Patrice Lumumba Malcolm Oneal (December 7, 1969 – November 29, 2011), usually credited as Patrice O’Neal, was an American stand-up comedian, radio personality, and actor. He was known for his cutting, often confrontational crowd work during which he often played couples against each other. Originally from Boston, he was a resident of Jersey City, New Jersey in his later years.
O’Neal began his comedy career in his native Boston at an open mic at Estelle’s Bar and Grill in October 1992. In the late 1990′s, he moved to NYC, where he became a regular at the Comedy Cellar, before relocating to Los Angeles, in the hopes of finding greater fame. “I tap danced like you wouldn’t believe… trying to get something,” he said in a 2008 interview with Ron Bennington . “I’m telling you, if I’d have had a gun back then, I would have shot myself.” His inability to achieve success on other people’s terms motivated him to prioritize his own integrity first. “At the end of the day I just want to know that I was true to myself.” Later in his career, Patrice would walk away from successful shows like The Office, Arrested Development, Web Junk 20, and a writing position on the WWE. “I’m a professional bridge-burner,” O’Neal stated in an interview.
Unwilling to yield to the demands of American club owners that he change his often confrontational act, O’Neal relocated to the United Kingdom to work on his comedy there. He worked harder as an outsider and a foreigner to gain the respect of his peers. “It took about 5 months… for them to go ‘Ok, this guy’s not playing around,’” he told Bennington. It was also during this time that he caught the eye of British comedian Ricky Gervais, still early in his stand-up career. Gervais frequently mentioned O’Neal as a favorite comic. He returned to the New York area in 2002 when he got the offer to do his first half-hour special for Showtime. Later that year he joined the cast of The Colin Quinn Show and then Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. The following year, he recorded a Comedy Central Presents special.
On September 19, 2011, Patrice was one of the many roasters at the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen. This would be his final television appearance before his death two months later. O’Neal’s final recorded interview was with Jay Mohr on his “Mohr Stories” Podcast #17, uploaded October 27th, 2011, shortly after news of his stroke.
Not long after O’Neal’s passing, BSeen Media announced the release of a new album – the comedian’s first – to be released in February 2012. It was recorded at the D.C. Improv. Although announced after his death, the album had been completed before his illness, with the comedian’s full involvement.Share on Facebook