A Genius of Love & Laughs: Patrice O’Neal Dead at 41
About an hour ago, I woke up with a cold and a throbbing head to go along with it. Shortly thereafter, my heart was feeling mighty ill itself, as I was rudely awakened a second time by the news that Patrice O’Neal–one of my true comedic heroes–had passed away.
Just two days ago, my friend Helen and I were watching one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen, if not the funniest. It was probably my tenth time watching it and Helen’s first, but both of us were in tears and at the forefront, was Patrice O’Neal.
O’Neal regularly frequented the Opie & Anthony radio program and that is where my love affair with the comedic giant grew to epic proportions. Hearing his perspective on pop culture, life and mostly love, allowed me to hang out in his brain regularly and the man was a true genius for anyone who paid attention. I’ve never heard someone rant about romantic relationships so poignantly and hilariously at the same time.
On one episode of O & A, Opie, Anthony, Jim Norton, Patrice and Bill Burr were watching bad wrestling promos and commenting on them in the way only they could. Someone has made it into a video on YouTube, synced up with the actual events they speak of (posted just below this paragraph) and as far as I’m concerned, it’s mandatory viewing for any fans of comedy. So Helen and I were watching it just two days ago, like I said and we both commented on how Patrice had the greatest laugh in the business.
Hearing Patrice O’Neal revel in the disaster that the “Shockmaster” experience was, (watch the video) is nothing short of inspiring. The man’s laugh was a revelation in itself. Beyond infectious. Everyone should have that much enthusiasm about at least one thing. And that is what I will always remember when I think of Patrice O’Neal for the rest of my existence. His laugh, his heart, his spirit. They were all far bigger than his shell and thankfully, Patrice never had a problem coming out of his.
As a stand up comedian, Patrice was one of my biggest influences. He was so good, it would actually piss me off at times. Often, O’Neal would go up on stage with nothing prepared and just talk about his day for 45 minutes and would kill every time. That is something I would like to achieve someday, but I’m not holding my breath. I think I’m a solid comedian, but it takes a one of a kind talent to be able to do what Patrice O’Neal did on a regular basis.
The first time I saw him on a Showtime special about a decade ago, I’m guessing, I instantly fell in love with him. And it wasn’t just about his personality, which was great, even when he went out of his way to make you think he was a dick. But I also couldn’t believe what a superb mind the guy had. Few comedians are that smart and those guys are always my favorite. I feel like I’ve lost a brother and it upsets me that I never got to meet or work with him.
But seeing him on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and hearing him on Opie & Anthony over the next decade or so, gave me even further insight into his mind and frankly, it’s going to take a lot to fill the void I’m feeling this morning. The sun shines bright and the sky is a beautiful powder blue. The air smells clean and I’m happy to have my health, or what’s left of it. But there is a hole in the sky of the comedy world today and our collective hearts are aching for this huge loss. Words cannot express how much we will miss you, Patrice. It always hurts that much more when someone so young and so full of life will never be here again. It’s inconceivable, really.
Sweet dreams, brother.