On the final album he recorded before he passed away last year, Patrice O’Neal says as he gets older his mind gets dirtier. Uh, bro, we could tell that already. Mr. P finds O’ Neal in uproariously unfettered form, attacking every single sensibility any audience member could possibly have, and getting as much joy from the “He just said what?” laughs as from the arm-crossed scolds. (It’s always good to have a few of those in the audience, he notes. Keeps it more fun.)
O’Neal’s command of the room and his material here are so locked-in that he could go on any number of impromptu runs without losing the crowd or momentum. He ribs an audience member named Tolu for several minutes about having a name that politically correct white kids probably called beautiful and black kids probably ripped him a new asshole for. He can get away with this sort of thing without seeming too jerky because, as pointed as he gets, his worldview doesn’t come off as mean. Instead, he’s pointing out that we’re all disgusting fuck-ups, he’s just being more honest about it, and he’s never afraid to turn the joke back on himself. So don’t get mad, Tolu. “If it was up to one of my goofy-ass, 80-year-old aunts, I’d be Lamumba O’Neal in this motherfucker.”
He was a fantastic potty mouth (he gets morally indignant about your disinclination to perform analingus) and was willing to hit nearly any “do not touch under any circumstances” social button (why black people shouldn’t have to pay federal taxes, how he wishes God would send him a sign as to why he should care about people dying in tsunamis, and so on). But what elevated him above being merely a particular creative shit talker was that all of his foul thoughts were getting put to a great use. After complaining that he doesn’t like TSA screenings because he’s worried that airport employees get off on touching him, he talks about how all the great leaders that have tried to unite the people were killed (Malcolm X was just fine until he moved away from hating blue-eyed devils, he notes), so he’s not even going to try to help us out. But helping everyone to get cathartic laughs by confronting thoughts they would otherwise deny was a pretty great social service.