Speed Read: Ms. Pat’s Raw Talent

Hoosier comic Ms. Pat traded selling drugs for cracking jokes.
1. Ms. Pat performs in comedy clubs across the country and on TV; a veteran of Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, she will compete on the next season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing, which begins filming in April. But the Plainfield resident schedules shows in Indy just once a year. “People don’t appreciate you in your hometown like they do on the road,” she says. Don’t miss your chance to prove her wrong, March 26–28 at Morty’s Comedy Joint.

2. Real name: Patricia Williams Lee. Now 42, she grew up in her grandfather’s bootlegging house in Atlanta, surrounded by drug and alcohol abuse. By age 15, she was a mother of two, and she supported her children the only way she knew how—selling cocaine and crack. Street name: Rabbit.

3. Ms. Pat has been shot twice, arrested countless times, and hit by a dump truck, but she started walking the straight and narrow after meeting her husband, Army veteran Garrett Lee, in an Atlanta comedy club at age 19. When Lee’s job relocated him to Indiana, the family settled on Indy’s west side.

4. A welfare caseworker was the first to suggest that Lee had a knack for comedy. “I’d go in and tell stories about my life. Usually I’d get a white caseworker who’d be like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry you had such a bad life,’ but that time I got a black caseworker who was like, ‘That crap is funny. You should be a comedian,’” she says.

5. Ms. Pat first tested her talent at an open-mic night, figuring she could keep the act a secret if it flopped. It didn’t.

6. Her favorite joke: “My daughter tells me, ‘You’re mean. I can’t wait to put you in an old-folks’ home.’ And I’m like, ‘Child, we are 12 years apart.’”

7. When Ms. Pat jokes about her rough childhood, white audience members sometimes “shut down” because they’re not sure whether they’re allowed to laugh, she says.

8. Harper-Collins plans to publish Ms. Pat’s memoir, which the comic is currently writing.

9. The book is untitled—and it’s too bad the name Full House is already taken. Now a mother of four, Ms. Pat also helped raise her sister’s four daughters—one of whom lives with her, along with her own children. She also has one granddaughter, age 2.

10. For Ms. Pat, stand-up comedy and writing serve as forms of therapy. “Secrets kill you on the inside,” she says. “When I started to tell my stories onstage, I started to heal.”

Ms. Pat performs five shows March 26–28 at Morty’s Comedy Joint, 3625 E. 96th St., 848-5500. Tickets are $12 to $15.