Patrice O'Neal; December 7, 1969 – November 29, 2011
On November 29, 2011 the world lost a comedy icon.
I want to start this off by saying that I almost feel wrong for writing it. Obviously I didn't know Patrice, and the sense of loss and the sadness I'm feeling is nothing compared to what his family and friends are undoubtedly going through right now, and ultimately it can be argued that all I've really lost is a source of entertainment. But I'd be lying if I said it doesn't feel like more than that; I've been upset for the past few days almost as if I did lose someone I know. The idea that I'm never going to hear Patrice's voice, or his incredible infectious laugh, coming out of my radio ever again really does make my world a shittier place. So I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you all my favorite Patrice memories. If you were already a fan, then you get it, and if you weren't, or even if you only know of Patrice from his stand-up well... I'll do my best to try and make you all understand why Patrice was one of my favorite comedians of all time, and why this is such a tragedy. Arrrggh man, I want to scream. How did we lose this guy? This was NOT supposed to happen.
Anyway, I first became familiar with Patrice from his appearances on the Opie & Anthony Show. I've been an O&A fan for years, and when they debuted on XM in 2004, I bought myself a sattelite radio and have been an avid, almost obsessive listener ever since. I'm serious, I record the show every day. When I can't catch it live, or on the replay, I catch up on the weekends, and I've really only missed a handful of shows since the XM show started. Jeez, that's probably a little weird and obsessive of me, but anyway, when Jim Norton (regular 3rd mic on the show and amazing stand up comedian in his own right) moved out to California (to film Lucky Louie, if I'm remembering right), Bill Burr and Patrice O'Neal were alternating as 3rd mic. This was my first exposure to Patrice, and I was a fan from pretty much day one. He brought such a unique perspective to the show, and he had this great way of breaking things down and simplifying them into terms that were not only hilarious, but poignant and philosophical too.
Another thing I loved about Patrice was his honesty. His brutal, brutal honesty. The dude pulled no punches whatsoever, he never sugar-coated his opinion or his feelings, and the results were always awesome. Another amazing thing about Patrice was his take on women and relationships. Critics would probably say he was mysoginistic; I would say he was dead-on point, realistic and helpful. Other people felt the same way too, because for (an all-too-brief) while, Patrice had his own advice show on Saturday nights on O&A's channel called the Black Philip Show (as in Patrice was the black Dr. Phil, giving advice and helping his fellow man). Patrice even guest-hosted the O&A show a few years ago while the boys were on vacation.
I can honestly say Patrice is one of the few people that can boast never having a bad appearance on the show. He batted a thousand, no matter what was going on in studio; whether it was talking about movies, or the news, or calling out a porn star on the fact that she was acting stuck up, calling Gallagher a racist, or having the most amazing, hysterical reaction to a retarded half-troll's weird erectile quirks (see below, it'll make sense). He once even opened up on the show, talking about being falsely accused of rape as a kid and spending time in jail... and it wasn't even funny, it was just heartwarming and human and absolutely riveting. To the point that I remember where I was when I was listening to it; the parking lot across the street from District Court in Hempstead, where I sat for almost 2 hours after court, just drinking my coffee and listening to this incredible story. I tried to come up with my favorite Patrice moments from the show, and I can't, because there's way too many. Like I said earlier, if you only knew Patrice from his stand up, then you were only getting half the story because, as funny as he was on stage (and good god, he was, I was lucky enough to see him perform live a few times), he was just as awesome when he was riffing on whatever was happening in the studio at that moment.
To wrap this up, the world lost way more than a comedian this week. It lost a voice - an important, brilliant, hilarious, beautifully and brutally honest voice; an irreplacable voice. And like I said, the world is just a shittier place now than it was a few days ago. Goodbye Patrice, I hope this did you justice big guy. Thanks for all the laughs and entertainment, you will absolutely be missed.
Patrice's reaction to the "up down game" with Bobo
A fan-animated segment; discussing Wesley Snipes' incarceration
Nigga vs. Nazi: Patrice & Anthony on the streets of NYC, answering the question of who has an easier time getting a cab, a big black guy or a guy in a nazi helmet
Patrice tells the story of his encounter with a creep in a rest stop parking lot
Patrice's hysterical thoughts on Asians
A segment from the Black Philip show
Look, I could do this all day. Just YouTube Patrice, and watch everything, you won't be sorry. Also, the Opie & Anthony Channel on Sirius/XM will be airing an all-Patrice weekend. I'm gonna be listening as much as possible, you all should too! XM 105, Sirius 206
Also, you can preorder Patrice's final CD, Mr. P, coming out in February here. All the proceeds go to his wife and step daughter and its a great way to show love and support for Patrice and his family.