Patrice O'Neal Biography
Claim to Fame: Stand-up comedian and actor
DOB: December 7, 1969
Date of Death: November 29, 2011
Diabetes Type: 2
Famous for his rude humor and tough-guy demeanor, Patrice O'Neal was a stand-up comedian and actor best known for improvisation during live performances. Always willing to include the audience in his act, O'Neil would often target an audience member and develop an exchange that would result in a series of off-the-cuff jibes and anecdotes, setting the crowd off with laughter. He has appeared in numerous television shows including: The Office, Arrested Development, Chappelle's Show, Web Junk 20, and Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.
Originally from New York City, but brought up in Boston, O'Neal began his comedy career performing at local bars and clubs. In 1992, O'Neal got his first taste of fame when he attended an open mic night at Estelle's Bar and Grill. He performed a comedy act that sent the audience roaring. After his success in Boston, O'Neal moved to New York City, where the comedy scene was more competitive and where there were greater opportunites to develop a comedy career.
In New York, O'Neal had no problem keeping pace with the other talents, performing at the Comedy Cellar, a famous comedy club in Manhattan. After a short time in the city, O'Neal relocated to Los Angeles, in the hopes that he would have further success amidst the Hollywood crowd. The move paid off and, before long, O'Neal had a steady stream of small roles in popular television shows.
However, O'Neal quickly grew tired of small part after small part. Annoyed and weary of working toward nothing, he set off to the United Kingdom where, though he had to work hard to be accepted, he received the fame he craved. In 2002, O'Neal moved back to New York to perform in a special on Showtime. He landed a spot on Comedy Central Presents, a stand-up show that highlights an individual comedian. From then on, O'Neal received offers to appear on Comedy Central shows like Chappelle's Show and Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. Upon his return, O'Neal also got involved in radio and became a regular on the Opie & Anthony Show. He has also been a reoccurring presence on The Howard Stern Show and Alex Jones.
On October 19, 2011, O'Neal suffered a stroke. The comedian had struggled with diabetes and overall poor health throughout adulthood, often using his weight as a source of humor. On November 29, 2011, O'Neal died due to complications resulting from diabetes. He is remembered for his openness, speaking candidly about his own diabetes and misspent youth not taking care of himself. In an interview with Diabetes Forecast Magazine prior to his death, O'Neal stated, "when you're in your twenties and you have type 2, even if people say, ‘You're going to start feeling the effects when you're fifty, so start taking care of yourself now,' it's like ‘Get out of here, what are talking about? I'm not gonna listen to you!'"
Despite O'Neal's difficulty with his own diabetes, he was a positive role model to people with diabetes because he made them laugh. When asked about whether or not people get upset when he talks jokingly about diabetes, O'Neal said, "I just joke about it, talk about it, and live it, and I think people feel that I'm authentic… I'm not trying to make it a real profound, standing-on-top-of-a-pulpit kind of thing, but they know that I have a truthful ethic about it, and I think they relate to that. I'm really not trying to push people — I'm just trying to be honest about my experiences, and maybe make some people laugh along the way." Patrice O'Neal's legacy of brutal honesty and crude humor has undoubtedly impacted pop culture and stand-up comedy.
Reviewed by dLife staff 12/13.
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