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Comedian talks about healing through laughter

Ms. Pat to play Laugh Boston

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
Comedian talks about healing through laughter
Comedian Ms. Pat (Photo: Photo: Tony Valainis)

If it wasn’t Ms. Pat’s real life, you’d think it was a TV movie-of-the-week. Born to a single mother of five and living on welfare, Ms. Pat had her first child at 14 and her second at 15. She was shot twice, jailed numerous times and hit by a dump truck. While still in her teens, she sold drugs under the street name of “Rabbit.” At 19, she met her future husband, who got her out of “the life.” After that, Ms. Pat became a caretaker for her sister’s four children as their mother struggled with drug addiction.

But Ms. Pat was meant to live a different type of life. In 2003, at the suggestion of her caseworker who thought she was funny, Ms. Pat was encouraged to do stand-up. So the Atlanta native took a chance on herself and performed at an open mic night, where she was immediately hooked when she heard the audience laughing at her jokes.

Reached by phone recently, the stand-up comedian recalls thinking at the time, “‘Wow, they think this is funny. I’m a comedian.’ I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I felt really good and walked away saying, ‘I could really do this!’”

After that, comedy became her lifeline, and no topic or real-life incident were to be off limits for the stage.

“I tell everything. I don’t know why I do. I think getting all these stories out and finding a way to laugh at it has helped me to heal,” says the storyteller. “When you keep stuff inside it starts to grow, and the more I kept it in, the more angry I became. Once I became a comedian and was able to share it, I realized ‘Hey, we all the same. Everybody kind of goes through stuff.’ And I was able to start healing when I was able to start talking about it.”

An admirer of Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor for their ability to “paint a picture” with their comedy, Ms. Pat has been able to create visually compelling and engrossing stories that cross gender, ethnicity and economic status. This sentiment was reaffirmed when she competed on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 2015. She remembers Norm MacDonald (NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”), one of the judges, saying to her after one of her sets, “‘I’m a 50-something white dude and I didn’t come from where you came from. You bring me into your world.’”

If you go

See Ms. Pat at Laugh Boston Thursday, Sept. 15 through Saturday, Sept. 17. Laugh Boston is located at 425 Summer Street, Boston. For tickets and show times, call 617-725-2844 or visit www.laughboston.com.

Ms. Pat soon will be sharing more of her world with a much bigger audience. In the works: a half-hour comedy pilot for Fox TV, executive produced by Lee Daniels and Brian Grazer of “Empire,” and a memoir for HarperCollins slated for fall 2017 release. As if that’s not enough, Ms. Pat also is writing a one-woman show based on her life.

For now, you can see the comedian headlining her first Boston gig at Laugh Boston this weekend. When asked what audiences can expect from her shows, Ms. Pat responded, “This is storytelling. I always say, ‘Hold my hand because I’m about to take you to a place that you’ve never been. Just hold my hand. We’re going to go through it and come back out and you gonna be safe.’”