Paul Mooney, Trailblazing Comedian, Dies at 79

Paul Mooney, the trailblazing comedic writer and performer best known for his blunt, boundary-pushing routines about racism and social j...


Paul Mooney, the trailblazing comedic writer and performer best known for his blunt, boundary-pushing routines about racism and social justice and for his work with Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle, died on Wednesday at his home in Oakland, Calif. He was 79.

His publicist, Cassandra Williams, said the cause was a heart attack.

Mr. Mooney was a longtime friend and a frequent writing collaborator of Richard Pryor. He served as the head writer of “The Richard Pryor Show,” a short-lived comedy-variety show starring Mr. Pryor that aired on NBC in 1977, and he wrote material for Mr. Pryor’s “Saturday Night Live” appearances.

In an interview with The New York Times after Mr. Pryor’s death in 2005, Mr. Mooney described himself as Mr. Pryor’s “Black writer.”

As an actor, Mr. Mooney appeared as Sam Cooke in “The Buddy Holly Story” (1978), opposite Gary Busey in the title role, and as Junebug in Spike Lee’s satirical 2000 film “Bamboozled.”

In the early 2000s, Mr. Mooney appeared on “Chappelle’s Show,” a Comedy Central sketch show created by Mr. Chappelle and Neal Brennan, as Negrodamus. The character offered “the answers to life’s great mysteries,” such as “Why do white people like Wayne Brady so much?” The role, and another recurring “Chappelle’s Show” segment called “Ask a Black Dude,” introduced Mr. Mooney to a new generation of fans.

A message from Mr. Mooney’s official Twitter account acknowledged the news of his death on Wednesday, saying, “Thank you all from the bottom of all of our hearts …you’re all are the best!” It added, “To all in love with this great man.. many thanks.”

Tributes from Mr. Mooney’s admirers and peers began to appear on Wednesday.

“I performed with Paul on stage, worked with him on screens big and small witnessed him absolutely destroy audiences night after night after night!” the actor and comedian David Alan Grier wrote on Instagram. “I will miss your uncompromising truthful insight, intelligence, and searing wit.”

A full obituary will appear later.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Paul Mooney, Trailblazing Comedian, Dies at 79
Paul Mooney, Trailblazing Comedian, Dies at 79
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