Effie Stephanidis came to the rescue on Saturday night.
Organisers of the annual Mai-Wel Celebrity Comedy Debate received a phone call on Friday with news that star attraction Fiona O’Loughlin was ill and unable to attend.
A last-minute call to Mary Coustas, who plays the outrageous TV character Effie, sealed a star replacement.
“When you consider that [Effie] didn’t get a call until 3pm Friday, she did an amazing job to perform the way she did,” Mai-Wel Group CEO Pennie Kearney said. “Her performance was fantastic; the audience was thrilled.”
Effie led her team, which included Hunter Land chief executive Graham Burns and Old George and Dragon chef Gavin Forman, to victory.
They were up against radio presenter Aaron Kearney, former MasterChef contestant Alvin Quah and humorist, author and journalist Kerry Cue.
The topic of the debate at Maitland Town Hall was “Is Reality TV better than Reality?”
Effie’s team successfully argued that reality is superior to reality television.
And the event was another success for Mai-Wel.
“As soon as tickets were announced, we sold most of the tables in the first week,” Ms Kearney said. “It was a sell out.”
Mai-Wel received funding from ticket sales and raffles, with the final figure to be confirmed.
Last year’s debate raised $14,300 and Ms Kearney was confident that this year’s tally would be more.
The overall figure was boosted by Old George and Dragon owner Jennifer Nichols, who contributed a last-minute addition to the raffle.
“Jenni Nichols offered a degustation dinner for 10 people to be cooked in the winner’s home,” Ms Kearney said. “It was a surprise auction item – and it raised over $3000.”