Sunday Conversation with Kevin Gillese

Bacon and comedy — perhaps the world’s perfect pairing

Dad’s Garage Theatre is all about making people — a lot of people — laugh. The 20-year-old theater company in Inman Park puts on some 350 performances a year, whether that involves improv, original plays, podcasts or videos. In its spare time, Dad’s Garage offers a high school outreach and onsite classes and workshops for funny wannabes.

“If I had to sum us up, we take arts and culture and spin it on its head,” said artistic director Kevin Gillese.

Now it’s time to get serious.

On March 28, Dad’s Garage is hosting its annual fundraiser centered around, wait for it, bacon. Some 2,500 pounds of swine, which is more than a ton, will be cooked up at this year’s BaconFest. (The event is for grownups only so cook the kids bacon at home.)

The AJC talked to Gillese about the staying power of Dad’s Garage — and how bacon has played a major role in that from the very beginning.

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Q: How are you different from other theater companies?

A: Honestly, I don’t know of any comparable company in town. There are very few companies in the country that do improv and original work like plays and musicals and online content.

Q: Don’t you do children’s programming?

A: We did and we will again when we have our new venue. We just bought a church in the Old Fourth Ward. As soon as that opens, we will be doing more programming.

Q: Is this is a challenging climate for theater companies like yours?

A: Right now is a very tough time for most nonprofit theaters. We certainly have our challenges. We don’t have as many of your traditional wealthy donors writing a check for $10,000. However, we have a good, loyal fan base. Our bread and butter is the average person on the street. Something like BaconFest appeals to them.

Q: Who came up with the ingenious idea to build a fundraiser around bacon?

A: The guys who founded Dad’s Garage 20 years ago were renegades of their theater department at Florida State University. When they were still students, they bought a keg of beer and cooked up as much bacon as they could grill. They eventually graduated and ended up banding together to form this theater community in Atlanta. As Dad’s Garage grew, so did BaconFest.

Q: Where does the bacon come from?

A: We have restaurant partners who try to show who makes the best bacon in town.

Q: Southerners know their bacon. What do you know about it being from Canada?

A: From a scientific perspective, I don’t know a ton about bacon. My ability to cook bacon is limited to a few different methods. But I have eaten a lot of bacon in my day. I have a refined pork palate, if you will.

Q: Is there such a thing as Canadian bacon?

A: Sure. It is ham.

Q: Is the smell of BaconFest just overpowering?

A: If everyone was just sitting around munching on bacon, you might reflect on the smell. There’s a lot of other stuff going on — bands, rocking, different carnival games, food trucks.

Q: Who might I see at BaconFest?

A: There are some pretty great animated series, movies and TV shows made in Atlanta. You could see some of our members who are becoming quite well known, like Amber Nash and Lucky Yates from “Archer,” or Tara Ochs from “Selma,” or Dan Triandiflou from “Your Pretty Little Face is Going to Hell.” That’s kind of cool.

Q: How long does it take you to be able to face bacon after BaconFest?

A: Honestly, I always take a few days and just eat salad and drink water.

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