By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Nonstop laughs blared from an audience of over 200 guests attending the second Celebrity Roast to benefit Employment Options, presented May 31 at the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel. No one laughed more heartily than the person squirming in the hot seat: Cathy Mogavero, executive vice president of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRCC).
Modeled after the entertainment industry's star-studded roasts, the evening featured a lineup of local business and community leaders, each taking a turn good-naturedly poking fun at the guest of honor. Serving as master of ceremonies was NECN television reporter Eileen Curran.
MRCC President and CEO Susanne Morreale Leeber explained why she asked to be the first to speak.
“In our office, I never get a word in,” she said dryly. “In meetings, by the time I get to talk, Cathy has pretty much used up all the words possible – and most of the oxygen.”
That was not her last word on the topic.
“Cathy talks so fast and with so much energy, that many conversations with her leave me wondering, “What just happened?”” relayed Morreale Leeber. “Wow, we just had a 10-minute conversation. At least Cathy did.”
Gag props were supplied to highlight Mogavero's boundless energy: a wind-up Energizer Bunny and rabbit ears, which the honoree wore throughout the entire roast.
On a more serious note, Morreale Leeber added, “Cathy, your enthusiasm gives me and every one of us in the office the energy to keep doing our jobs well. We couldn's have a great chamber without you.”
Mogavero's skill as a detail-oriented networker was discussed by roaster Darren McLaughlin, general manager of Wayside Racquet & Swim Club.
“The woman seems to have worked with 90 percent of the people in the commonwealth of Massachusetts at one time or another,” McLaughlin said. “She doesn's just know them,” he emphasized, adding, “she knows their spouses, their kids, the last three houses they owned and what they sold for, and every job they'se held since high school. She's a walking encyclopedia of who's who in Metrowest.”
The roast included screenings of several comical videos including one of McLaughlin impersonating Mogavero on the phone at the MRCC office while eagerly recruiting a new member. His time at the podium concluded with warm words and a bouquet of flowers for the honoree.
“It is a pleasure knowing you, working with you, and laughing with you,” he told her. “I only hope that someday I can find a way to keep up with you.”
The final roaster was Jack Cutone, former chair of the MRCC Board of Directors, who called Mogavero “the link that holds the chamber together” and credited her popularity for attracting so many guests to the fundraiser.
“How do we get over 200 people into an empty room?” he asked. “Just make fun of Cathy.”
Other roasters included former state Rep. Stephen LeDuc, who occupied the hot seat at the first roast in 2010; Peter Marshall, president of Marshall Insurance Agency; and Toni Wolf, executive director of Employment Options.
Before Mogavero was introduced to speak, the podium had been accidentally damaged by roasters” horseplay and stained with whipped cream from hurled pies. Summing up the evening's fundraiser, Mogavero got the last word.
“It's all about just having fun and supporting a wonderful organization like Employment Options,” she said.
Proceeds will help Employment Options continue to provide mental health rehabilitation services. The nonprofit agency's executive director said the roast is a good way to raise funds.
“Mental illness has so much stigma attached,” Wolf said, “so why not have an event that's really about humor.”
For information, visit www.employmentoptions.org.