If you don't have plans on the night of February 19th (and really why would you?) might I suggest a documentary on the life of late stand-up comic and actor, Patrice O'Neal?
Patrice's longtime girlfriend, Von Decarlo broke the news yesterday on her Instagram that a documentary that's been in the works since 2015 on his life, career, and legacy is set to debut Friday February 19th at 10 PM on Comedy Central. Immediately after the doc ends, Comedy Central is going to air his last and only one-hour special Elephant in the Room; exactly one decade after it premiered.
**ftr I wrote 99% of this blog before watching the youtube clip...makes me even more excited to see the entire thing. I found out about this story on IG h/t SW**
If you're unfamiliar with his work, I'm sorry. You've missed tf out. Patrice O'Neal was an absolutely hilarious, larger than life (standing at 6' 4"!) stand-up comedian and actor who I wish I got to see perform live. He was raw, brash, smart, raunchy and hit on real life issues while being fucking hilarious. He was well known and beloved in comedy circles, but wasn't exactly a household name; only releasing one stand-up album during his lifetime.
Patrice wasn't some nobody by any means and I don't want to make it seem that way in my shitty blog, I'm just saying he wasn't Chris Rock or Louis C.K. in terms of name recognition, so I understand if not everybody is familiar with his work.
Patrice had his fair share of success with minor roles on Chappelle's Show (the first time I can remember seeing him), The Office, Arrested Development and movies like Head of State. He made appearances on the late night tv circuit and was a regular on XM radio. I was a fan of his and remember the shock of his death my sophomore year of college, even though he was telling you he was dying in his work. He had just appeared on the Roast of Charlie Screen in September of 2011 at the peak of his "Winning!" episode and tragically passed away from complications of a stroke and diabetes two months later on November 29th, 2011 right as he was starting to truly blow up. He was only 41 years old.
In the time since Patrice's passing, the policing of "off-color" comedy has multiplied and I worry had he lived he probably would've been "cancelled" for some hilarious remarks that touch on the most "sensitive" subjects by people too stupid to get the joke. I am all for making people feel included and making society better. It's something I'm actually pretty passionate about, but comedy is an art form that the world needs. Ruining careers because you disagree with a joke is the lamest shit of all-time. We can't have free speech without comedy. Was Patrice "going too far" or "getting too real"?
There were definitely changes that needed to be made and we evolve, but being able to make fun of everybody and everything is the most inclusive thing we can do. That's true equality; not saying what is and isn't off limits. There are people who can find legitimate humor in the most horrible of circumstances and I think policing thoughts is a dangerous game that we're already dealing with in society. If you disagree, don't listen. I don't listen to music I don't like, why would you do the same with comedy? Just because I don't fuck with country or most hip hop made in the last decade, doesn't mean those artists shouldn't been able to create.
I think making light of tough and taboo subjects is a great way to bring them more attention, which is something I think Patrice did throughout his career. His bit on "high quality white woman" probably upset people from all demographics, but through all the jokes points a light on "value" in society. The part where he acts out looking for the football players who died at sea in 2009 is hilarious because of how fucked up, but true it is compared to the media craze and attention of someone like Natalee Holloway.
Comedian and friend of Patrice's, Bill Burr is a producer on the documentary, so you that alone should be a seal of approval. I'm sure the topic of political correctness in comedy will come up, but I had to say my piece because I know some of Patrice's material may not "hold up". Based off the Comedy Central promo video that I added to this blog at 11:53 PM after seeing it on youtube while in bed for the night and decided the blog must have it included (like the NFL local ad video)...there is a bunch of interviews and stories from other comedians like Dennis Leary and Jim Norton. I have the highest of hopes for this documentary. Patrice was an incredibly funny man and deserves to have his story and legacy live on. I'm glad it's happening. If multiple comedians are saying you were the funniest person they ever met that says more than my blog ever could. What a legend and not like the way he talked about Jeff Ross' funny at the Charlie Sheen roast. I cannot wait to watch this doc next Friday. R.I.P Patrice O'Neal!