Sometimes life just isn’t funny. But that doesn’t stop Indiana’s Very Own comedian Ms. Pat.
From sexual abuse as a child, teen motherhood and a jail stint as a drug dealer, she’s become a national example of the comeback.
“My welfare worker kept saying, ‘You funny. You funny,’” she said, smiling.
That advice came to a young mother of two with a criminal record--and it changed everything.
“So I got on stage. And all I had prepared was one joke about my brother being a fat cat burglar. 'Cause he used to break into people’s house," she said. "And one time he broke into somebody’s house and said ‘Freeze. I’m the FBI. I’m here to take your TV.’ And we ran out the door with a TV.”
How does she keep her sense of joy?
“Because I just learned, I just taught myself. I can’t dwell on stuff I don’t have control over,” she said.
She’s unfiltered, because she lived every detail.
“I had two kids by a married man by the time I was 15. So at that time he was selling drugs and he goes to jail. Now I have no one to pay my rent,” she said.
Her desperation eventually led her to sell crack near her daughter’s elementary school in Atlanta.
“Comedy saved me,” she said.
“I got shot when I was 15. It went up under my arm and blew my areola out. But I have such a great joke about it.”
She continues to confront and confess her darkest days in her new autobiography entitled Rabbit.
“My stepfather came up with the name 'rabbit.' He told me if I ate enough carrots my eyes would turn blue. Which I ate a lot of carrots, but my eyes didn’t turn blue. Maybe if I buy contacts from the Chinese store, “ she said.
She writes about when she decided life had to change.
“When I was doing time in jail for trafficking drugs I just realized, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m doing the same thing to my kids that my momma did to me,’” Ms. Pat said.
Fortunately, she found comedy and found Indy.
She credits Indy-based comedians like the crew on the Bob and Tom radio show for taking her comedy nationwide.
“I was able to get into a better comedy club. I was able to get around people who were able to tell me to challenge myself with these crazy stories because I wasn’t telling these stories when I got here,” she said.
Personally, she’s committed her life to helping the other “Rabbits” she meets--kids left to fend for themselves.
“Every time I see a poor kid, I see Rabbit,” she said.
“This country say pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Well, you’re looking at somebody who didn’t have no bootstraps. Who wasn’t born with no bootstraps, who wasn’t given no bootstraps. I got where I’m at today because people helped me along the way.”
On top of her own four kids, Ms. Pat took in her niece’s four children after she says her niece ended up on crack and homeless.
She’s also working on a sitcom based on her life with Lee Daniels, who’s behind productions like The Butler, Precious and Empire.
Her book, Rabbit, is currently in bookstores nationwide.