Best known to audiences as the androgynous, nerdy “Pat” from Saturday Night Live, where she was a cast member from 1990 to 1994, Julia Sweeney actually began her comedy career as an accountant, of all things. Working as a numbers-cruncher for Columbia Pictures in the mid-’80s, Sweeney ignored her degree in economics to pursue comedy. In 1986, she joined the Groundlings, the famous L.A. improvisational troupe that also produced success stories like Conan O’Brien and Lisa Kudrow.
Quentin Tarantino cast her in 1994 in a small role opposite Harvey Keitel in his Oscar-winning film Pulp Fiction. Tarantino then executive-produced what was arguably the most important work of Sweeney’s career: “God Said, Ha!,” a film version of her one-woman Broadway show detailing her “cancer year,” in which she and her now-deceased brother Mike battled the deadly disease. Sweeney has also appeared on the big screen in Clockstoppers, Whatever It Takes, and Stuart Little. In 2004, Sweeney co-starred in two episodes of Frasier and had a guest role on Sex and the City. Sweeney’s 1993 impression of Chelsea Clinton caused somewhat of a stir when Hillary Clinton found it offensive and sent an angry letter to Studio 8H.
Sweeney recently filmed her one-woman show “Letting Go of God,” about her renunciation of the religious beliefs she was raised with. Sweeney, an atheist, in “Letting Go of God,” discusses her Catholic upbringing, early religious ideology, and the life events and internal search that led her to believe that the universe can function on its own without a deity to preside over it. In 2006, Sweeney was awarded the Richard Dawkins Award and the American Humanist Association‘s “Humanist Pioneer” award, and joined the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America.