Best Bets: Aunt Mary Pat taking Pride in Dover

Aunt Mary Pat DiSabatino, aka Troy Hendrickson of Wilmington, will entertain at Saturday’s Pride Festival in Dover with comedy and music at 1 p.m. The free festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Legislative Mall and will be preceded by Delaware’s first Pride Parade on Loockerman Street at 9 a.m. (Submitted photo)

She loves her Iggles; has to have her “smoke and a Coke” and a shot of Fireball whiskey; works as the assistant customer service manager “down at the Ac(a)me”; and thinks Wawa’s Hoagiefest is better than Christmas.

She’s Aunt Mary Pat DiSabatino and she’s headed to Dover on Saturday for the Delaware Pride Festival.

The middle-aged Delaware County, Pennsylvania, native is embodied by thirtysomething Troy Hendrickson of Wilmington and he’s been taking social media and YouTube by storm for over a year now.

With a trademark “Hey youse guys. Aunt Mary Pat here. Hope you’re doing good,” Aunt Mary Pat has been making her legions of followers laugh as they follow her travails with her husband Larry and “(bleep)hole daughter Kelly” as she talks about her marriage, her job at the grocery story and various encounters at the Wawa, all done with an accent that anyone who has ever spent anytime north of New Castle County will instantly recognize.

The phenomenon of Aunt Mary Pat has generated over 63,000 followers on Facebook and a just-released album called “Talk of the Township,” which is climbing its way up the iTunes comedy chart.

A performer by nature, Mr. Hendrickson is a graduate of the Cab Calloway School for the Arts in Wilmington, having grown up in the Prices Corner area of the city.

A noted drag performer in the Philadelphia and Wilmington areas, known as Miss Troy, Mr. Hendrickson’s persona as Aunt Mary Pat started as “a happy accident.”

The night the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, Feb. 4. 2018, he called his mother, Susan, who he knew would be ecstatic. Turns out she was already out shopping for Super Bowl apparel and was indeed excited over the big victory.

“So the next day I made this video making fun of my mom, never anticipating that a whole lot of people would see it, maybe just my funny friends,” he said.

“But it got a pretty decent following.”

So he made the video public and soon created a dedicated Aunt Mary Pat Facebook page. Two days later, the video had attracted 30,000 views.

Now his approximately two-minute routines regularly garner hundreds of thousands of views.

At first his mother had a hard time with it.

“She was a little ticked off at me for mocking her. As soon as I put it up, she said ‘Everyone is going to know you’re doing me.’ But over time, she has embraced it,” he said.

Although his mother grew up in Elsmere, her whole family is from Delaware County and Mr. Hendrickson worked in the Delaware County area for about 10 years, at Goodwill and Chuck E. Cheese, so he picked up the accent and all of the local in-jokes pretty well.

In May of last year after balancing going to Wilmington University to study video game design and working for the state of Delaware, Mr. Hendrickson decided to get into the Aunt Mary Pat business full-time.

He booked a small bar in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, for a meet and greet and was shocked when 250 people were there to see him with a line out the door.

“It was insane. The place had reached capacity. It was overwhelming to see that level of interest.”

But eventually it wasn’t enough to just walk into venues and say hi. More was asked of him (and Aunt Mary Pat).

“I was booked to do a fundraiser for Parkinson’s (research) and was told I had to do a standup routine. I said ‘I don’t do that.’ I had never done standup in my life. But they told me ‘Just go out there and talk. Everyone will love it.’ From there I developed a standup act and took it on tour. Basically you learn as you go,” he said.

After the standup act came the music — again in a very unexpected way.

“A songwriter, Ken Sullivan, approached me. He’s a huge fan of the character and said she reminds him of his mom. He lives in Boston now but he’s from North Philly,” Mr. Hendrickson said.

“He sent me a demo of a song ‘Doin’ Good.’ I loved it. We recorded it. We put it out there and it went to No. 12 on the iTunes Dance chart. It’s had about 41,000 streams on Spotify and Apple Music. Then I got the bug to do more music,” he said.

“I’ve always loved musical comedy. It’s so much fun. I’ve always wanted to sing but never had a great voice. This was the perfect way to be able to do that through these parody songs.”

A Kickstarter to raise money for a full album was started on Aunt Mary Pat’s website (AuntMaryPat.net) and within a month, $5,200 had been raised, allowing production on “Talk of the Township,” which was released last Friday.

The song “Touchdown,” with producer Sweet Teeth, went to No. 1 on the iTunes Comedy Singles chart. Other songs on the album include “Down the Shore,” “Party Party Party” and “The Hoagie Song.”

Aunt Mary Pat’s act now, which she will perform from 1 to 1:30 p.m. during the Pride Festival on Legislative Mall, consists of one-half standup and the other half music.

If you miss Aunt Mary Pat Saturday, she’ll be at the Milton Theatre July 17 for a show that’s selling out fast. That’s the farthest south Aunt Mary Pat will have performed but there are plans to take her national.

“We’ve gotten requests from New York City, Florida, LA, South Carolina, even Australia, Guam and the UK. They may not get all of the jokes but some people don’t care,” Mr. Hendrickson said.

He said this whirlwind experience of being Aunt Mary Pat has been as rewarding as it has been unexpected.

“I get hundreds of messages per day from people just saying ‘Thank you so much.’ Whether it’s been a bad day, or a chemo treatment or a rough doctor’s appointment, people seem to appreciate what I do,” Mr. Hendrickson.

“I had one lady who lost her husband and she said ‘You keep me going, laughing.’ It’s so amazing. I find it funny how many kids like the songs and they come up to me and hug me. It just inspires you to pay it forward.”

First Pride parade

The Delaware Pride Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Legislative Mall. But before that will be Delaware’s first Pride Parade at 9 a.m.

It will start at the intersection of South West and Loockerman streets, continuing down Loockerman, turning right onto Federal Street and ending at Martin Luther King Boulevard South at the festival.

There will be more than 40 participants in the parade.

The festival will feature over 100 vendors, 17 entertainers and eight food trucks. This event attracts over 3,500 people from the tri-state area and is the largest single LGBT event in Delaware.

The event, hosted by New York City comedian Robb Coles, will feature drag performers, bands including Hoochi Coochi, the CAMP Rehoboth Chorus and an appearance by comedian Julia Scotti, who was featured on TV’s “America’s Got Talent,” winding up the day at 4:30 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester will also address the crowd at 1:45 p.m.

Delaware Pride was officially formed on April 29, 1997. Through the years, the Delaware Pride Festival has been held in New Castle County, Sussex County and most recently Dover since 2014.

Everyone is welcome. For more information, visit DelawarePride.org.

Rainbow Chorale Sunday

The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware will perform its spring concert “Feel the Love,” described as a musical celebration of family and friends, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Second and Market streets in Lewes, on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Established in 1999, the chorale, composed of more than 30 male and female voices, is an inclusive, nonprofit community chorus that provides LGBTQ individuals and their friends an opportunity to present music and serve as positive voices for change.

The concert, which is split into two parts with an intermission, will feature selections from Broadway shows, including “Hair,” “Wicked,” “The Wiz,” “The Lion King,” “Kinky Boots” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” as well as songs from singer-songwriters Katy Perry, Paul Simon and Elton John, and personal stories told by chorale members themselves.

Some songs will broach the subjects of death and suicide with the hope of bringing awareness to these issues and finding help for people struggling with depression. The chorale will perform Minneapolis composer Jake Runstead’s “Please Stay,” an anthem composed to destigmatize mental illness and encourage support for persons who battle depression and thoughts of suicide.

Sponsored by the St. Cecilia Guild, an outreach ministry of the church’s music program, this concert concludes the guild’s 2018–19 season that has offered to Eastern Sussex County residents music not heard elsewhere in the area. All concerts are free.

“Through our music and public presence, our goal is to inspire individuals to be catalysts for change and positive role models for LGBTQ youth, said Simone Novaes-Card, the Rainbow Chorale’s president. “We are especially grateful to the St. Cecilia Guild for sponsoring our concert and giving us the opportunity to bring our music to a new audience.”

Now Showing

New to theaters this weekend is the film “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” This movie features an uncredited appearance by Dover’s own John Bubniak as Aerialist Webber.

Also new this weekend is the horror movie “Ma” and the Elton John biopic “Rocketman.”

New on DVD and download starting Tuesday is “A Madea Family Funeral.” This film features Dover native Courtney Burrell.

Other films released next week include Julianne Moore in “Gloria Bell” and Ethan Hawke in the Western “The Kid.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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