BACKGROUND: A stand-up comedian for nearly 20 years, Karen Mills has had serious success in the funny business. She's worked with Jon Stewart, was contributing writer for "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," toured with the Southern Fried Chick comedy tour and most recently shot a television pilot in Nashville, "The Henry Cho Comedy Show." She's performed in Barrow, Alaska; Key West, Florida and everywhere in between. Before comedy her stage was the basketball court. Standing a mere 5'2" she was named All-American and the first female inducted into UTC's basketball hall of fame.
? I was a mortgage broker for six years in Atlanta and never really considered stand-up as a serious career until I went to open mic at The Punch Line. The manager said he thought I had a knack for it and needed to focus on writing my own material. I started going back to open mic, eventually got hired to open for the bigger acts then moved up to headliner.
? What I love about stand-up is it's up to me. It isn't up to an agent saying you're the right look or you're not, you need to do this, or you're not the right type. If you can get up and make them laugh you can come back. I'll take the glory or I'll take the blame - just give me my shot.
? I'm originally from Cleveland and after finishing school at UTC I moved to Atlanta for 18 years. I came back to do a benefit downtown and when I saw what they'd done to Chattanooga, I moved back in six months.
? I love junking. I'm one of the coowners of the furniture consignment store Dwelling. If I'm on the road and have a car with me I'll hit different thrift stores and antique malls looking for vintage furniture. I just love to find a great deal.
? I'm an animal freak and always rescuing strays. That is a passion of mine. I'm just in love with my animals and want everyone else to be too. I think dogs are the more intelligent species because they love unconditionally and they'll fight to the death to protect their young. I think they're smarter than we are in a lot of cases.
? One thing that's been a big lesson from sports is that you have to be prepared for your moment. In high school my basketball coach would make me stay after practice every day and make 250 shots even though my job was to handle the ball, not to shoot. I would be so mad at him. But in the final game of the 1976 state tournament we were down by one point with three seconds left and all our shooters were covered. The ball got passed back to me and I made the last-second shot to win the game.