Patrice O’Neal: Trying to Be Righteous

Today marks the release of Patrice O’Neal’s new comedy CD, “Mr. P”.   The CD was recorded at the DC Improv months before the stroke that led to his death.  Patrice’s stand up was everything we believe excellence to be.  He was genuine, 100% original, uncompromising, insightful, truthful and knee-dropping-grab-your-gut funny.  

Today, as his new CD is released, we  are reprinting excerpts from his episode of Unmasked, which was taped four years ago this month.  He had some brilliant things to say that we wanted to share with all of you, again.  Read it, then go and buy his CD– all of the proceeds will go to his family.  Then buy one for a friend and keep Patrice O’Neal at #1 on Amazon and iTunes.


: Patrice O’Neal is sitting in with us tonight.

Patrice O’Neal: I’ma tell you something real quick. I like you a lot. Me and Ron don’t – we barely speak. Like, when we see each other, he’ll come in. I’ll do O&A or whatever, and we’ll – “Hey.” “Hey.” And I like guys like that. You understand? Like, I always wanted to say – I never got a chance to say I respect you. I think you’re a funny funny dude. One of the best on the radio. And you’re an alpha male. I always respect alpha males. A lot of motherfuckers, they think like women sometimes, where if you don’t like me then that means I don’t like you. But that’s not the case. You understand? Like, I don’t know how you feel about me but I like you a lot and respect you. I think you’re one of the smartest dudes I ever heard in my life and I’m just saying this because I know we have a weird… Even backstage – “Mm,” “Mm.” Just kind of – that’s all.

Ron Bennington: Right.

Patrice O’Neal: That’s our relationship.

Ron Bennington: Yeah. But I feel the same way as you. I see you’re a hard-working guy. You’re always funny. I see you doing a million different things. Do you ever turn anything down? Because you’ll go into some firestorm areas. They’ll call you on Fox TV.

Patrice O’Neal: Essentially, when you say “Do I turn shit down?” I turn a lot of things down. I turned down that stupid Celebrity Fit Club. Where I’m going… “You know, to be honest my career is more important than my health.” So you gotta… You have, they say you got to be not only fat – You have to be a fat has-been. And I never even was a was yet. You know what I’m saying? That was an unexpected question. What I say “yes” to is things like Fox ‘cause it’s just… You know, first of all I think black people, we need some kind of agenda beyond just being angry every time a white guy says some shit that’s supposed to hurt our feelings. I think we came further than that. So it’s a chance. It’s a chance for me to do that Fox thing. That Fox thing fucks me up because I got a lot of viewers’ sellout emails. “Sellout motherfucker! You sayin’ shit for white guys and shit.” Because I looked like I was just defending middle-aged white men every week for saying shit. But the reason I was on there defending their speech is because for real, black people own speech right now. We own it! That’s our reparation. It’s an unwritten thing that we can say what the fuck we want and white guys can’t say what the fuck they want. And our biggest ally in terms of black folks moving ahead is that white guilt. White guilt is a big-time ally. White people going “I feel so bad for slavery,” even though you’re originally from Poland or something. You had nothing to do with slavery, but you feel that white guilt that comes along with it. Good! So I can say what the fuck I feel like saying and you stuck! And I just want to say to black folks, “step the fuck up” till we get our shit together. Because we got too many hypocrites on our end. You know what I mean? It’s not like I want something to throw some – If I say “You’re a piece of shit,” and then somebody says to me “Well, what about when you… Well, you go to Brazil and fuck hookers sometimes.” I don’t want to go “Well that’s a different piece of shit!”

Ron Bennington: This is nothing like Actor’s Studio. I uh… I can’t see this ever getting on TV of any kind. I honestly, I was sitting here listening. I can’t even think of porno channels that would wanna play this at all. (laughs)

Patrice O’Neal: Yeah. That’s why it’s like… Someone asked me in the back “You’re not on O&A as much anymore?” I’m not done yet, in terms of being offensive. I think. And I think O&A, and I’m not saying they’re done in terms of being offensive, but they’re tired of fighting. You know what I mean? They’re becoming generals. And, you know, soldiers fight. And I think they went through the solider phase and now they’re generals, man. And they don’t feel like boxing the powers-that-be right now. And I think that I don’t want to go on there and do a goofy thing. I want to go in there and be how I am, which is completely unedited racist, unedited sexist, unedited piece of garbage, man. Till I’m done. And I’m not done yet. So, you know, if I’m not on there because of that, I understand. I wouldn’t have me on there. Like, they pulled off the Black Phillip thing I do on XM. My whole show is just talking about women. And how women are – we don’t like ‘em! And I don’t like ‘em! They had to yank me off. I’m not upset about that. But I’m not finished yet, you know, offending people. You know?

Ron Bennington: Why is that, Patrice? What is it that you’re trying to do here?

Patrice O’Neal: That’s a good question. It ain’t make money. ‘Cause I’m stuck. One thing I learned about this game early… um… is that it’s a lonely game. A lonely journey. It’s really hard. Like, my mother didn’t support me. She supports me now, but it’s one of those things like “This shit is a dream.” And you know, you ever tried to – dreams are something you do by yourself. You ever have a dream and then try to tell somebody the dream you had? You wake up and be like “Hey, here’s what I was dreaming.” And they like “Really? Really? And so unicorns and then what happened?” That’s the same thing as saying “I want to do something besides be what’s already planned out.” Plumber, doctor, lawyer. You know, dentist. There’s a plan. This thing here is like a leap of faith and you just keep falling. Now, to answer your question, what I’m trying to do is be righteous. And when I say “righteous,” I don’t mean God. You know? God-righteous. I mean just when I wake up, I know I was honest to myself. You know what I mean? And did the whole tap dance, dude. People are like “Why don’t you play ball?” I did it. I tap danced like you wouldn’t believe. Aspen 1998. I mean, “ts tss tss ts tss tss.” I mean fuckin’ like hot shoes trying to get something. What is it, a means to an end? I was trying to get something. And I went to LA and I was sitting there, I was game. I was like a hundred pounds bigger than I am now, dude. And I was sitting and my stomach was like fucking sitting out here. And I had two… uh, Whoppers with cheese because they were 99 cents, dude. And that’s all I could afford to eat, every day was Whopper with cheese, just sitting on my stomach. And if I had a gun, dude. I’m telling you, I’d have shot myself. I understand suicide.

Ron Bennington: Because you couldn’t do the act they way you wanted to?

Patrice O’Neal: Because I was trying to get something from what I do. You know, out of what I do. Um… but it’s big, man. Comedy is big. What it is, is being political.  ‘Cause I more wanna be a cult figure. I want to make some money, but I felt the feeling of trying to make it. And that vague “make it.” That emptiness of “I made it!” What’s it? You know what I’m saying? So I just do it because when a guy says to me “Dude… Man, you changed my life,” that feels good. If a dude says “You changed my life” or a woman says “You changed my life,” for some goofy shit you did… you know, that means something. That’s “it”. I want to change lives but not be profound about it. You know? That’s why I think Richard Pryor was who he was, and I think George Carlin’s who he is. I put them one and two, because I think they both have a righteousness. Because George Carlin’s story is heavy, man. He was already a millionaire. And Richard Pryor was already a millionaire and they just had some “This is wrong. This sucks.” Even though they got the millions, but they went down. I mean, their lifestyle went down.

Ron Bennington: On this journey that you’re on, okay, you’re not getting the same response as a guy who’s an actor would be. For some reason they see a stand-up comedian, “Here’s a guy jacking around” or whatever. And you’re going in a different direction than maybe even your own audience is.

Patrice O’Neal: I’m uh… I don’t mind boutique sales. Like I don’t mind that boutique shit. I can’t… I can’t go out and go “buy my CD.” I mean, if you want to. If you want to find it, I want to make it available. I’m not an asshole or idiot. But I don’t want to go “Here’s some more. Gimmie, gimmie.” All I want you to do is just sit there and absorb what I’m trying to do. But the thing about drugs is –  It’s like if I got some really good coke, I don’t need every scumbag everywhere to come buy my coke. I have a very boutique – I don’t mind having a boutique audience. I don’t mind a hundred thousand fans that will pay $100 out of their life to fuck with me in any way. That’s ten million, maybe? I don’t know, I don’t do math.

Ron Bennington: Right.

Patrice O’Neal: But that’s a lot of money if I just don’t let those hundred thousand down. I don’t need a million strangers in my life.

Ron Bennington: It wasn’t too long ago I was reading an interview with . Who I think – genius. I think he’s brilliant. And they were asking him about doing comedy in America, in New York, and he only mentioned one name of comedians that he admires. And that’s Patrice O’Neal.

Patrice O’Neal: He’s big. I mean, The Office. Yeah.

Ron Bennington: And I’ll throw it in with the Opie & Anthony, too, who I think are brilliant minds. But the people that I tend to think are funny are fans of yours. And so maybe you are chasing that –

Patrice O’Neal: I fight hard to not have an editing system. I try to fight hard – Like, Ricky Gervais probably got to know me from my time of going to England. Because it was a time where I got essentially thrown out of America. Wasn’t making money. See a lot of things in this game is weird. They try to give you golden handcuffs all the time. And golden handcuffs is when, like when you’re out of control somebody just gives you something to control you. So you got nothing, they give you five Gs, give you something to be scared of losing five Gs, then that’s how they beat you into being a slave. So I had a lot of that, in terms of getting treated like that in clubs. Like “Hey man, we’re gonna give you this. But you’re gonna have to spin in a circle and do this on top of your head and spin…” Nah. Nope. “I ain’t gonna do it.” So had to go to England.  And I appreciate Gervais saying that.

Ron Bennington: Sure.

Patrice O’Neal: This was six years ago when I stopped going [to England]. People still remember me from that. I’m very proud. I’ll brag about how proud I am of certain things in my career. About maybe five things. One of them is going over to England and getting respect. As a comic. I love respect, man.

Ron Bennington: Well give me some of the other things that you’re proud of.

Patrice O’Neal: HBO special. But I didn’t get what I wanted. That was one of those things where I had to fight from being disappointed. Just because it was the same kind of feeling I felt back in ’98 when I was like “Boy, I could really think about killing myself right now. This sucks.” And, it’s not like I was suicidal. It’s just “Do I feel like going through this?”

Ron Bennington: Right.

Patrice O’Neal: And uh… And HBO, man – because I think I gave, I put out what I wanted to. So it’s almost like when that HBO special kinda fell dead, or duddish, I uh… I got that same disappointment because I was like “Man, I thought I gave it –

Ron Bennington: What didn’t work for you? You just didn’t get the bounce off of it?

Patrice O’Neal: Yeah, I didn’t get – Because what’s funny in my career, and this is another thing about this business – there is no market value. You don’t get value for who you are. And that’s what kills comics. When you see bitter comics, it’s because if Michael Jordan scores 30 and Kevin Garnett scores 31, right, and Michael Jordan gets $20 million a year, Kevin Garnett can ask for $20 million a year based on the fact that he scores 31. So I have value compared to my peers in everything else but this. It’s like,“I gotta watch unnamed assholes making mega money and there’s no karma, there’s no like… you know. There’s no one to complain to! I can’t walk in an office and go “Listen. Uh. This hack bought his mother a house.” I gotta stand there and look at this dude. And a lotta people I never got along with are people who let this business qualify who they are. “I’m at this level, Patrice, so I can now… Like when I was here I didn’t talk to you, but now Comedy Central has put me here. Now I’m here with you.” “No you’re not. I don’t care if God gave you a deal where you get half the world… You ain’t me.” I told my girl that one time. I bought my girl diamonds and shit. I bought my girl diamonds. I get my girl nice stuff, man. And she went “Ooh, I blingin’ bigger than you!” And I go, “You couldn’t bling bigger than me if I bought you a diamond hat.”

Ron Bennington: So what is it though, Patrice? What’s keeping you from getting to the place in comedy you think you should be?

Patrice O’Neal: And that’s – see that right there’s the thing I gotta fight, Ron. Is where I should be. ‘Cause there’s no…I don’t deserve…or supposed to get anything. You know, it’s the journey I’m on and whatever happens, man, happens.

Ron Bennington: Right.

Patrice O’Neal: But growing up, when you walk into an office dude, and it’s this little dude that you’ve never talked to in your life. Like here’s what I hate – and a couple people did it here. Why do I have to be nice to you at six in the morning if that’s not what I do? If you go “Hiiiiii! Listen!” and I just want to give you a little bit… Why don’t we build up? Because if you start here and go “Hellloo!” it’s going to go dowwwn from there. So start off with “How are you?” and “I’m good. How are you? Listen, I’m such and such. Um, do you wanna talk about this now? Or you want to talk about it later because we’re going to have to talk about it.” But just find a way to deal with people in some honest way. I’m not passive aggressive, but I understand what passive aggressive is. It makes me sick. ‘Cause I’m aggressive. You know what I’m saying? So to say why I might not be in where I think I should be, in terms of my peers – because my peers were Dane Cook. My peers were Carlos. You know what I mean? I think less people know me, but the core, there’s a core comedy base that goes “Patrice is in there with that.”

Ron Bennington: But aren’t those guys just one move… Wasn’t one spark thing that tipped them? You know? Getting with HBO –

Patrice O’Neal: Yeah, I mean… I respect Dane but I’m not selling the drug he’s selling. I respect Carlos but I ain’t selling the drug he’s selling. I cannot sell what I’m selling to 20 year-old college girls and 18 year-old high school kids. I can’t. I just ain’t selling that. I’m going to offend people. You know what I mean? I don’t want those people to come up and go “I seen you on Web Jump! You’re gonna be great!” And I’m like, “Look… I’m calling my girl a bitch… You know? I’m racist. I’m racist against black people, I’m racist against white people. I do a lot of stuff that’s like, you know, “This is not funny. This is not fun. This is just… I don’t know. What is he doing?!” And then I’m like “Well, get the fuck out. I don’t want you here anyway.” And so it ended up being this many people at the show, by the end of the show. But I want them to be part of my hundred thousand. You know? So I say “You know, maybe it’s a misunderstanding, but I’ll take a lot of blame for a lot of stuff.”

Ron Bennington: Everybody should be able to say whatever they want…

Patrice O’Neal: Whatever they want, whenever they want. And that’s why my big thing on Fox was… white people ain’t the oppressor no more. It’s almost like we need a new platform. We need a new thing. I think we’re getting lazy.  We did the 60s, we got hope and came through that. And now we’re now and we just want to attack anybody that “Uh! Oh! ‘Nigger!’ Uh oh. Get him!” Like, I don’t even know what that means any more. I think Malcolm X and anybody else who fought for those times, a million names, it’s like we could do better.

Ron Bennington: Well, I mean, Pryor is a guy who turned his back on that word and said “I’ll never use it again.” Paul Mooney…

Patrice O’Neal: Because of his own personal – What it meant to him when he want down there and he saw… Now when I listen to Pryor say that, now… I watch Africans – First of all, I don’t look at Africans and go “They’re us.”

Ron Bennington: Right. Not feeling that.

Patrice O’Neal: I’m not feeling it. I’m not feeling… He stopped calling, saying the word “nigger” because he went to Africa and had a moment.  If I ever go to Africa and have a moment, that may happen, but I haven’t had a moment. I know Africans that don’t like black Americans. Africans don’t look at rap and go “Look what we did.” Know what I’m saying? “Those people, the Americans.” They don’t like us. See, what I believe this to be, and I don’t even have it all fully… So it could come out crazy. But… I think black people are adaptations of Africans. Africans ain’t even Africans no more. Africans that we trying to get back to, the kings and queens – they don’t even have those in Africa no more. Bunch of dictators and thieves and 10 year-olds with AK-47s. That’s what I see. I’m sure there’s a Garden of Eden somewhere that they don’t show on Fox. But what I see is – And the attitude here when they selling Oakley’s outside and they don’t like me. You know? So my thing is I believe that we are a brand new species and we’re learning how to be that. And while we’re learning how to be that, we should shut the fuck up. We should shut up and learn how to be us, then we can come challenge white people. White people are all fine being white people. Black people, our entire existence is based on how we relate to white folks. I hate that shit. Because I don’t look at white people like my oppressor, dude. You can be smarter, I’ll listen to you. I’ll be like “God damn, that motherfucker is smart.” And I go “I don’t think I’m as learned as you. But I don’t feel inferior.” I’m like “Tell me something.” You don’t see me on Fox trying to go “See, and the constriction of the situation…” Because I don’t have access to that many words in the dictionary. So I’m doing me!

Ron Bennington: Right.

Patrice O’Neal: I have an opinion. I never respect people who read something and then repeat it back to me, like that’s intelligence. I like somebody that takes what they read and then they come up with some abstract thought of their own. That’s impressive. Being informed is not impressive to me. “Well you didn’t hear what happened in Uganda?!” “Nope. Not really, nigger. I have trouble paying my car note. I heard what happed to Chris Benoit because I’m a wrestling fan. I’m not a Ugandan fan, so I don’t look out for Uganda. Whatever. It is what it is.

Ron Bennington: I gotta agree with you there. Everything you said. Now you brought up Chris Benoit. You worked for the WWE for a while, right?

Patrice O’Neal: Yeah. For very short, but it was fun because I love wrestling, man. I still love it. It’s still like, almost having a… You know, if you’re a Whitney Houston fan and from time to time you’ll just look to see if she’s coming back? Because you remember how wonderful she was and you kind go “Come on Whitney. You got it today?” That’s me and wrestling.

Ron Bennington: Right. You always look back and check on it.

Patrice O’Neal:  Vince McMahon was – I was awe-struck by this dude. The one thing I took away from him, just being in his presence – he never made you feel stupid for saying something. You would say “What about this? What about if Rikishi uh, wore a big sombrero… and then he juggled and then a midget came down with a stick?” He would go “Hmmm. No, don’t think that would work.” And he would tell you why it wouldn’t work, and you’d be like “Alright, cool.” And your whole creative juice is like “Oh man, he didn’t make me feel like an ass for that!” And then you say something eventually after ten that works! And you use it! And you’re like “Oh!” That dude was amazing, man. That dude, I love that dude. And I bet you I only loved him because of those three or four days I was there. I got in and out. And that’s what I like to do for people who I respect. I don’t like to meet them. Never met George Carlin, don’t want to meet him. Glad I never met Pryor. Because I don’t want to be disappointed. I don’t want the dude to not be who I think they are. But Vince lived up to what he was for those couple of days I was there, and I got out of there. You know? I got right out of there, man. I was happy. That was great. That was another one of those five.

Ron Bennington: One of the five.

Patrice O’Neal: England, that little stint on the WWF, HBO special… I think my Fox thing with the lady was one of my five.

Ron Bennington: If you could get that wish, where would you like to be if it’s five years from now? And I can honestly say, sitting here talking to you – I honestly see you as a guy doing more than just making people laugh. I see that the truth matters to you a lot. And I know that you’re on your own kind of path here, but what kind of payback would be fair?

Patrice O’Neal: Compensation for fifteen years? Just straight compensation? Give me 20 mil. So, 20 mil would be good compensation, dude.

Ron Bennington: It isn’t so much what happened, but as long as you end up with 20 million?

Patrice O’Neal: 20 million will do. Just a pay-off. Just take the 20 mil and –

Ron Bennington: And could we get you to just walk away with that 20 mil?

Patrice O’Neal: Let me tell you something dude – I would do a lot of… I’d be an emotional philanthropist. I wouldn’t give away my 20 mil until I wouldn’t have any more. I would go around and just champion people who just need somebody to talk shit to somebody. Special interest groups… You know, advertisers. I would just be annoying. Because then I wouldn’t have anything to lose. I would have it hidden. And I’ll keep it in the mattress, too. Just in case-

Ron Bennington: You’ll walk the Earth like a comedic Kung Fu. Spreading good cheer wherever you have to go.

Patrice O’Neal: If I can get famous enough to sell out this place, Ron, everywhere I go just everybody will know they’re about ready to have a good time. Somebody might walk out, but they’re just gonna get some weird feeling out of it like “Oh man, that was awful but it was great. It was something.” Like, you know, that’s why there’s no great comedians. There hasn’t been a Pryor or a Carlin, in terms of his relevance, since them.

Ron Bennington: See, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do here. Because I’ll tell you the truth, Patrice, and I’m not sure if your whole audience gets it, but I do think that you’re onto something. I do think that you have things to say, besides the jokes.

Patrice O’Neal:  It’s tough. It’s like… You know, I think – I’m not impressed with “making it.” But at the same time, Ron, I don’t want to be no martyr, either. I hate when people – I’d rather somebody come up to me and go “You suck,” other than going “You’re the best comic I’ve ever seen.” And then I dig in my pockets and go “Really? Really? Who’s some of the worst you’ve ever seen? Famous, famous, they all suck.” Well, they all got money. That’s my struggle, alright, I’m just gonna do it for the money. Because my mother and everybody wants me to do it for the money. My mother gets all like slavery. Because she grew up in the 60s, 70s. So she’s like “Don’t make ‘em mad. Don’t do that. Don’t say that. Don’t go on Fox TV and say those things. You don’t do that.” I’m like “Mom, what? Who are you?” That’s because she’s a general. She done did it. She’s done. She don’t have it in her no more, and I’m – That’s what I’m hoping, is that I don’t get to that point where I’m just done and I’m done. And I’m like “I don’t have no more fight.” And you gotta fight.

Ron Bennington:  You know what we need, Patrice? We need you to keep fighting. Patrice O’Neal.


Patrice O’Neal passed away on November 29, 2011.

You can hear the entire interview with Patrice O’Neal on SiriusXM satellite radio and you can also listen to it here for a limited time.

Purchase Patrice’s CD Mr. P on iTunes and on