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. It was there where she developed "Pat" and caught the attention of NBC, which found a place for her on their venerable breeding ground for comic talent, Saturday Night Live.
Sweeney, like fellow cast members Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, was given the opportunity to star in a spin-off feature of her very own, called It's Pat. Released in 1994, the film was a massive failure, dumped in only select cities and roundly panned by national critics, who deemed it juvenile and unfunny. The film was reportedly rewritten by close pal Quentin Tarantino, who cast her that same year 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. Though it was a vanishing act on Broadway, God Said, Ha! opened up a new door for Sweeney, who won raves for her brave, funny monologues and earned the respect of peers who were displeased by her previous film work. The film, unlike the work of her television contemporaries, was serious and deeply personal yet quite humorous, perfectly capturing the spirit of Sweeney's unique performance style. Sweeney has also remained active in TV, providing the voice ofMargo for the series The Goode Family.