Monday, March 20, 2006

Paul Mooney

Of all the great things Dave Chappelle has accomplished (and yes, there is more than one), bringing Paul Mooney to the world may have been the greatest one.

If you watched "Chappelle's Show," you know that Mooney appeared in two incarnations: first as himself, in the great "Ask Paul Mooney" segments, and later in the even better sketches as Negrodamus.

When I first saw him I had never heard of him, but I was instantly intrigued. Then, while shopping at the fabulous Agora in Athens, I found a used copy of his album "Race" on cassette. It's not the kind of thing you want to listen to on a crowded street, but as long there aren't a lot of easily offended people within earshot, Mooney's standup is fearless, very foul and often very funny.

Think of how far Chappelle pushed the envelope on his show, and then just keep going, going and going. Eventually, if you go far enough, you'll reach the end of the fringe and meet Mr. Mooney. And he'll probably have something insulting to say to you.

Mooney has been observing the role of race in America for more than 30 years now both on stage and as a writer for Richard Pryor and others. Remember how Pryor shocked the world with his liberal use of the "n-word" on stage? Mooney is 10 times more in your face and, in my opinion, even funnier.

The comedian I would most closely associate him with is the late Bill Hicks, as they both spared noone and nothing in their monologues.

If your sensibility can take it, Mooney's "Analyzing White America," a standup performance, is out Tuesday on DVD and is available for only $9.99 at Amazon. Check it out.

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