You may not have identified Paul Mooney, however you’ve positively heard him, or not less than his comedic philosophy, as advised by means of a number of generations of Black comedians.
Mooney wrote for and with the late nice Richard Pryor, served because the preliminary head author for FOX’s In Living Color, and supplied commentary for Chappelle’s Show within the segments “Ask A Black Dude” and “Negrodamus.” Mooney died right this moment at 79, reportedly from a coronary heart assault in his residence in Oakland, Calif., though he had been sick for the previous a number of years after a most cancers analysis and a stroke. His earliest TV credit additionally included writing for Sanford and Son and Good Times.
I solely acquired to see Mooney carry out reside late in his life and profession, when he’d typically carry out at Carolines on Broadway in a co-headlining gig with one other late comedic legend, Dick Gregory.
Promoting his memoir, Black Is The New White (which featured a foreword from Dave Chappelle), Mooney told NPR in 2009 about meeting Pryor by means of Joe and Eddie, a people duo Mooney was opening for on the time. “I was living at a very cheap apartment on Sunset in Hollywood, where Gladys Knight and the Pips stayed. A bunch of people stayed with us, you know… A bunch of people would come and stay because nobody had any money, and we let them all sleep on the floor and in the bathtub or wherever they wanted to sleep. And I met Richard – a friend of my sister’s who was moonlighting with her, who was dancing at a go-go club, at the Whiskey a Go-Go, had dated Richard and brought him to the apartment. And so it was during that whole era of, you know, that hippie, that, you know, that Bob, Ted, Alice -everybody sleeping with everybody – and Lassie, and whoever else we could get into bed. And Richard had come in and said, well, why we don’t just all get into bed and have an orgy? And I threw him out of the apartment. And he had said before in his book that he didn’t know that was my sister.”
Pryor overtly joked about their sexual openness in a roast to rejoice the top of the short-lived The Richard Pryor Show on NBC, on which Mooney served as head author, and which served as an early large break for the likes of Robin Williams, Tim Reid, John Witherspoon, Sandra Bernhard, Vic Dunlop, Edie McClurg, and Marsha Warfield. Talk a couple of assassin’s row of expertise who NBC actually deemed “not ready for primetime.”
(A few years in the past, certainly one of Pryor’s former bodyguards alleged that Mooney improperly abused certainly one of Pryor’s sons. Richard Pryor Jr., for his half, revealed he had been raped as a baby however by no means named his abuser.)
Mooney additionally claimed credit score for maybe Saturday Night Live‘s most infamous sketch, pairing Pryor with Chevy Chase for “Word Association.” Mooney said he used SNL’s “cross-examination” of his personal comedy credentials for writing for Pryor because the premise for the sketch.
A decade and a half later, Keenen Ivory Wayans turned to Mooney to assist mould the voice of his groundbreaking sketch sequence, In Living Color, in 1990. The breakout recurring character of Homey D. Clown, who didn’t need to be held down by the White man “Homey don’t play that,” was impressed by Mooney’s persona.
A decade after In Living Color, Chappelle turned to Mooney to coach White individuals by means of the “Ask A Black Dude” section (here’s Mooney uncensored talking about walking), and predict the long run in his “Negrodamus” segments. Comedy Central doesn’t have Mooney’s bits on YouTube formally, however you may watch him by way of Paramount+ and elsewhere by means of full episodes of Chappelle’s Show.
This look on Late Show with David Letterman originally of the 2008 presidential election cycle is much more fascinating looking back. Mooney and Letterman had identified one another since their early nights at The Comedy Store within the mid-Nineteen Seventies. Mooney didn’t assume Barack Obama’s marketing campaign stood an opportunity, believed Hillary Clinton would win even then, and talked in-depth about Michael Richards utilizing “the n-word” onstage, and the way he supported Richards after that, within the wake of what now could be short-handed as cancel tradition.
Don’t take my phrase for it on Mooney’s legacy?
Chappelle stopped to shout him out for TMZ right this moment:
See what In Living Color star David Alan Grier needed to say.
Or Bill Burr, who co-starred on Chappelle’s Show.
Or CNN host W. Kamau Bell.
Or Hari Kondabolu.
Or Marc Maron.
And for Mooney’s influence on Black leisure at giant, right here’s Ava Duvernay and Viola Davis: