‘SNL’ Alum Talks Sophisticated Legacy Of Enjoying Androgynous Icon Pat – The Boston Courier


Comic and actor Julia Sweeney says criticism of her recurring “Saturday Night Live” character Pat broke her coronary heart, earlier than she was informed years later how empowering some folks discovered the bit.

Sweeney, who was on “SNL” from 1990 to 1994, seemed again on Pat’s legacy whereas chatting with Folks journal throughout a panel celebrating the present’s upcoming fiftieth anniversary and the function the Groundlings improv theater performed in its historical past.

Throughout her 4 seasons on “SNL,” the actor often starred in sketches as Pat, a nerdy however candy character whose gender ambiguity was the primary joke. Different characters within the sketches would attempt to suss out Pat’s gender, at all times to no avail.

Whereas Sweeney noticed Pat as somebody who embraced their androgyny, she stated the character initially drew criticism from folks within the queer group, together with her good friend, “Transparent” creator Joey Soloway.

“There were some people in particular… saying that Pat was derogatory towards nonbinary people and that it was really an upsetting thing as a person of indeterminate gender herself or themselves to even see Pat,” recalled Sweeney, who additionally performed the character within the critically reviled 1994 film “It’s Pat.”

Roseanne Barr seems reverse Julia Sweeney as Pat throughout a 1991 sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” Sweeney seemed again on her character’s legacy in a brand new interview with Folks.

The “Work in Progress” actor admitted that Soloway’s criticism “just broke my heart, because I felt that I carefully wrote all the jokes to be about the people’s uncomfortableness with Pat, not Pat being uncomfortable with Pat’s self.”

“To me it was an empowering nonbinary thing — and that it was perceived that way was very upsetting,” Sweeney, who has by no means confirmed Pat’s gender, went on.

Through the years, nonetheless, Sweeney discovered that many nonbinary and transgender comedians recognized with Pat, discovering the character a uncommon illustration of somebody who didn’t conform to conventional gender roles.

Final month, Sweeney met with a group of trans comedy writers to see how she might “reinvent” Pat. She stated she left the assembly feeling “proud” of what she dropped at the world with the character.

“A lot of the people who were there, well, all of them loved Pat,” Sweeney informed Folks. “They were little kids when they saw Pat and felt that was a transformative thing for them to see.”

“For me, that was so emotional,” she added. “And when I left, I was really crying all the way home, because I felt like for the first time in 30 years, I felt proud of Pat.”

Sweeney stated speaking to the group of trans comics made her understand how a lot Pat meant to many individuals, letting her go away the assembly with a brand new perspective.

“Now I feel like, Oh, no. It was good and it was important, and now all these trans people that I met, this group of 10, all told me how important it was for me to have done that,” she stated. “So now I feel, okay, that was okay.”

Final 12 months, Sweeney informed her fellow “SNL” alums Dana Carvey and David Spade how she’d change her method if she have been ever to reprise the function of Pat.

“If I did it again, I would make Pat more enigmatic and make it clear that it was about the other people and not Pat,” she stated throughout an look on the “Fly on the Wall” podcast. “Almost more Charlie Chaplin-esque. Like, just people ― not talking much. Just about everyone else’s reactions.”

“Not that Pat, the character Pat, is anything like the Charlie Chaplin character,” she informed Carvey and Spade. “But that the way [Chaplin] was enigmatic, and let everyone else be reacting to him while he was doing physical things, would have been the way I think it could have succeeded.”

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