“Don’t be mad about it. Don’t be mad!”
That’s Patrice O’Neal, a few minutes into a bit in which he explains how men are better than women, pleading his case to the women in the comedy club audience. In this case, the audience is at the D.C. Improv on April 17, 2011, seven months before O’Neal died at the age of 41 from complications of a stroke.
For anyone who read articles or blog posts that called the late comedian out as a misogynist, or who wrote those criticisms about O’Neal, “Better Than You,” a 20-minute EP released posthumously by BSeen Media this week gives comedy fans a chance to see how his mind worked, as well as how his ability to actually keep discussions real and relevant made believers out of even those who disagreed with him.
“Better Than You” was recorded during the same weekend of shows that produced Mr. P, the posthumous album that hit #35 on the Billboard 200 chart.
BSeen’s Jason Riggs explained that “Better Than You” was one of a few additional segments O’Neal performed and approved for inclusion onto Mr. P but were too long to fit onto the album, which itself was one 74-minute unedited set from his Friday night show that April.
His widow, Vondecarlo Brown, added: “The truth is Patrice wanted the Friday show (Mr. P) in its most natural form without any major edits. The ‘Better Than You’ bit was a difficult decision to leave out, and we went back and forth about it for a while. In the end, he said, hey maybe we will use it in some other way later after we release it how it is. That ‘some other way’ was bonus material at the end of the CD I assumed at the time. The ‘Better Than You’ track was from the Sunday show if my memory serves, and Mr P is the Friday show. Again, it was important for Patrice to release the project in its most natural form, and yes, I do feel it is important for people to hear all of his work; specifically bits he felt he would use in some way himself.”
O’Neal had small roles in several shows and movies, gained national spotlight on Comedy Central’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and VH1’s Web Junk 20, and recorded stand-up specials on HBO, Comedy Central and Showtime. It wasn’t until the year before his death, however, that more mainstream audiences began to recognize and appreciate O’Neal — when he appeared on The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen and released his first full-length CD/DVD, Elephant in the Room.
“Better Than You” opens without warning as O’Neal says simply: “Tiger Woods, why I love him.” Over the next 20 minutes, O’Neal goes on to explain how important it is for women to know that a man already has gotten his womanizing and selfishness out of his system. “If he says no, do not marry him. He ain’t ready yet! He has to womanize in order to be faithful.” This is just as true for any man, as well as for any woman who could fall victim to this womanizing, and he justifies this by reminding the audience that men even have cheated on Halle Berry. As he was wont to do, O’Neal seeks out the women in the audience that night to address them and their concerns personally. He gets to his own deeper truth about men and their pursuit of women for sex and reproduction — that you can neither be humble nor arrogant, but that you have to be both at the same time. Within 20 minutes, he has women groaning or putting their thumbs down in front of him, to laughing and engaging him in lively conversation. And just like that, in mid-conversation, the track ends. It’s all much too abrupt, this ending. Much like O’Neal’s life ended all too abruptly.
We’re left wanting much more.
You can listen to part of Patrice O’Neal’s “Better Than You” here:
Buy the “Better Than You” EP via iTunes or Amazon: