One of the greatest voices in modern comedy passed away today. Patrice O’Neal had suffered a stroke in October, but complications from that stroke ended his life on November 28, 2011. O’Neal was a journeyman comic, having done specials for Comedy Central, and Showtime, and had done appearances on Def Comedy Jam, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman and many others. He also had characters on The Dave Chappelle Show, The Office and Arrested Development.
It’s always best to let a comic speak for himself, so here is one of his cleaner bits:
O’Neal here is working with a very standard comic bit (the difference between white people and black people), but the bit soars with the directions he takes it, which is the mark of any good stand-up. Most premises are cliched, but it’s making them work that shows your gift.
Of course, much of his comedy is much filthier than that, and that led to charges of sexism. For those just discovering O’Neal with his passing, there’s a great WTF with Marc Maron podcast with O’Neal where the two talk about the road and women. O’Neal is already being mourned by the comic community. He was a beloved figure, someone who perhaps would have gone on to bigger things. One is reminded (sadly) of Robin Harris, who also passed away far too young.
Do you have a favorite Patrice O’Neal stand up bit?