Larger than life comedian Patrice O’Neal passed away this week on November 29 due to complications from a stroke he suffered a month before. The news was delivered by the hosts of the Opie and Anthony radio program, who are now planning a weekend-long tribute to honor and say goodbye to their 41-year-old friend who died at far too young of an age. A number of other remembrances are planned (like a posthumous comedy album) or have already aired (like Marc Maron’s touching tribute on his WTF podcast), but nothing quite tops remembering Patrice like watching clips of what he did best, delivering his special kind of conversational and confrontational comedy.
Videos from O’Neal’s stand-up special Elephant in the Room are a good place to start. And watching episodes of O’Neals original web series, The Patrice O’Neal Show Coming Soon! is a good place to end up. (Note: If you’re unfamiliar with Patrice you should be warned, the language in the below is very NSFW or small children or the easily offended.)
The program was produced by Paul Kontonis’ For Your Imagination way back in 2007 (you can check out our original review here) and watches kinda like Chapelle’s Show, with sketches, bits, and behind-the-scenes footage of whatever it was O’Neal and his comedic entourage thought was particularly funny when filming. The only difference is, O’Neal’s show contains the amount of censorship you’d expect for a program produced exclusively for the internet, which means it’s not censored at all.
I never knew Patrice, but I was impressed with the face he was one of the first comedians with a foothold in traditional media (he appeared on Chappelle’s Show, Arrested Development, The Office, Web Junk, and many more TV programs) to take seriously consider the internet as a viable entertainment medium.
I met him once, too. I was surprised both his physical person and his personality could fit in the same room at once. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Patrice was a big dude, impossible to miss in a crowd, but his character made him even bigger. Despite his caustic style of comedy, he was somehow able to exude an engaging, affable attitude that could easily captivate any size crowd. It’s rare to meet someone with such an alluring presence, and it’s even more rare when all of said presence is devoted towards trying to make everyone around it laugh.
Thanks for all the laughs and rest in peace, Patrice. You’ll be missed.