Kate Stone

Kate Stone

Why Sister Mary Patrick is a Comedy Icon

When it comes to female characters there appears to be an odd belief that there are few examples of them in comedy, specifically examples who could be held up as comedic role models. I seem to have some extra time on my hands right now and rather than rearrange my wardrobe I have decided to dedicate an essay each to the fictional girls and women who deserve more recognition for their comedy.

The only comedy musical better than Sister Act is Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Fact. Why? Because in the sequel they were able to augment the already perfect cast with some monks (every film should have at least one monk) and Lauryn Hill.* But also because Sister Mary Patrick is in both. I reckon she invented the phrase ‘terminally delightful’ before Ben De La Creme swanned onto RuPaul’s Drag Race.

A character type I usually find annoying, Sister Mary Patrick is perky with a capital p. Perky. However, she combines her perkiness with a refreshing charm not usually paired with such unalloyed joy.

While there isn’t anyone who lets the side down in these films, when I think of Sister Act I think Whoopi Goldberg (duh) and I think Sister Mary Patrick. Sister Mary Patrick singing at the top of her voice in choir, Sister Mary Patrick asking the class to define ‘promiscuity’, Sister Mary Patrick having a good old time of it in a Vegas casino.

It’s so rare you have a character in film, especially a woman, who is pleased with their life and enjoys themselves. I’m wracking my brain right now and the only one I can think of right now is the lady who yells “it’s just fun!” at Mike Myers and his new wife in So I Married an Axe Murderer as the pair are hoisted onto a chair and carried to the honeymoon suite.

Apparently Kathy Najimy, who plays Sister Mary Patrick based her nun on an Entertainment Tonight host and she balances out her quiet counter-part Sister Mary Robert perfectly. She’s never overbearing, just overenthusiastic and is that a crime? I think not.

Clearly quite a lot of thought went into Najimy’s character, as my research (Google) revealed that in the original script Sister Mary Patrick protests a pornographic book store. However Najimby didn’t think her nun would do that and for what it’s worth, nor do I. Sister Mary Patrick wants to joyfully bring everyone up, not shame them.

While this nun doesn’t have an edge so to speak, she’s pretty steely. She defends Sister Mary Clarence, insists the nuns venture into Vegas to find her and she isn’t afraid to go out into the rough community the convent is based in. Her comedy doesn’t come from side-swipes but simply seeing the good side in everything. We don’t get that enough in comedy and we certainly need it now. Amen.

*Also, here’s a fun fact, Carrie Fisher helped doctor the script.

If you have a character you’d like to suggest for this, then tweet me @funnywomened

Read why Dionne Davenport is a comedy icon here!

Read why Megan Bloomfield is a comedy icon here!

Read why Miss Piggy is a comedy icon here!

Read why Aunt Hilda is a comedy icon here!

Read why Maddy Magellan is a comedy icon here!

Read why Elizabeth Cronin is a comedy icon here!

Read why Jane Lane is a comedy icon here!

Read why Lisa Landry is a comedy icon here!

Read why Dorothy Zbornak is a comedy icon here!

Read why Anne Shirley is a comedy icon here!

Read why Wednesday Addams is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Marmalade Atkins is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Tracy Beaker is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Daria Morgendorffer is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Anastasia Krupnik is a comedy icon here! 

Read why Helga Pataki is a comedy icon here!

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