Patrice O’Neal (1969 – 2011)
“I like who likes me”
It has been one year to the day since we lost Patrice O’Neal. I cannot fully sum up the impact he has had on everyone in the comedy world, or to others in their own lives accurately, but I can tell you where he is at in my life. Nothing I can say here can fully do him justice, but hopefully it will give you insight about how one man can change one persons life without even knowing it.
I got to know Patrice initially from the Opie and Anthony show on SiriusXM. Unfortunately I got onto the O&A train late into the party (just a little over a year ago), but was hooked right from the start. It was from O&A that I listened to Patrice, and then started looking up his older appearances on YouTube, and that got me into it even more. When it was announced in late October of last year that he had suffered a stroke, I like many others was hoping he would pull through, but I never thought it would be the end. When the news finally broke about Patrice dying, I was hurt. The last time I actually got upset about a comedian leaving too soon was Chris Farley, but I was just a kid at the time. This one was a deeper loss, like you actually couldn’t replace what was gone. Reflecting, and listening to more and more Patrice, I have come to the conclusion that this couldn’t be more accurate. There really was no one like Patrice, the way he could convince people his points, his take on just about every single thing out there, the way he could command an audience (even if it was just the guys in the studio), everything. In a basic word, genius.
The impact Patrice has had on my life specifically is on different levels. Before I go into what he has impacted let me explain some things about myself. I am what many consider to be the nice guy, I didn’t question things outloud for fear of upsetting people. Women, faith, politics, etc, these were things I had thoughts on, but didn’t want to rock the boat or offend. Basically a wimpy loser. To add to that, I was well over 300 pounds, which makes it really hard to score any type of female because I really added nothing desirable. To add to all of that, at the time of Patrice’s death I was 29, now 30, so you add in all those feelings of getting old, and life not meeting expectations.
One of the first things that helped mold me around was Patrice’s take on women. You can look it up on YouTube, but there are a couple of things out there where he takes on relationships, what he feels men have lost, what women really want, and puts it in ways that initially come off as misogynistic, but if you really break it down, it is spot on. I used to think that most women want only assholes and never go for the nice guy, but what I never thought was that they just want a King. People accused Patrice about the way he delivered his thoughts regarding women, thinking that he was a mean awful man to his woman, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The tone can be rough, but then I remember that real truths can come off that way.
“You think because its the tone or what I’m saying that I walk around, shove my girlfriend’s head in the toilet when we aren’t having sex, but its a direction thing..if you don’t give your girl direction, she’ll give herself direction..” (O&A appearance 2/24/06)
Patrice also mentioned that the way he treats relationships is that he isn’t telling women how to live their life, he just isn’t allowing his woman to control his. Being a man, a king, is really what you need to strive for. I’ve heard a lot of these points from others before, but never put so brilliantly by one person.
Questioning everything is another point. Patrice was a man who was into a lot of conspiracy in government, healthcare, business, everyday life. He was able to break down things into the basics of common sense. Why we get into wars, why we are supposed to like products, music and movies, phones, I haven’t seen someone question things as much as he did.
“When there is one little question that makes you go what? That we don’t galvanize and say no, no, no you are not allowed to say anything else till we cover this…give me a straight answer..” (O&A appearance 5/10/11)
It seemed in my opinion that this was the genesis of everything that went on with Patrice’s mind. Stop, think a moment, and break it down..does this sound logical? It helped me to slow the pace down a little and think more about the stuff surrounding my life. Not only that but his take on nice vs mean, what we consider bullying, where we are as a society falling apart a little because we all are concerned about feelings instead of what needs to be said.
“This is my question for life..Are we retiring sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me? Is it legal for me to say that I endorse hate speech? Why can’t I hate you in speech? ” (O&A appearance 6/15/11)
That seems like the prelude to something bad, but in truth why is it that we can’t call people out on their horseshit? Why does everything these days have to be delivered with feathered pillows instead of what it needs to be delivered with? Patrice stood up for the right to say what you feel, as long as you are not physically harming someone you should be able to say it. Again these are things that I thought of, but never really practiced because of the fear of offending. I’m still working on shedding the last little parts, but for the most part my messages are getting more blunt, more direct, and not frivolous or mean just for the sake of being an asshole.
In my family my younger brother has had this attitude a bit, something I always was jealous of, but not really knowing how to get out of it. I am now able to be on that level, because a lot of these things show confidence, that you are not a person who can just be trampled on, that your voice actually matters.
I knew that this man’s words have changed things in my life when talking to one of my best friends Will. He said he could see the change in my attitude, in my thought process, and how it was nice to see I was opening up more on new ideas. I have grown more confident because of it, and I owe a huge part of it to Patrice O’Neal.
The last thing that changed for me regarding the impact of Patrice was his health. Patrice suffered from a stroke, and had suffered from diabetes throughout his life. As I mentioned earlier last year I was over 300 pounds (specifically 332) when I started to try and turn it around. I decided that if I wanted to continue to be around to enjoy what I got, to make myself more marketable to people in certain ways, that this had to go away. I mentioned to anyone who asked that I was losing this weight for me, and that is true, but I am also in this process as a way to honor Patrice. As of this moment as I write this, I am 191 pounds. I met my initial goal of 200 a little over a month ago, now I’m working on toning it up and getting down to 175 which would mean I was clinically in shape. I am going to do everything I can to keep this off, and never get back to that horrific shape. I like to say that old version of me is dead now, never to return.
This has been a big rambling set of words, even I understand that, but as a first post I want to get this all out. There really are not enough words out there that can put how Patrice O’Neal has impacted my life, but I am hoping this will do. If nothing else, take the time to listen to this man, or help support his family by purchasing his works (listed below). We all can learn from Patrice.
Gone but not forgotten, rest in peace Mr. P.
Patrice O’Neal benefit in New York 2/19/2013