Crowd work, in the hands of a lesser comic, is a crutch to kill time while making the audience feel like it’s part of the act.
In the hands of an insult comic, the crowd serves a slightly more vital yet just as gimmicky role. Who are you? What do you do for a living? Something something haha look at you.
Patrice O’Neal was no insult comic. He was a giant who made most other headliners feel like lesser comics in his presence. And to him, the audience on any given night in the comedy club he inhabited would spring him to life — that big laugh/giggle/cackle bursting forth from his mouth — as he’d launch into his philosophies on sex, relationships, and even for a moment, his distrust of the government.
Such is the case on Unreleased, the newest one-hour compilation of O’Neal’s previously unheard stand-up comedy material now released posthumously. As with “Mr. P” and “Better Than You,” this hour comes from a weekend of shows in April 2011 — seven months before O’Neal died, at 41, from complications following a stroke.
In fact, the 20-minute EP “Better Than You” is effectively Track 8 of Unreleased, recorded on April 17, 2011, two nights after the “Mr. P” recording.
As you can see from the track listing below, Unreleased goes deep on sex and race. He speaks about traveling to Liverpool, about giving his girlfriend an orgasm no matter how she’s feeling toward him, about wanting to make her his wife, while also remaining insecure every time he looked at her daughter from a previous relationship. Whether confronting the woman in the audience with the chicken fingers or forcing all other audience members to reassess their attitudes toward gender roles, O’Neal proved to be the same lovable yet brutally honest guy at 41 as he was two decades earlier, when he just a kid who thought he knew better than the comedian onstage in Boston.
I miss the sonofabitch.
So, too, does anyone who loved comedy and could handle hearing the truth about themselves and the world around them.
Pre-order Unreleased by Patrice O’Neal:
Unreleased, from Gladys and Dude Productions under license to BSeenMedia, is due to hit digital stores Aug. 20 and CD stores Oct. 1 and features cover artwork by the famed graffiti artist David Choe. The proceeds from the Unreleased album go to Patrice’s family.
- 1. Intro
- 2. Confrontational Chicken Lady
- 3. Uncircumcised Penis
- 4. Old Dick vs Old Pussy
- 5. White Girl Pussy vs Black Girl Pussy
- 6. Marrying My Girl
- 7. Threesomes
- 8. Better Than You
- 9. Finger Popping Technique
- 10. Asshole Licking