STAND-UP TUESDAYS: Patrice O’Neal

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Stand-Up Tuesdays is a weekly comedy spotlight written by the wonderfully talented Angie Frissore. Covering both known and unknown comics, Stand-up Tuesdays is your new source for all things funny.

This week, Angie puts a spotlight on Patrice O’Neal! If you or your comedy troupe would like to be featured on Stand-Up Tuesdays, please email utgjames@gmail.com.

The untimely death of much-loved comedian Patrice O’Neal in 2011 left a massive hole in the world of comedy, but recently fans have been able to enjoy one (exceptionally) bright spot in the recent post-humus release of O’Neal’s final CD, Mr. P.

In what couldn’t be a more fitting tribute to the late comedian, Mr. P embodies all that made O’Neal one of the best comics of his time – his brutal honesty, cleverly scathing commentary, and his one-of-a-kind style of audience interaction. Within forty-five seconds of starting his set, he’s already at work getting to know his audience members.

“You guys brothers? You look just alike,” he comments, before receiving a strange response from a fan. “Why’d you get all strange? It’s not a setup to fuck with you, man.”

What was always great about O’Neal was just how much he did interact with his audience. He takes his time, feeling them out, getting to know them – and expertly fires off hilarious remarks accordingly. O’Neal is a conversationalist, which, as a comedian, is a rare art form – it’s often risky for a comedian to rely on his or her own improvisational skills, but it’s a risk O’Neal never backs down from. After learning the rather unique name of one audience member, Tolu, O’Neal simply runs with it, to the raucous delight of the crowd.

“If it was up to one of my goofy-ass, eighty-year-old aunts,” O’Neal quips, “I’d be Lamumba O’Neal up this motherfucker. Your moms went right through it. Tolu.”

O’Neal, a frequent guest on the popular Opie and Anthony radio show, released his first one hour special in February of 2011, Elephant in the Room, which received extremely high reviews from fans and critics alike.  Back when the special was aired, I had the chance to speak with O’Neal about his craft.

“People ask me, well, how do I do it? And I say, look – I’m not trying to be coy about it, you gotta get on stage! There’s no other way to do this journey unless you do it,” O’Neal stated. “There’s no shortcut, there’s no slick way to do it. It’s a day by day journey – you can be on top of the world tomorrow and rock bottom on Friday. That’s the game.  It’s a business for sociopaths.”

I’m certainly not alone in my praise of Mr. P, as anyone familiar with O’Neal’s life and work will agree that it offers a candid and honest tribute to the late comedian.

“I just finished listening to Patrice O’Neal’s new album,” stated Colin Quinn. “If you want to understand what comedy is supposed to sound like, you have to listen to this.” “If you want to understand what a comedian is supposed to sound like, listen to this.” “If you want to listen to somebody who just can’t stop opening up about what he thinks of himself and what he thinks of you, then listen to this album.”

When you order Mr. P at iTunes, all of the proceeds will go directly to support Patrice’s family. It’s also brilliantly hilarious, which is another good reason to go buy it. You can listen to a sample and check out the full track list here, and definitely download a copy today.

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