Ms. Pat's background is anything but funny.
Growing up on welfare with an alcoholic mother in a rough Atlanta neighborhood, she gave birth to two children, became a drug dealer, was arrested countless times and was shot twice — all before her 19th birthday.
Her dark past, however, has become fodder for comedy that puts a smile on her face and fills rooms with laughter.
"Anything that gets me down, I try to look for the funny in everything," she says. "I think that's what people like about me. I take what is a horrible situation and just laugh about it."
Ms. Pat, aka Patricia Williams, has worked in stand-up comedy since 2003. Her eventual trip to her first open-mic night wasn't the culmination of her studying the greats as a stand-up comedy fan. Rather, in the midst of raising her two children and her sister's four children, whom she took in while she struggled with drug addiction, she was urged to give it a shot by people who heard her tell hilarious stories at the welfare office. One person told her that her brutally honest storytelling reminded them of the great Richard Pryor.
"I didn't know what a stand-up comic was, to be honest," she says. "I was like, 'Who the hell is Richard Pryor?' I Googled him and I thought, I can do this."
Before long, Ms. Pat was doing stand-up on a consistent basis. When she wasn't hitting the road, she was in studios as a guest on popular radio shows including The Bob and Tom Show and well-known comedy podcasts including The Joe Rogan Experience and WTF! With Marc Maron. If you do a deep dive on YouTube to find Ms. Pat's stand-up comedy, you'll notice in the comments section that a lot of people were turned on to her stand-up comedy through these appearances. If you put a microphone in Ms. Pat's face, you'll get the no-holds-barred truth about her life, one way or another.
"When people hear the podcasts, it's not always material," she says. "When they (see my YouTube clips), they realize my material is just as honest as the podcast."
Ms. Pat has continued to make her presence felt and her voice heard in stand-up while opening for comedian Arnez J and making a brief appearance in Katt Williams' stand-up special Kattpacalypse. She most recently popped up on television screens on Comedy Central's storytelling stand-up showcase This is Really Happening.
This week will be Ms. Pat's second appearance in Lexington when she performs through Saturday at Comedy Off Broadway. Now happily married and residing in Indianapolis, Ms. Pat has moved well beyond her dark past. She still has a personal and family life that's ripe for comedy and relatable to a wide audience without having to give her take on pop culture or other topics.
"We all have the same problems. Somebody's got a teenager they want to knock the hell out of," she says, laughing. "I don't have to be worried about what Beyonce's doing, what Jay Z's doing. I've got real (expletive) to worry about."
In the very near future, you won't just be able see Ms. Pat on stage. She is currently a contestant on the upcoming season of NBC's stand-up comic reality competition Last Comic Standing, which premieres this summer. She also is working on her autobiography, Rabbit (which was her street name as a drug dealer) and is more of a straightforward look at her life and how she overcame her circumstances. Ms. Pat plans to stay busy with her career, and whether you see her, hear her or read her words, she hopes you walk away with a bit of humor and hope.
"I always tell my story to say, it's not about how you get knocked down," she says. "It's how you pick yourself back up and deal with the situation."