In 1969, Patrice O’Neal got his start in a uterus. Later… he grew up in Boston and developed an interest in stand-up comedy at a young age, first performing in 1992 when his act mainly focused on conversations with his audience.
He was born in New York City, and 22 years later, he began his comedy career in Boston, Massachusetts where he grew up since he was one year old. Prior to his calling from God to pursue comedy, he held many other jobs that could have been more lucrative.
For instance, sausage cart vendor at Ruggles Street train station, selling flowers out of a bucket on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester, and at the pinnacle of his earning potential, he sold popcorn and peanuts at the old Boston Garden Arena. In addition to a flourishing popcorn career, O’Neal was also a world-class High School athlete at West Roxbury High School.
Ending his career with 3 letters in varsity football, and a state championship senior year. During this time, an overwhelming amount of Division 3 and community college football scholarship offers poured in. All of which were turned down to attend North Eastern University on a public housing grant. For the next 4 years, Patrice took great measures to trick his mother into believing he was attending classes regularly.
During a cool, clear night in October of 1992, Patrice attended an open mic comedy night at Estelle’s Bar and Grill on Tremont Street where he decided to heckle one of the comics on stage. He challenged O’Neal to perform on stage at the next open mic night. The following week, the universe would change forever.
After conquering the Boston comedy circuit in just under 6 years, Patrice took his comedic gifts to New York City. Once there, Hollywood soon called. O’Neal’s first of many television appearances was on The Apollo Comedy Hour where he performed his now famous Malcolm XXL bit.
From there, he moved on to prestigious appearances on Showtime at the Apollo, Friday Night Videos, and a brief stint as a writer for the WWE. O’Neal had a string of TV guest star appearances on MTV’s Apt 2F, Assy McGee, Ed, Z Rock, Yes Dear, Arrested Development, Chappelle Show and The Office.
O’Neal was a regular on the FOX series The Jury, and he starred in the Comedy Central animated program Shorties Watching Shorties, along with Nick DiPaolo. He supplied the voice of Harold Jenkins on Noggin’s animated program O’Grady High and was featured as Jesus in Denis Leary’s Contest Searchlight.
Patrice made his Def Comedy Jam debut in 2007, but had 3 prior half hour comedy specials with Showtime, Comedy Central, and HBO. He’s had many appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote his ground breaking VH1 series Web Junk 20. Additionally, O’Neal is the measure of excellence on the many talking head comment shows littering the airwaves.
O’Neal has also made occasional appearances on various Fox News shows like Hannity and Colmes to discuss issues regarding both race and censorship. But, of all the many television appearances to date, his favorite is Comedy Central’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.
In addition, O’Neal’s movie appearances include Head of State, In the Cut, 25th Hour, Furry Vengeance, and deleted scenes from Scary Movie 4 and When in Rome. With his dominance of television and film, the natural transition to radio was inevitable. O’Neal is a frequent guest on the popular Opie and Anthony radio show, and had his own hit weekly relationship advice program entitled The Black Phillip Show.
Reluctantly, he has made his presence on the internet more available with Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Patriceoneal.com, Google, and hundreds of Youtube videos, including the under valued greatness of The Patrice O’Neal Show – Coming Soon web series. In 2011, Patrice released his first hour Comedy Central stand-up comedy special “Elephant in the Room”.
On October 19, 2011, O'Neal reported being unable to move his legs. He was rushed to Jersey City Medical Center, and later Englewood Hospital, where doctors performed surgery to remove a blood clot. He lost his ability to speak, and later his ability to move, for a time communicating by eye movements before losing that ability as well. Doctors warned that if he survived, he would likely remain permanently paralyzed and unable to speak.
Initially, the family made efforts to keep news of O'Neal's illness quiet. On October 26, 2011, it was announced to the public on The Opie and Anthony Show that O'Neal had suffered a stroke a week earlier. At 7:00 am on November 29, 2011, he died from complications from his stroke. O'Neal was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes while in his early twenties, and also struggled with weight issues for years. He is survived by his longtime partner (whom he often referred to as his wife) Vondecarlo Brown, mother Georgia, stepdaughter Aymilyon, and sister Zinder.
His funeral was held on December 5, two days before what would have been his 42nd birthday, at Park Avenue Christian Church, in New York City, and was attended by, among others, Chris Rock, Colin Quinn, Nick DiPaolo, Artie Lange, Louis C.K., Jim Norton, Dane Cook, Bill Burr, Wanda Sykes, Opie Hughes, Anthony Cumia, and Kevin Hart.
December 7, 1969
November 29, 2011
- O’Neal was named after Patrice Lumumba, the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo.
- O’Neal was recruited to play football for Northeastern University football, but quit football to study theatre arts.
- O’Neal’s first television appearance came on The Apollo Comedy Hour, where he performed Malcolm XXL. From there, he moved on to Showtime at the Apollo and various other television appearances.
- O’Neal worked a brief stint as a writer and creative team member for WWE, the professional wrestling company started by Vince McMahon.
- O’Neal appeared on Chappelle’s Show during its first season, starring as a character named Pit Bull.
- In 2010, O’Neal was denied entry into Canada because of a statutory rape case that dated back to 1986 when he was 16.
- O’Neal starred as the voice of Jeffron James, a character on an in-game radio show in Grand Theft Auto IV.