There’s never going to be anyone like him EVER AGAIN. Patrice O’Neal was a comedic genius and a god in his profession. He offered a brand of comedy that I hadn’t seen before and it spoke to me. I first encountered the wit of Patrice O’Neal, in the early 2000’s on Comedy Central’s Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn. Imagine Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect but with up and coming comedians sparring with veteran funny men over topics such as sports, politics and R-A-C-E. I loved that show and I’d look forward to Patrice whenever he’d make an appearance because he’d literally take over the show and from what I’ve read in the years after his death, that would rub a lot of his fellow comedians the wrong way. Well to his credit, some of those Tough Crowd guests were corny and unfunny and he knew how to manipulate their awkwardness. Sometimes he’d get carried away but it was always entertaining.
O’Neal posthumously schooled me to the art of relationships. After he died in 2011, I went on a hunt for all of his material. I thoroughly enjoyed his Elephant in the Room standup special released earlier in the year but Youtube provided me with the Ark of the covenant: Episodes of the Black Phillip Show. The Black Phillip Show was a play on the Dr. Phil Show as it gave hard hitting and often humorous relationship advice that I still refer to years later. The program featured O’Neal and his partner in crime Dante Ross – who now carries the torch with the Beige Phillip show – talking all types of wild shit about to maintain relationships and how to get the person that you want. Some people have church masses, and others have self help books, I have the Black Phillip Show as it keeps the God from falling for the okey doke.
Damn I miss Patrice these days. Besides Chris Rock and a few others, there aren’t many comedians that are out that I can relate to. Patrice mastered the line between Comedy Central and Def Comedy Jam styles of comedy by creating material that everyone could relate to while infusing an honesty that seems to escape many of today’s MAINSTREAM talents. Patrice O’Neal’s appearances on the Opie and Anthony show are legendary. One of my favorite episodes, which I can remember listening to while playing Legend Of Zelda’s Skyward Sword (geeked out), was about his short stint in prison due to being falsely accused of rape. He didn’t deal with fame well and has been accused of burning bridges which may have halted his large star from breaking through but even in death, he’s a tough act to follow and he’ll continually be one my few voices of reason.
Rest In Peace, Patrice!