- After escaping an abusive marriage in her early 20s, she worked as a waitress and was encouraged to try stand-up comedy at local clubs around Texas.
- Relocated to New York, where she subsequently made her first comedic appearance on The Tonight Show in 1987.
- Broke into television with a stint writing for ABC's variety show Dolly (1987-88), starring Dolly Parton.
- Headlined the ABC sitcom Grace Under Fire (1993-98) until production of the series was forced to shut down reportedly due to her decision to enter rehab a second time to face substance-abuse issues.
- In 1996, her autobiography, Knee Deep in Paradise, was published.