Here’s What You Missed at Last Night’s Fifth Annual Patrice O’Neal Benefit

It was the fifth annual benefit for Patrice O’Neal, and all I can say is that and Maureen Taran are the kind of loyal friends you’d want to have. To do this year after year, when it takes so much work, is a true example of loyal friendship, and a true dedication to the man and memory of Patrice O’Neal. It was another sold-out event at New York City Center which holds around 2,200 people, and the line-up this year included a few relative newcomers to comedy who admitted they didn’t know Patrice, but were honored to be included. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s what you missed!

You would have thought it was a Roast Battle by the comments each comic made about the other, but that’s how they do it. was the MC again and reminded the audience throughout the show of how good he was doing, which was true, and how he also “carries the show” every year, as if the others were just his opening acts. He wore a blue patterned hat to match his shirt until ripped it off as he was leaving the stage saying “and take off that stupid hat!”

came out first and thanked everyone for being part of the show. He was one of the younger comics who only knew Patrice by his rep. Then Vos brought out Keith Robinson, who announced to the audience that he had some difficulty walking due to a stroke he had last year. That statement was met with profuse applause from Rich Vos standing in the wings. Keith was like, “Fuck you Vos.  It figures that Vos would applaud something like that.” The stroke affected Keith’s entire right side, but luckily did not affect his ability to speak or be funny. Considering how a stroke affects some people, it seems Keith got off lucky, and I’m sure his rehab helped a lot with his ability to walk and talk, as well as the support of his friends.

As a matter of fact, Keith was so funny that when came out next he said that Keith should have had a stroke 15 years ago, and that even with the stroke he still talks better than Rich Vos. Vos had lines for everyone. Pete Davidson came out next wearing a pink cardigan sweater, thanking the powers that be for letting him be part of the show. He did a funny bit and announced that that was his only new material and the rest wouldn’t be funny. He was wrong as it was all funny. But he ended his set as he often does talking about his Dad, a fireman who perished during 9/11. After Pete left the stage and stole Vos’ hat, Vos said if his father saw him wearing that pink sweater he’d jump into another fire.

came out next and not only wore his coat (which he usually does) but even kept his hood on through his entire set. He said this show was his favorite event of the year and also said “we’re either here celebrating Patrice O’Neal or the saddest background in the world,” referencing the plain black curtain that hung behind them.

Most of the comics didn’t even mention Patrice, but did. She recounted a time when she was complaining to him about guys she hooked up with who treated her badly afterwards and she said to him something to the effect of, “just wait till I’m a big star. I’ll show them, when they wanna come running back to me,” and Patrice just said something like, “Naah, they’ll just say ‘I once fucked that crazy chick .’” Leslie did a lot of screaming during her act, on a decibel level comparable to what used to do, occasionally just yelling out the word “Fuck!” I hadn’t seen her do that before.

And then, the man of the hour Bill Burr came out to take the stage looking like the head of the Aryan Brotherhood from HBO’s “Oz”, and completely crushed talking a lot about being a new dad. He said that everyone told him he’d cry when the baby was born and when he didn’t he said he wondered if he was a serial killer. But by 12 hours later, when he was holding the baby he knew he’d kill anyone who ever tried to hurt her, and then he knew he was okay. It was a full two hour show and Bill cut his set a little short so as not to run too long.

At the end, Bill brought out Maureen Taran and thanked her for her tireless work in putting the show together because he said if not for her it wouldn’t happen. Vos thanked the audience and all the comics, saying that Keith had to leave early cause he had to be home by the “stroke” of 11, referencing Keith’s stroke once again, but I’m pretty sure he accidentally called him “Pete”, and then when Pete Davidson came out next, I’m pretty sure he accidentally called him “Pete Davison”, not Davidson.

When I got to the after party at The Stand, I ran into Big hanging outside with Stand co-owner , Dan Soder and Dave Attell who still had his hood on, but now it made sense because it was cold, and when I congratulated them on their performance and told Dave he was great in Judd Apatow and ’ new HBO show “Crashing” he said, “Really? I never watch myself after I do something.” People were just starting to arrive after 10, and I ran into a whole bunch of comics like Harris Stanton, Damien Lemon, and Monroe Martin. I congratulated Vos, who made sure to ask me if I saw how good he did, and I assured him I did, then I congratulated Maureen and Bill, and then headed out on my next comedy adventure. After all, it was only 10:30. And I never stop!

Except for now. Until Monday….I’m OUT.

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Jeffrey Gurian is a comedy writer, comedian, author, producer, comedy connoisseur, comedy journalist, and an all around bon vivant. You can find him on red carpets, at comedy events across the country and hosting Comedy Matters TV. He’s the author of the book Make ‘Em Laugh with an intro by Chris Rock”. You've seen him on Comedy Central's Kroll Show and he's a regular on SiriusXM's Bennington Show and it's predecessor the Ron and Fez Show. He's also A BIG BELIEVER in Happiness and Love.


  1. JP

    February 23, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Am I the only one that was so excited to read about that show – but started to read it and tapped out half-way into it having gotten no sense of what it actually was like to “be there” – at least in terms of the comedy?

    At least I got a good sense of how everyone was dressed.

    Pete Davidson had a pink cardigan… Vos wore a hat… Attell kept his coat on and *gasp* even kept his hood up.

    Fucking awful writing – I know Gurian is a “friend of the show” and I guess the Ibang was looking to get out a quick report from someone there, but that sucked.

  2. TJMaxx

    February 23, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I was there, and it was awesome. The mention of people’s clothing was important, because much of the jokes were made in reference to their equally silly outits.

    Besides that, everyone was on the top of their game. The only comedian I hadn’t seen yet was Leslie Jones, and she fucking blew me and the crowd away. I had no idea she was so fierce. Definitely gonna check out her Netflix special and catch her when she does a headlining tour, because that has got to happen.

    I did miss Gary Gulman and Robert Kelly, was looking forward to seeing them, but apparently they don’t love Patrice as much as everyone else in attendance. I kid!

    This was my second time, even better than last year. Most definitely will be there next year. Best bang for your buck as far as comedy in NYC is concerned. Where do you see powerhouses like this for $75?