Who’s That? It’s Pat . . . and Jill

Former SNL star and UW grad Julia Sweeney returns to Seattle with her friend, Jill Sobule.

Julia Sweeney and Jill Sobule make a great couple. You remember Sweeney and Sobule. The former was introduced to the masses as Pat, the androgynous character she created on Saturday Night Live from 1990–94. She’s since become one of the most celebrated, thought-provoking monologists in the business, penning three one-woman plays: God Said Ha!, In the Family Way, and Letting Go of God. The latter is the clever creator of  ’90s hits including “I Kissed a Girl” (the precursor to Katy Perry’s Chapstick-stained anthem of that name) and “Supermodel” (of Clueless fame).

The duo formed when Sweeney and Sobule met at a Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in Monterey, Calif. That ignited a friendship between neighbors—they discovered they lived only blocks apart in Los Angeles—and grew into a creative partnership when Sobule invited Sweeney to perform with her at a local club. The two would go on to perform at the 2008 TED conference, and later decide to take the show on the road.

“I love [Jill’s] music. I love her lyrics, I love her voice,” says Sweeney about why she decided to pursue the collaboration. “There’s something that’s really vulnerable yet really strong. I like that she’s so smart. Her lyrics are so intelligent. They always make me laugh and feel strange at the same time; I just love that combination.”

Talking to Sobule, you’ll find the admiration is mutual—something both women attribute to a similar outlook on life. “[Julia] can do that kind of goofy, funny, slapsticky thing. But she’s also really smart and poignant,” Sobule says. “And she can make something funny that underneath is really sad and depressing.”

For the most part, Sweeney’s anecdotes are directly inspired by songs Sobule has already written. As for the musical aspect of the show, Sweeney says that’s all up to Sobule. “I tried to do a tambourine once. And I tried to do a drum once—an Irish drum,” Sweeney says. “But I think I’d need to stop and practice for about 10 years before I could really play onstage.”

Ultimately, the pair concedes, they do the show because it gives them an opportunity to entertain people. “You’re seeing two friends enjoy each other onstage, and I think that kind of radiates out,” Sobule says. “Like I’m as amused as the audience is when she’s telling her stories. And I know she’s a fan girl of my songs.”

That said, Sweeney admits it’s more nerve-wracking to perform stories in front of the people who often inspire them. The Seattle show will be a homecoming of sorts for Sweeney, who grew up in Spokane and later graduated from UW.

“I’m not sure if I can even identify a Northwest sensibility that’s in my creativity, but I think it is there,” Sweeney says. “I think a lot about Washington state. And I feel very grounded and at home there.” The Neptune, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org/neptune. $20. 8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 13.

music@seattleweekly.com

 
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