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Paul Mooney = Funny Genius

I’m guessing the average citizen only knows Paul Mooney from the hilarious Chappelle’s Show skits he made in the early 2000’s. But if you look at the man’s resume you will see that he has been a part of nearly every important black comedy in television history (Sanford and Son, The Richard Pryor Show, In Living Color, Chapelle’s Show).

In addition to writing for television, he also performed in his own stand up specials that in my mind even surpass Richard Pryor and Chris Rock. The man is a legend and I wish he had dozens of stand-up specials for me to listen to.

But instead of just going on about how great he is, I want to share some of the lessons Paul Mooney has taught me through his jokes. Because even when he makes you laugh, Mooney is dropping university -level knowledge.

1) Don’t let others define you.

The only possible explanation I can come up with for Paul Mooney not being a superstar is his pride. He was probably offered a lot of the sidekick/servant/slave roles that most black actors get but he refused them. This man understands that Hollywood will always try to put black people into a box; and that box is usually filled with ignorance. Paul Mooney is a black man who is completely in charge of his own image. No animator would dare turn him into a donkey and he wouldn’t let them. You can’t let other people tell you who you are and what you should be. He probably missed out on some paychecks, but I don’t think he cared.

2) Say what’s in your heart.

If you ever listen to a Mooney special, you will undoubtedly hear him heckle a white person who decided to get up and leave. Sometimes he even heckles the white people who choose to stay and give him dirty looks. When Mooney tells white people jokes, it’s not your basic “white people do this” joke, he tells the truth. He holds the white privilege mirror up to the audience and some people don’t like what they see. The man is fearless and is not going to censor himself for the sake of sensitive Caucasians in the room. A lot of black people still have a slave mentality when it comes to interacting with white people. They will talk bad about other black people but treat white people like they are a superior race (see Uncle Ruckus).  If there was ever a anti-Uncle Tom, it would sound just like Mooney.

3) I am not alone

The first time I heard a real Paul Mooney joke outside of the Chappelle Show, I felt like Luke when he met Obi-Wan. It’s amazing to think that jokes Mooney told in the 90’s speak more to my experiences today than any other comedian. Not to sound like a straight up fanboy, but I find myself clapping at some of his jokes like I was in the audience too. When I’m having a terrible day and white folks are getting me down (like when the Help became a financial and critical hit) I listen to Paul Mooney. I listen and I remember that someone out there gets me.

I advice any black person reading this to listen to Paul Mooney this instant! If you’re white, you can listen too, but you’ve been warned. 



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