The “Aunt Mary Pat DiSabatino” comedy train keeps on chugging, much as the titular character does with her favorite wine, Franzia. With sold-out performances all over the mid-Atlantic, comedian and drag performer Troy Hendrickson doesn’t get much of a break from full-time performing these days. We asked this Cab Calloway School of the Arts graduate what holidays are like for him and his family in Wilmington…and we asked Aunt Mary Pat the same!
IN: Troy, what are the holidays like around your house? Do you entertain guests?
Troy Hendrickson: I’m a very festive person. I love the holidays, they’re a big deal. My mom (Susan, whom Troy and his siblings call “The Suze,” the widely-reported inspiration for Aunt Mary Pat’s voice, phrases and tastes) made a huge to-do about them and I carried that over to my family, too.
My partner, Danny, loves decorating and I’m more the celebratory one. I enjoy spending time with family, gift giving and being in full-blown holiday mode. It’s not just like a day for us.
IN: What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
TH: We just got an Elf on a Shelf, which is a huge thing for my daughter, Bella. It had to be the girl elf. She had to have it. I’m kind of disappointed she named it “Lollipop Bubblegum,” which would not have been my choice. She’s five, so she definitely still believes. My son Liam is 13; he’s just a cool teenager right now.
That’s probably my favorite part of the holidays: the magic of Santa, counting down and getting ready for Christmas.
IN: Mary Pat, what’s your favorite holiday tradition?
Aunt Mary Pat DiSabatino: Spikin’ the eggnog and drinkin’ til I pass out on the couch, until the holidays are done.
IN: What do you like to see on a holiday table?
TH: I’m a big fan of lights and a full-holiday-decorated table with a tablecloth and centerpiece, gifts and food. Even now, at my mom’s house, the kitchen table is covered with cookies and sweets. She just replenishes it every day. My memory is just seeing that table covered with cookies all month long.
AMP: Boxes of Franzia and a ham.
IN: What is your most prized holiday possession?
TH: It’s at my mom’s house, not mine. It’s something she acquired when her great aunt Katie – we call her Aunt Grannie – passed. She was well-to-do and had all kinds of fancy decorations in the fifties and sixties.
She had a pixie-elf chime in her kitchen, and you were allowed to pull the chime once a year. Since it’s been at my mom’s, she put it up one year and never took it down. It’s been up for six years now.
I’m a little sad – in the 1960s, there were these pixie-elves that were bendable. I remember having them as a kid. Like Elf on a Shelf but made of felt, with plastic faces. I hid them in my room; I never wanted to wait for Christmas to play with them. I’ve been searching on Ebay and I can’t find the exact ones. They were also a gift of Aunt Grannie. It’s why we are so festive: Aunt Grannie made the holidays over the top.
AMP: Alone time.
IN: What do you bring to other people’s homes as host or hostess gifts?
TH: Usually Danny is a better gift giver than I am. He loves giving, and wraps so beautifully, the wrap job is almost the gift. We usually bring a candle and maybe a bottle of wine.
AMP: Fireball and maybe a Wawa gift card or somethin’ like that.
IN: What are a few ways you manage to stay stress-free over the holidays?
TH: I get stressed so easily. I’ll get a facial. I highly recommend it.
I’m not sure I’ve said this in an interview before, but I am a huge video game nerd. I’m into Nintendo and am hooked on Pokemon right now. Super Smash Bros. comes out this week. I disappear into my video game world and try not to think about things for a while.
I’m also a huge proponent of having a glass of wine or ten.
AMP: I walk out and have a smoke and a Coke, hun.
IN: How do you decorate your home over the holidays? What is your tree like?
TH: I’m kind of like – I don’t wanna say tacky – I would over-decorate. I want decorations everywhere. Things that don’t fit any specific theme. I recently went to Marshall’s and since I never had any nutcrackers, I bought two. Danny’s like classic-classy Christmas.
This year, our tree is country classic. I gave in and let Danny get an artificial tree. As a trade-off for not getting a real tree, I got the Super Mario star as a topper.
AMP: I get Lar to throw up all the twinklin’ lights all over the house. I’ve got blow-up ornaments in the yard.
I need a real tree; I can’t do the fake s--t. But because Larry cut it down, it’s uneven, so the uneven part is in the back. I like rainbow lights, tinsel and strings of popcorn.
IN: In the home, which is your favorite room?
TH: The living room. Everyone hangs out there and I love, love, love Christmas movies. I love being around the tree. Some days I just sit around and look at the tree because it’s so beautiful.
I love “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” – I’ll probably watch it thirty times before the end of the year. The smell of the tree, the decorations.
AMP: The kitchen, so I can kick people out of it. I can hang out and be closer to the Franzia box.
IN: What kind of music do you play during dinner or parties?
TH: I am the biggest Mariah Carey fan of all time. This time of year is especially good for me because I love, love, love her Christmas albums.
I keep adding, adding, adding music to my collection. I have a thousand Christmas songs, like four days’ worth. I love Christmas music.
Every year I take mom to Mariah’s Christmas show in New York, and this year she didn’t do it. I’m kind of depressed about that. I want to find something else to do in New York.
AMP: I would normally say Mariah Carey, up until the release of my new Christmas song, “All I Need for Christmas Is Me.”
TH: She’s got the voice of an angel
Hendrickson described the recording of Aunt Mary Pat’s single, which reached the number four spot on the iTunes comedy chart by December 1. (A previous single, “Doin’ Good,” reached the number twelve spot this summer.) It was recorded in Hendrickson’s brother’s home studio. Siblings Tyler and Renie gave input on the song and all three siblings can be heard clapping on the track, which was written and produced by Troy’s good friend and musical collaborator, Ken Sullivan.
Although Aunt Mary Pat’s fans rallied to buy up the single, it lost to Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” the nineties classic, “The Twelve Pains of Christmas,” by Bob Rivers & Twisted Radio, and the viral hit, “The Muffin Song (asdf movie),” by The Gregory Brothers.
Troy says, “For a regional character to chart on iTunes, I still can’t believe it.”
Upcoming northern Delaware shows for Aunt Mary Pat include The Reef (December 20), Argilla Brewing Company (December 23), and Catherine Rooney’s (December 27), but may already be sold-out by the time of publication.
Hendrickson also performs in drag as Miss Troy. You can catch her December 15th in the Drag Wars All Stars 3: Final Holiday Spectacular in Philly, December 28th at a special holiday-themed show at Crimson Moon and January 10th at Bootless Stageworks #inWilm for The Vaginally Challeneged Monologues. She also hosts DRAG Karaoke the first Tuesday of every month at Klondike Kate's!