Julia Sweeney

Photo — Brent Nicastro Photo — Brent Nicastro

On this date in 1961, comedian and author Julia Sweeney was born in Spokane, Wash., into a devout Roman Catholic family. For much of her childhood, she wanted to be a nun. After majoring in economic studies at the University of Washington, Julia instead became an accountant for Columbia Pictures and United Artists. Having a knack for comedy and mimicry, Julia signed up for a class with the improvisational comedy troupe, "The Groundlings," where she was discovered by "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels. She was on that show for four hit seasons, from 1990-1994, and introduced the popular character, "Androgynous Pat." In 1994, Julia made the movie, "It's Pat." After her brother, Michael, then Julia, were both diagnosed with cancer, she wrote and starred in the play, "God Said, Ha!" The film version won the Golden Space Needle Award for best director and the recording was nominated for a Grammy. She has made frequent TV guest appearances, served as a creative consultant on "Sex and the City," and has appeared in many movies, including "Clockstoppers" (2002), "Beethoven's 4th" (2001), "Beethoven's 3rd" (2000), "Stuart Little" (1999), "Pulp Fiction" (1994), "Coneheads" (1993), and "Honey, I Blew Up the Kids" (1992). Her very funny monolog about adopting her daughter from China, "In the Family Way," debuted in 2003. In October 2004 she debuted her newest monolog, "Letting Go of God," about her journey from Roman Catholic schoolgirl to atheist, and is working on a book of the same title for Henry Holt & Co. Her goal for the book is that it make it into the "inspirational" section in airport bookstores: "Why isn't there a book about someone losing their faith and it being this beautiful experience?" she asked The Los Angeles Times (May 1, 2003). For information on booking tickets for this fabulous and scathingly brilliant play, go to her website.

“It took me years, but letting go of religion has been the most profound wake up of my life. I feel I now look at the world not as a child, but as an adult. I see what's bad and it's really bad. But I also see what is beautiful, what is wonderful. And I feel so deeply appreciative that I am alive. How dare the religious use the term 'born again.' That truly describes freethinkers who've thrown off the shackles of religion so much better!”

—Quote submitted by Julia Sweeney. For more about Julia Sweeney, go to ethought-comedienne-of-the-year-award/

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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