They helped me find my strengths… things like ‘this is what people notice about you, this is what you own on stage’…”
For Karen, whose faith is important to her, being a part of the Dad’s Garage family was like joining another congregation. Dad’s Garage is “not just where we do improv; it’s a community, it’s where we have family. It is a church still.”
While some of the heathens of Dad’s Garage were a bit intimidated at first by Karen’s faith, they all found common ground upholding the sanctity of bacon. Many of Karen’s favorite Dad’s Garage memories coincide with BaconFest.
At her second year of BaconFest as a company member, Karen was asked to dress up as the beloved BaconFest mascot, a strip of bacon. “We have this signature move here – the pizza slice – you just go ‘whoop’ up someone’s butt crack. They asked me if I wanted to go around and do that to people.” With her small face beaming through the costume’s face hole, Karen consensually pizza-sliced her way through the day. Half the people said no, but the next year, almost no one turned away from Karen’s new BaconFest activity…. a compliment booth. People sit down and Karen says what she likes about them. “It took off, and I’ve done it every year now. I think I’ve done it for the past 5 years. I’ve even done it at different events for Dad’s. It’s my favorite thing to do. I love it. I love just talking to random people and giving them compliments.”
The compliment booth really is perfect for Karen. Her heart is huge – not in a concerning you-should-see-a-doctor kind of way – but in the spreading-joy-and-positivity metaphorical kind of way. It was her joy and positivity that helped make her most recent creation a reality. Karon the Barbarian, pitched almost two years ago, had a few bumps. “Co-writers came, co-writers went, and there was this moment where I was like Is this really going to happen? Kevin told me, ‘You need to do this.’ I realized this whole thing was to challenge me – writing it, taking charge. It’s been an insane growing process.” She didn’t give up, and Karon the Barbarian performed its four week run with what ArtsAtl affectionately called “an overall atmosphere of giddy, stupid fun.” At Dad’s Garage, we’re in the business of giddy, stupid fun. Don’t believe me? Join us for a pizza slice – if you’re lucky, Karen Cassady will be serving it up with a steaming, hot compliment.