(TriceEdneyWire.com)—I don’t often write about comedians, but the recent passing of my friend Dick Gregory reminded me of the very important role that comedians play in our lives. Not that Gregory was simply a comedian. He was so much more than that—a civil rights activist, leader, amazing speaker, holistic health practitioner, and so much more. It was in thinking of him that I picked up the book, Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat a hot, relatively new comedian who uses her dysfunctional early life as fodder for her comedy.
Ms. Pat, also known as Patricia Williams says that her daughter frequently threatens to put her in an old folk home, but she says that’s because her daughter is only 13 years younger than she is, they will be in the old folks home together. Funny? Maybe. Tragic? For sure. After all, Ms. Williams had her first child by a married man 8 years her senior when she was 13 years old. By 15, she had two children, a daughter and son, by the married man who was a habitual cheat.
While her story is not typical, it is also not unusual. And it would be the foundation for some sociologist’s (consider the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan) tale of pathology in the African American community. Ms. Pat’s story bears retelling, not because of its pathology, but because she has been able to find the humor in it. Her book tells her story so effectively that you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream, or shake her. It’s a redemptive story of a woman who, by 20, had been to jail for drug-dealing (but not for using), had held jobs as a waitress, factory worker, gas station worker, and then moved up to a house near a pond in an Indianapolis suburb, earning her living as a comedian. (They don’t check your background for doing standup, she says).