Just about every month or so, Mandee McKelvey gets to pretend she’s someone else for a weekend — and she gets paid for it. McKelvey isn’t a high-class call girl or anything like that — she’s a comedian and co-producer on the popular Roast series held at The Bard’s Town, and on Friday, she’ll portray beloved chef Julia Child for “The Roast of Guy Fieri.”
McKelvey, 38, explains that the Roasts are drummed up by comedy group Character Assassination, which was created in 2011 by Louisville comedian Raanan Hershberg. He has since relocated to New York City, so the other four members — McKelvey, Sean Keller, Kent Carney and Patrick Passafiume — stepped up to co-produce and continue the shows.
She tells Insider that in the beginning, comedy clubs shied away from the Roasts, but it was The Bard’s Town that stepped up as host.
“The Bard’s Town was the only place adventurous enough to let a group of standups experiment in their place of business,” she says. “Even the comedy clubs didn’t want our show. It didn’t fit in their usual format. But people liked it.”
Now, the crew takes their Roasts up to The Laugh Factory in Chicago the first Sunday of every month as well. The funny four also are responsible for casting, organizing, writing, creating costumes, sets and props, and even ticketing and marketing for each Roast.
Character Assassination has taken on everyone from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to Dracula, Wonder Woman, Barbie, Jesus and even Zach Morris. McKelvey says the ideas come out of brainstorming sessions, and then they reach out to area comics who might be able to contribute to the theme.
“We have to give people wiggle room to choose their own characters sometimes, as well,” she says. “Some of our most magical moments have come from taking risks on new performers.”
This month, the focus is on celebrity chef Guy Fieri, a guy McKelvey says people love to hate.
“He’s just fun to make jokes about,” she explains. “I love the idea of chefs all having rivalries with one another.”
Joining the cast will be Paula Deen, Gordon Ramsay, Emeril Lagasse and even the Swedish Chef from “The Muppets” and KFC’s Col. Sanders. McKelvey will portray Julia Child, whom she had the honor to “do” in Chicago recently.
“I absolutely cannot wait to play her again,” says McKelvey. “She is fun and fearless in my eyes.”
“The Roast of Guy Fieri” takes place at 7:30 and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 9-10, at The Bard’s Town, 1801 Bardstown Road. Tickets are $12 online or $15 at the door.
Before McKelvey starts practicing her polite British accent, we asked her some very important questions …
What’s the most surprising thing on your Bucket List?
I used to think things like, “Oh, before I die, I’ve got to go to the Maldives and stay in an over-the-water bungalow.” Then when it all came down to it, I realized the only thing I really wanted to do before I die was to try comedy. So I did it.
Now, all I want is an HBO special. That was always the gold standard when I was growing up. Not a Netflix special — they’ll give any jackass a Netflix special. An HBO special.
What poster was on your wall in junior high?
Probably New Kids on the Block. My parents were very utilitarian and wouldn’t let me have anything trendy that I would just grow out of.
But my brother’s girlfriend Lisa (who looked like an ’80s Barbie and was the coolest person I’d ever seen) gave me a box full of NKOTB memorabilia that I cherished and protected with my life.
If you were mayor, to whom would you give the key to the city?
Have you gotten it yet, Sara Havens? When I moved to Louisville over a decade ago, your Bar Belle columns were one of the only ways I knew to learn about the city. You always had cool ideas about things to do or places to be. That means a lot when you’re alone in a city for the first time.
Editor’s Note: Actually, the Bar Belle does have a key to the city, but she could always use a spare.
What are your preferred pizza toppings?
Canadian bacon and pineapple. And I prefer to go to places that call it “Canadian bacon” and not “ham.” It’s just classier.
If you could be any age for a week, what would it be?
My inclination is to go back and be a teenager again — but then I’d have to hang out with other teenagers, and that sounds just awful. Whatever age Helen Mirren is (71), so I can figure out how to look that good.
What famous person do people say you resemble the most?
Because of my long gray hair, I mostly get various witches and Disney villains. But my buddy Andelae trolls me every day about my large mouth. She calls it my Julia Roberts mouth and says it looks like I have 147 teeth when I smile.
Who would you most like to be stuck with in an elevator?
Ever since I saw that movie “Shallow Hal,” I’ve fantasized about being stuck in an elevator with Tony Robbins. I would love that kind of life-affirming, one-on-one time with a confrontational guru. I’m so afraid and so ready.