The phone rang and Paul Mooney answered as if his alarm had gone off. It wasn’t too early in New York, but maybe a little early for a 70-year-old comedian who’s almost always on the road, making people laugh. It didn’t take him long to find his voice.
“White people are the new niggas. I hope they start hanging niggas again. That’ll let me know who’s white.” (And no, I didn’t ask him about not using the “n-word” again, even though he said he wouldn’t after the Michael Richards incident.) That was in response to a question about the state of black comedians today. Black America Web recently posted an article asking No More royals: Are Black Comics Still Relevant?
Mooney, in answering that question, says shows like Saturday Night Live and others like it don’t need black comedians anymore because “white people are blacker than me.”. He calls them wiggers adding that “Black Is The New White”, which happens to be the name of his 2009 book, co-written by Dave Chapelle. It’s all about his comedy career that started with Richard Pryor forty years ago.
“White people are the new niggas. I hope they start hanging niggas again. That’ll let me know who’s white.”
This Louisiana-born, California-raised comedian has written for and performed with some of the best known names in comedy. Mooney spent years writing jokes and sketches for Richard Pryor. Some of them ended up on “The Richard Pryor Show” and on “Saturday Night Live.” He wrote for “Good Times” and “Sanford and Son” and was the head writer for the first year of Fox’s “In Living Color,” where he created Homey the Clown. He’s been in a few movies, taped comedy concerts and received a Grammy nomination for his first comedy album “Race.” Let’s not forget Mooney’s most endearing character: Negrodamus from Dave Chapelle’s Show on Comedy Central.
So why is he still doing Stand-up on the road, week after week in a different town making people laugh? Mooney says people ask for him, he goes and he loves it.
And here’s more on the question about being black, a comedian and relevant. Mooney says that has nothing to do with him. He says he’s still the comedian he’s always been after all these years, he just changes the names to reflect the times. Names like President Obama, Oprah or anyone “you can’t escape from.” The bottom line in his comedy message is that we “all should love one another because we’re all we have and the rest is an illusion.”
Mooney made them laugh out loud on the first night of a three-night stand at the Cap City Comedy Club in Austin, Wednesday night, July 27th. The house was 85 percent full – which equates to a sold-out show on a Wednesday night. He mercilessly and hilariously criticized everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Jews, to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Baby Mama to President Obama. Between sips of Hennessy, he also made devilish fun of the differences between whites and African-Americans.
He wasn’t as successful with this mostly White under-35 audience on some topics, such as talking about the days when television used to go off. (Did it used to do that?) If you go, keep in mind that Mooney has plenty to say. After the opening comedian, Chris Cubas, finished his set, Mooney talked for at least 90 minutes.
Mooney performs through July 30th at Cap City Comedy Club. He celebrates his 7th decade of living on August 4th – so be sure to wish him happy birthday!