I first discovered comedian Patrice Oneal in the 90s during one of his performances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien". He was wearing a light-yellow button-up shirt (untucked) and casually walked out from behind the stage curtains. His first topic: how big he was. Like Bob Newhart before him, Oneal had one of the best comedic deliveries. With a slight hesitation, he posed as an audience member and said, "Da-da-dats a big dude." I was hooked. He didn't mind poking fun at himself but he could trash others just as badly. Some of his routines may have come across as vulgar and controversial but you couldn't help but agree with some of this points.
Before his death (aged just 41), Patrice Oneal had appeared in several popular TV series, on stage, and most regularly on radio. On television, he appeared on The Office, Arrested Development, and Chappell's Show which are among his most famous credits. For whatever his reasons may have been, his tenure on such quality programming were always short-lived. His film credits weren't as impressive but Oneal was more of a hit on stage and radio. It's there where his talent could be better utilized. I imagine on television he felt restricted, and instead preferred a media where he did not have to censor his material or accommodate the general audience.
|Michael Cera, Patrice Oneal (as T-Bone), and Alia Shawkat on Arrested Development|
He also knew how to translate people's inner monologue into words. It didn't matter how dark or strange the thought, he understood what was on most men's minds and could communicate it to the world, from the differences in men's facial reactions to a good-looking butt and good-looking breasts. And there is a difference - but only Oneal knew how best to explain it. His examples (if you can picture these) was a look of being impressed (bottom lip out and head nodding) for the former, and a look of pain (eyes closed, head turned to the side, and lips miming the word "Ooo") for the latter.
And though that topic may seem sketchy to some, the humor was more in his delivery and extensive explanations that detailed every bit of thought process, whether talking about women, marriage and dating, health concerns, or racism.
Among several other performances on HBO, Comedy Central, and on the web*, his first one-hour live performance was entitled Elephant in the Room. It aired on Comedy Central on February 19, 2011 and would be his last live performance recorded for television. His digital comedy albums Mr. P (February 2012) and Better Than You (November 2012) were released posthumously and are available on his website, iTunes, and Amazon.
Fortunately for fans new and old, Elephant in the Room is one of the best examples of an artist in his prime. It showcases everything about what makes Oneal so great - his topics, his delivery, and best of all, his hilarious point of view.
|Oneal on Elephant in the Room|
For more information and to watch clips from his performances, visit his official website: www.patriceoneal.com
* Patrice Oneal's webcast was entitled The Patrice Oneal Show - Coming Soon! and is available digitally and on DVD.
TRIVIA: Patrice Lumumba Malcolm Oneal was named after Patrice Lumumba and Malcolm X. And although credited more commonly as "Patrice O'Neal", he preferred his surname name spelled without the apostrophe.