OPINION: Paul Mooney, The Unsung Comedy Legend Who, Right Or Wrong, Never Backed Down From Controversy

Written by Dustin J. Seibert

Mooney focused most of his own comedy around the brutal realities of racism and its impact on the American condition; he received a Grammy nomination for his 1993 album Race. He experienced a career resurgence in the early 2000s when he was in his 60s: In 2004, he briefly had his own show, “Judge Mooney,” in which he tried actual court cases Judge Judy-style. A younger generation was introduced to Mooney through his classic “Ask a Black Man” and “Negrodamus” skits on Dave Chappelle’s groundbreaking “Chappelle’s Show.”

Mooney knew he couldn’t play the “Hollywood game” and remain true to himself and his comedy, which he essentially screamed at the world through his fictional character Junebug in Spike Lee’s 2000 film “Bamboozled.” Portraying a washed-up comic in that film, Junebug said, “I got too much pride, too much dignity…I can’t do that Hollywood stuff, man. I can’t say the stuff they want me to say.”

As is the case with any comedian worth their salt, Mooney never had a problem courting controversy and defending his routine, reminding the world that comedy should be a no-fly zone for social justice warriors.

Editor’s Note: The below video content contains objectionable language which may trigger some. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Indeed, Paul Mooney’s brand of comedy is becoming exceedingly anachronistic in a society that demands tolerance from its superstars. Watching his generation leave the mortal plane might be tantamount to watching that brand of comedy die off, which is wonderful or tragic, depending on whom you ask. Regardless of your stance on it, “Negrodamus” and every hilarious take Mooney has had on society has done its job to make people think beyond the confines of what they are normally used to. And for that reason alone, his impact will live forever.

Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at wafflecolored.com.

Photo: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

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