As little as two months ago, I didn’t even know that Patrice O’Neal existed. Well, he doesn’t exist anymore, he’s dead. But when Chris Rock name droped him as the Notorious B.I.G of comedy, you have to take notice.
Yes, Patrice has the physical resemblance to the ‘Black Frank White’, but I think Rock’s comparison was more apt than that. O’Neal’s talent was so stark and so damn potent that, from the very first Youtube video I saw of him, I knew I was watching something special.
He was undeniably special and it was clear that he was very different to almost everything on the black comedy circuit. What I mean by that is simple – the very best out there, your Chappelles and your Rocks, may have a style of their own but their linage is very clear. You can see the Pryors and the Murphys in them – but with O’Neal something feels different. It feels like he was blazing his own path, that black comedy was finally turning a page, branching off from the titans of the past. He felt like the future – a future prematurely snatched from us, just as it had been with Biggie.
And his comedy was effortlessly outrageous. I always say the reason I love Biggie so much is because he made rapping look extraordinarily easy – as if it was as simple as breathing to him. This is how I feel when I watch a Patrice video. The hilarious special, Elephant in the Room, feels effortless – like he wasn’t even out of second gear but he still had me crying with laughter.
If you have time, and you are interested, please read this profile on O’Neal, like most geniuses, there was real darkness and struggle to his life. It is just a shame that he didn’t receive the acclaim he deserved in his lifetime.