Patrice O’Neal is one of my teachers. Only a brilliant artist can finesse political incorrectness these days. He brought the stuff floating around in your head to light with an undeniable humor and intuition about the way the ugly truth really works in your brain. His comedy was a relief from the distasteful images burning holes in our brains amidst media pressure to think proper thoughts. Conversely, in his comedy, there was an implied sensitivity about the subjects that he ridiculed. It takes mad skills to be able to balance the two.
He didn’t play to the least common denominator, the way that a lot of comedians corralled on these “comedy” specials do. He talked about unpopular, marginal things, and you’d find yourself nodding involuntarily at them. Yes, some of his comedy made me cringe — but it was worth it. You can’t doubt his intelligence. I found him refreshing. I’d take him over any politically correct person using all the ‘proper’ lingo, etc., whose actions indicate otherwise. As a black comic, he didn’t use his comedy as an artless tool to lash out. I know his comedy wasn’t for everyone. Too bad.