Comedian Patrice O’Neal dies at 41

Patrice O’Neal (41) a veteran stand-up comic who gained a wider following through TV and radio and helped roast Charlie Sheen in September, died Tuesday from complications of a stroke he suffered last month. O’Neal’s manager (Jonathan Brandstein) said he died at a New York-area hospital.
O’Neal grew up in Boston and started his stand-up career there. He appeared on Conan O’Brien and David Letterman’s late-night TV shows and was a frequent guest on the “Opie & Anthony” radio show on Sirius XM.
His performance was a highlight of the Comedy Central roast of Sheen, who had been fired from the hit CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men.”
O’Neal had half-hour specials on Showtime and HBO and was the host of “Web Junk 20″ on VH1. He also acted in the TV series “Arrested Development,” “Chappelle’s Show” and “The Office.”
O’Neal (who was 6 feet 5) weighed about 300 pounds and had diabetes, suffered a stroke October 19.

Comedian Patrice O'Neal dies at 41
Patrice O'Neal.

Comedian Patrice O’Neal (who made fans laugh with jokes about race and his jumbo size) died Tuesday, little more than a month after suffering a massive stroke. He was only 41.
“The entertainment world, as well as the world at large, lost a brilliant man” – said bad-boy actor Charlie Sheen, whom O’Neal helped roast in a Comedy Central special earlier this year.
“I only knew him for the few days leading up to the Roast. Yet, I will forever be inspired by his nobility, his grace and his epic talent” – Sheen said.
O’Neal’s agent, Matt Frost, confirmed the funnyman’s death in a statement, and extended thanks to fans and friends who expressed support as he battled for his life following the stroke on October 19.
Frost said O’Neal’s mother and best friend, Gloria, was at his side when he died.
He was a frequent guest on the “Opie and Anthony” show on Sirius XM radio, and the hosts were the first to broadcast news of O’Neal’s death.
“Yes, it’s true that our pal Patrice O’Neal has passed away. The funniest and best thinker I’ve ever known PERIOD” – Gregg (Opie) Hughes later posted on Twitter.
Born in Boston, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound O’Neal had struggled with diabetes for much of his adult life.
He lived in Jersey City and was a longtime fixture on the New York and Los Angeles comedy scenes.
He appeared in films, including “Scary Movie 4″ and “Furry Vengeance,” and hosted the Vh1 show “Web Junk 20.” In February, he performed solo in an HBO special, “Elephant in the Room.”
O’Neal also appeared on “Chappelle’s Show,” “The Colin Quinn Show,” “The Office,” “Arrested Development,” “Late Show with David Letterman” and “Conan.”

Patrice O’Neal, a stand-up comedian who boisterously took on controversial topics like race, AIDS and his own struggle with diabetes, died on Tuesday. He was 41 and lived in New Jersey.
He died in a hospital in the New York City area from complications of a stroke he suffered on October 19, his agent, Matt Frost, said.
“See, I’ve got to lose weight now to stay alive, and that’s not enough motivation for me” – Mr. O’Neal said in one of his television specials on Comedy Central.
At 6-foot-4 and about 300 pounds, Mr. O’Neal commanded the stage with not only his bulk but also his penchant for flashy clothing and chains, and his confrontational style. He was loud and unpredictable, frequently veering away from prepared material with a curse-laden segue.
Mr. O’Neal’s reputation for brash honesty led many to call him a comic’s comic. He could alienate audiences and celebrities alike, both of whom he mocked relentlessly.
He was quick to dismiss his detractors. “Liars don’t like me” – he told Punchline magazine, which covers the comedy world. “They don’t want to be given anything straight.”
He did not spare himself – his size and his diabetes were often incorporated into his act.
Mr. O’Neal had a career most comedians would envy. He had stand-up specials on HBO as well as Comedy Central and appeared on television comedies like Michael Hurwitz’s lauded “Arrested Development,” NBC’s version of “The Office” and Dave Chappelle’s hit Comedy Central sketch series, “Chappelle’s Show.” He also performed regularly on the “Opie & Anthony” satellite radio show.
Mr. O’Neal appeared in a handful of movies, including the Spike Lee drama “The 25th Hour” (2002), released a stand-up album and DVD, “Elephant in the Room” (2011), and was co-host of the short-lived Comedy Central show “Shorties Watchin’ Shorties,” which featured the voices of comedians like Dane Cook, Denis Leary and Greg Giraldo riffing as animated babies.
His last widely viewed performance was at the Comedy Central roast of the actor Charlie Sheen in September. “I respect Charlie Sheen, I do” – Mr. O’Neal said, then added: “Not his body of work.”
During his set he likened Mike Tyson to Muhammad Ali, not because they were boxers but because both became acceptable to white people. And he advised Steve-O, a recovering drug addict and a star of MTV’s “Jackass,” to relapse.
Patrice Lumumba Malcolm O’Neal (he was named after the Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba, and his last name has often been spelled Oneal) was born on Dec. 7, 1969, in Boston. He began performing at open mikes there, and by the late 1990s he was working clubs in Los Angeles and New York.
He landed a guest appearance on the MTV comedy “Apt. 2F” in 1997 and worked briefly as a writer for World Wrestling Entertainment before he had his first stand-up special on Comedy Central and was seen on the short-lived sketch series “The Colin Quinn Show.”

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