Although it sounds cold to say, I normally don’t really care when celebrities die. Don’t get me wrong, it’s sad. Rarely, though, do I ever find myself feeling genuinely bummed out when a coked out singer eventually pushes it too far. That wasn’t the case when a stroke killed Patrice O’Neal last year in November. The news took my breath away.
Everything about the guy was huge. He was 6’5” and over 300 lbs but that was nothing compared to his personality. O’Neal was more of a philosopher than stand up and opened his 2011 stand up special by saying, “You can tell how pretty a white woman is by how long they’d look for her if she went missing.”
Not yet a household name, O’Neal was about to be huge. He’d appeared in early episodes of The Office and blew it up on Comedy Central’s roast of Charlie Sheen. On the latter he came up with most of his jokes off the cuff and his set went viral almost immediately.
Louis CK dedicated his Live At The Beacon performance to Patrice and cried on NPR’s Fresh Air when the subject of his death came up. WTF podcast host Marc Maron made his interview with Patrice available again (easiest to find on iTunes) where the two delve into O’Neals stint in jail as a teen and his perception of women as well as his own career. O’Neal’s hysterical hour long special Elephant In The Room is still regularly shown on Comedy Central and available on Netflix streaming.
Last week saw the posthumous release of Mr. P., the follow up to Elephant In The Room and it might be even better. He gets into slavery reparations all the while terrified he’s about to be assassinated while he talks about it. O’Neal tears apart people in the audience and gets into how he loves dogs because, unlike women, poodles don’t act like they don’t need him. Mr. P is an awesome standup album that goes right for the gut but the sad undertone from his death is always lurking too close to the surface.