Okay, like most folks in the Tri-State area, I watched all 7 episodes of “Mare of Easttown” and not just because I have a starring role in the film. In episode 3, at 35 minutes in, you can see me wearing sunglasses and a beret for about all of 3 seconds. Woo hoo! It was a pretty big accomplishment considering that even though they had hundreds of extras that day and filmed several scenes over the course of 12 hours, including one in which Mare breaks up a fight, only about 3 minutes made it to air. But I digress.
One of the best things to come out of the show were the many skits spoofing the infamous Delco accent. SNL had a pretty great one with Kate McKinnon in the title row, but the one that made me laugh the most was from this week’s portrait, Troy Hendrickson. Hendrickson is a comedian who has been making light of the Delco accent ever since he donned a wig and created his hysterical alter ego, Aunt Mary Pat, loosely based on his mother. He will be hosting the Here and Queer: Under the Dome comedy show on August 4th. Troy will be performing as himself and introducing his fellow queer comics, Alejandro Morales, Emma Willmann, and Jessica Kirson.
Since 2011, Hendrickson has been working as a professional drag queen under the name “Miss Troy.” Miss Troy has been a headliner for Annapolis Pride, Delaware Pride and Philly Pride. In 2018, Troy’s “Aunt Mary Pat” video went viral online. It was a breakthrough moment which allowed him to start his own entertainment business and headline a national comedy tour.
Troy has released several different comedy songs that went to #1 on the iTunes comedy charts and has been named the Best of Delco and Delaware Reader’s Choice 2019 for best comedian. In 2020, Troy won Best of Delaware award for comedy/social media personality. I spoke to Troy about comedy and life as a dad with a son & durder (see the skit).
Tell me the story of Little Troy Hendrickson. Where are you from? Who’s in the family? What did or do the parents do?
I am from Wilmington, DE. I grew up in a very traditional family — mom, dad, brother and sister. I was the middle child so I was always doing things for attention, I was also into performing.
Were you an outgoing kid? Or shy?
Always very outgoing!
What’s something that you did as a family?
We listened to a lot of music, it was a big part of our household. Lot’s of karaoke singing, and dancing. One year we got a video camera for Christmas and I loved making little short movies with my brother. We were a performance driven family. We were always trying to make each other laugh.
What were your favorite games to play? Board games at home or stickball in the street?
I was much more into video games: Super Mario, Pokémon, etc, and I still love them! I was never athletic.
What things did you excel at in school and which things were disastrous?
I was into the arts and English, writing… but math? Forget about it.
I read that you went to Cab Calloway School of the Arts, did you have to start each day saying, “Hi-De-Ho?” How is his legacy preserved?
It was a normal school as far as the day to day, but with the added focus on the arts. [Laughing] Lots of warm ups, just not that one!
What are 3 of the best things you’ve won?
I won most promising actor in 8th grade, I won an award for my short film in college, and I won a best of Delaware award for best social media.
When and how did you come out?
I came out at 15, by writing a letter to my mom.
How did that go?
My mom’s boyfriend at the time had a daughter who was openly gay and she was a role model for me. She told me, if you’re too afraid to say it, write it down in a letter and as I was writing it, my mom came home and read it. It sparked a conversation that was emotional for both of us but it made our relationship just grow stronger. From there my mom pretty much told everyone and it wasn’t a big deal. I was very lucky in the fact that my family was always very accepting, it was a very liberating thing.
Who is Miss Troy and tell me what her show is like? Do you sing or dance or tell jokes?
Miss Troy is my drag alter ego. She’s a glamorous hot mess. I mainly tell jokes and do impersonations. I do Big Ang from Housewives, Celine Dion, I love doing Mariah Carey, I do Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Cher. My favorite thing is doing the makeup and making sure I change my entire look so that I can embody them in both mannerisms and looks. But in a humorous way!
What were some of your best and worst moments as Miss Troy?
I hate losing things and I’ve lost a lot of competitions! Well, I just lose a lot of things in general, but I try not to focus on that. My best moment was probably performing at Outfest, hosting PRIDEZILLA, and when I won best comedy queen in Philly!
Tell me about the origins of Aunt Mary Pat, what was your mom’s first reaction?
She was born as a joke making fun of my mom and her reaction after the Eagles, (or Iggles) won the Super Bowl. I uploaded it to my personal page and it went viral! Then it went from videos to live performances. At first my mom was mad that I was making fun of her, but she grew to love it quickly.
What is something you’ve done that made her say, “Now I don’t do that?” when she really does! Or a time she thinks you pushed it too far.
It’s more usually ‘I can’t believe you included that in your act!’ But she still tells me everything.
What’s the funniest reaction you’ve gotten from people?
I love when people have a good time with the character. Funniest? I was hired for a 3 years old’s birthday party.
What’s the craziest heckling moment you’ve had?
There was one lady at a show who got so excited to meet me she tried to bum rush the stage, but there were so many people around she couldn’t get through. She almost fell over but fortunately her son caught her before she hit the floor. She was very determined, but luckily she didn’t make it.
What celebrity would you want as a comedy partner?
Sarah Silverman. She’s my favorite comedian of all time. Her standup specials like, “Jesus is Magic” really inspire my stage show. She often says that when she does stand-up, she’s in character, a caricature of herself, which I can relate to and I like how she includes musical shorts in her shows.
Let’s talk about Kate Winslet’s accent. To me, all she did was curse and passed that off as Delco. Why weren’t you hired to coach her!?!
Still asking myself that! And if I heard them say “hoagie” one more time I was going to scream! But overall, it wasn’t bad, it’s a hard accent to get. It’s funny, I went to college in Chicago and got teased about my accent so I tried really hard to change it. And now 10 years later, I make my living off of the accent I tried to get rid of!
I laugh out loud every time you say Ak-a-me (Acme). What are 5 Delco/Philly words or phrases that tickle you?
Hoagie, Jimmies, Liberry, Crick, and Wooder!
How much of your new material is made up and how much of it are real situations with your mom and the family?
It’s about a 50/50 mix honestly.
What does your partner Danny do? What’s something he probably wishes you wouldn’t do!
He’s an elementary art teacher. He probably wishes my sets were shorter. [Laughing] He knows my material by heart by the end of the tour.
What are some of the non-profit organizations you’ve been involved in or supported that mean a lot to you?
I love fundraising for the Attic Youth Center and working with the Headstrong foundation.
Talk to me about being a daddy…
It’s a job I always wanted but never realized how hard it was. I love being a dad though. It’s so nice to see your children accomplish things.
Do you worry about them being teased at school, either for Aunt Mary or for having gay dads?
No I don’t, because this is a new world. And I’ve met their friends and all families look different now. I’m actually grateful for how much it’s changed.
Have you ever faced any specific instances of homophobia?
I think we all do at times. Especially with Aunt Mary Pat, I’ve read nasty comments about me, but I honestly try to focus on the positive and educate people when I can.
What’s your favorite art piece from each of the kids?
Liam is not big into art, but he’s always showing us his video game accomplishments. Bella’s art is everywhere in the house. I like when she makes us bracelets, I’ll wear them until they break.
Who’s the strict parent and who’s the pushover?
I’m definitely the strict one, Danny is much more of a pushover.
What worries you as a parent?
I worry that I’ve let them down in some way. But I think they know they can always count on us and talk to us about anything.
How did you end up with more animals than people in your home?
I never had pets growing up, not until I was in high school. So I always wanted pets. And I am such a sucker at the faithful friends window in Petco. I can’t say no to a cat in need of a home.
What performer would you bring back to life for one more performance?
Aretha Franklin. I never got to see her live. She was performing in the area once and I didn’t get tickets in time, it’s one of my biggest regrets. I love her so much.
What Olympic sport would Aunt Pat compete in?
The beer chugging competition
A sentimental item you wouldn’t sell if someone offered you $1000?
Any piece in my Mariah Carey collection!
You’re a big reader, what book would you put in a time capsule?
Definitely the “His Dark Materials” series: Golden Compass, Subtle Knife, Amber Spyglass, and the newer ones La Belle Sauvage and The Secret Commonwealth. Amazing, thought provoking stuff!
Something one of the kids did that made you laugh out loud?
My daughter Bella was watching me wash my face and saw me spray a mist on when I was finished. She asked, “Oh, what’s that for?” and I told her that it was to help me stay looking young and beautiful and she remarked, “Well, clearly it’s not working…”
Your biggest smallest heckler, I love it!
Yeah, she’s sassy!
What’s it feel like to be in front of an audience and make people laugh?
It’s funny, I feel so much more comfortable and confident on stage than one on one with people, especially someone I don’t know. But I can be in front of a roomful of strangers and not feel one ounce of nerves. Comedy is different because it’s usually just you and your words in an otherwise quiet room. You’re out there alone and you have to bring your audience in.
Do you have to have a good memory to do comedy?
Yeah, you have to know your material and the timing, and be able to tell the same jokes in a way that’s comfortable and natural so it doesn’t look like you’re thinking about what you’re saying. When I start a tour, I usually have a cheat sheet to help me keep my place, but after the 4th or 5th show, I’ve got it down pat without needing notes.
Who else is performing with you on the 4th and how did that come about?
My manager, Joel Richardson owns the club. He opened the club in 2019 and Mary Pat sold out 4 shows there. After the pandemic he built the dome and moved the club outside, and it’s been super successful. We just did Pridezilla there which was the only local outdoor Pride Festival, and we sold out and had 400 people. I can’t wait for this show, it’ll be my first time to host as myself instead of a character. We will have Alejandro Morales who is a wonderful local comedian. I’ve known him for a while and he’s going to be wonderful. Jessica Kirson is a nationally touring artist and very funny, and Emma Willmann is another wonderful comedian. I’m so excited for it and to showcase more LGBTQ artists in the area.
For show information, visit https://nightout.com/events/lgbtq-0804/tickets/.