Patricia “Ms. Pat” Williams may be a famed comedian now, but the obstacles she faced growing up in a rough neighborhood in Atlanta were no laughing matter. After having her first child at 14, she started selling drugs and eventually found herself behind bars. Today, she is the poster child for what can be accomplished when one decides to turn one’s life around. With a comedy career that has spanned over 13 years and garnered national fame, she calls the stage home.
The Recorder recently spoke with Williams to discuss all things comedy.
Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: You have overcome a ton of obstacles to get to where you are. How do you think the darker and more difficult parts of life feed into your comedy?
Williams: I think it’s just me bringing honesty. I like to talk about my life and find the funny in what most people would call pain. It’s me digging into that pain and bringing humanity to it. I look at it as turning your pain into laughter. People always say, “Why aren’t you angry, being a teenage mom and with everything you went through?” I tell people, “When you hate something or someone, that hate will control you.” I will not allow anything to control me.
What inspired you to become a comedian?
A caseworker encouraged me to be a comedian, and once I realized they didn’t do criminal history checks, I was like, “Yeah, that’s my job.” So many times I was told no by society for the mistakes I made and crimes I committed as a teenager. I went to get a job at a stand-up comedy joint, and no one cared about what I had been through, but actually they embraced my past. They were like, ‘Tell more, tell more,’ and I was like, ‘Really, you want more?’
In a recent memoir, you write about your relationship with a man you called “Derek,” who fathered two of your children and introduced you to selling drugs. When planning a comedy show or writing a book, do you ever feel conflicted when sharing about others?
When it comes to Derek, I just tell it all, but I spoke to my husband about this. I had a talk with my kids; they knew I was writing a memoir, and I asked if there was anything they don’t want me to say. My family is pretty open like me, and they said, “Tell it all.” Other than my immediate family, I had to call on them to help me remember, and everybody was supportive. Everybody except Derek.
You are originally from Atlanta. How did you end up in Naptown?
My husband’s job transferred us here 10 years ago. We came the year you guys won the Super Bowl, and I didn’t want to be here, but sometimes you’ve got to be still and let God guide your way. This is where I am supposed to be, and I truly believe that.
You are working on a TV show. Can you tell me about that?
Me and Lee Daniels sold a half-hour comedy to Fox. We are writing a pilot now, and it’s so far so good. (The process) is so slow. You can have three babies before you create one TV show. But it’s about my life, and it’s based here in Indianapolis.
For more information on Ms. Pat, visit mspatcomedy.com.