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In her comedy routines and on TV, Ms. Pat wants to cuss you out just like she does her kids. It might not be common in your house, but it’s authentic to her and that’s what the 50-year-old actor and comedian aims for in her work. Steadily climbing the comedy ladder, from creating and starring in the BET+ series, The Ms. Pat Show, to her Netflix special, Ms. Pat: Y’all Wanna Hear Something Crazy?, the funny lady is on the road with her “I Got Some Sh*t to Say” tour. And Washingtonians better prepare for a tongue-lashing because she’s booked for two nights at DC Improv this week.
Aside from a plethora of affectionate f-bombs, fans can expect to hear from her latest stash of unfiltered, uncomfortable, and—at times—unbelievable personal stories. That includes some familiar themes, such as her days as a teen mother and a former drug dealer in Atlanta, as well as new tales of “crazy times” spent with her biological father who reentered her life at age 12, and her “whole new famous life” that has been decades in the making.
“I’m from the street and a lot of times people run up on me,” she tells City Paper. “I be forgetting it’s a Ms. Pat show, and I’m ready to fight. And I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s right. I’m on TV.’”
To Patricia Williams, a mother of eight children—four biological and four adopted—ranging in age from 8 to 36, swearing at your loved ones is as misunderstood as she is in Hollywood, where she strives to break the mold of the palatable Black housewife on her Emmy-nominated show, which debuts its second season on Aug. 11. The family sitcom, inspired by Williams’ own life, follows the aspiring comedian, her loving husband, her children, and her recovering drug addict sister as they adjust to life in the White suburbs of Indiana after moving from the South.
Neither the glitz and glam of Hollywood nor the white picket fences of the ’burbs can change Ms. Pat. She not only wears her uncensored brand of Black love as a badge of honor, but she also uses it to connect to viewers who remember growing up in chaotic households. “It’s family,” she says. “Family have problems, but in the end they should always be able to come back together and still love each other.”
In representing real families, one plot point she remains proud of is the writing for the show’s father, who loves his audacious, dream-chasing wife just as she is—no refinement or plastic surgery needed. “Ms. Pat is real in everybody household,” Williams says. “I might not be your mama, but I might be somebody you know … I don’t behave on there. I don’t cook. The husband cook. I don’t do the traditional things—I’m a big, old, fat, light skin lady with a big, old, fat Black husband with pretty Black kids. [We] look like a real household. So, I think we broke all the sitcom rules of having a mama that looks a certain way—with pearls. I’m not Clair Huxtable. I’m Ms. Pat.”
Williams’ commitment to portraying her authentic self and sharing her true story of surviving domestic abuse led the fifth episode of The Ms. Pat Show, “Baby Daddy Groundhog Day,” to receive an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. In it, her abusive ex, and the father of her two eldest children, comes to visit—a scenario that is reimagined by each character who copes in emotional yet humorous ways.
“It was an episode about all of us winning,” she says. “But in the end, I’m the one that really won ’cause I was the one affected the most by him.”
In season two, Ms. Pat and her family dive into topics of death, racism, abortion, Black hair, and more memories that she wasn’t ready to get into during the first season, including an episode about her childhood molestation. She thoughtfully challenges viewers, critics, and journalists to “open your mind” beyond the shock value of her jokes and join her for her “season of healing.” And yes, she is cussing all the way through it.
“I feel like it’s a healing mechanism for me,” she says. “That’s why so many other people who watch the show feel like it’s healing for them. We cussin’ and we laughin’, but we also digging deep and we’re talking about stuff. In the second season, we really went there. I probably cried three episodes [in] the first season. I probably cried eight this season.”
Healing through humor is how Ms. Pat wins. The NAACP Award-nominated author has a multi-genre overall deal with BET+ where she is already working on season three of her show and hoping to expand into film. Meanwhile, attendees at the Improv will surely be entertained by the comedy queen who laments not being able to steal from convenience stores now that she’s recognizable while simultaneously reveling in doing things her way.
“I do have to take a step back and say, ‘Wow. I’m sharing all this personal stuff with the world. How are people gonna look at me?’” Williams admits. “Well, I stopped worrying about that and I said, ‘This is for the people who understand this, and everybody else can go to Hell.”
Ms. Pat performs at DC Improv on Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. and Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. dcimprov-com. $30–$40.