On this day in comedy on December 7, 1969, Comedian, Actor, and Radio Personality, Patrice Lumumba Malcolm O’Neal was born.
Born in New York City, O’Neal grew up in Roxbury near Boston, Massachusetts. He turned down a football scholarship to study performing arts and got his start in stand-up at Estelle’s Bar & Grill. It was an open mic and the year was 1992. After putting in time on the Boston circuit, O’Neal moved to New York and then Los Angeles. It turned out L.A. was not a good fit for an uncompromising, confrontational and controversial talent like O’Neal. So, after trying virtually every angle to achieve success he took his act overseas; to the UK. 5 months later he’d gained the respect of his British colleagues and garnered the support of the likes of Ricky Gervais.
In 2002 O’Neal returned to New York and this time things were different. H was invited back to shoot a Showtime special. He then proceeded to get a gig on the cast of Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. In 2003 O’Neal recorded a Comedy Central Presents special. He appeared on The Apollo Comedy Hour, FNight Videos, MTV’s 2F, Assy McGee, Ed, Z Rock, Yes Dear, Arrested Development, Chapppelle’s Show, The Office and as a writer for the WWE. He did animated voice-overs for Comedy Central and was a radio regular with Opie and Anthony’s Traveling Virus Comedy Tour.
O’Neal’s first hour-long acclaimed special, Elephant in the Room aired on Comedy Central in 2011. He had a popular podcast and was the voice of Jeffron James in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV. He did celebrity roasts and recorded an album. Never stagnant, Patrice O’Neal stayed active until his death from a stroke in 2011.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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