OK so you like comedy? Well if you like Richard, Chappelle, Eddie, or anyone who’s come up in the black comedy world in since the 60s there you will find “Paul Mooney” who is probably the most underrated stand up writing comedians of all times! He was an American comedian, writer, social critic, and actor, best known as a writer for comedian Richard Pryor, playing singer Sam Cooke in The Buddy Holly Story (1978), Junebug in Bamboozled (2000), and his appearances on Chappelle’s Show.
Mooney was born in 1941 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and moved to Oakland, California, seven years later. His parents were George Gladney and LaVoya Ealy. Mooney was raised primarily by his grandmother Aimay Ealy, known among the family as “Mama”. Gladney coined the nickname “Mooney” after the original Scarface (1932) actor Paul Muni.
Mooney became a ringmaster with the Gatti-Charles Circus. During his stint as ringmaster, he always found himself writing comedy and telling jokes, which later helped Mooney land his first professional work as a writer for Richard Pryor.
Mooney wrote some of Pryor’s routines for his appearance on Saturday Night Live, co-wrote his material for the Live on the Sunset Strip, Bicentennial Nigger, and Is It Something I Said albums, and Pryor’s film Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. As the head writer for The Richard Pryor Show, he gave many young comics, such as Robin Williams, Sandra Bernhard, Marsha Warfield, John Witherspoon, and Tim Reid, their first break into show business.
Mooney also wrote for Redd Foxx‘s Sanford and Son and Good Times, acted in several cult classics including Which Way Is Up?, Bustin’ Loose, Hollywood Shuffle, and portrayed singer/songwriter Sam Cooke in The Buddy Holly Story.
He was the head writer for the first year of Fox‘s In Living Color, inspiring the character Homey D. Clown, played by Damon Wayans. Mooney later went on to play Wayans’ father in the Spike Lee film Bamboozled as the comedian Junebug.
Mooney initially appeared in the sketches “Ask a Black Dude” and “Mooney at the Movies” on Comedy Central‘s Chappelle’s Show. He later appeared as Negrodamus, an African American version of Nostradamus. As Negrodamus, Mooney ad-libbed the “answers to life’s most unsolvable mysteries” such as “Why do white people love Wayne Brady?” (Answer: “Because Wayne Brady makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X.”) Mooney was planning to reprise his role as Negrodamus in the third season of the Chappelle’s Show, before Dave Chappelle left the show due to stress.
In 2006, Mooney hosted the BET tribute to Black History Month titled 25 Most @#%! Moments in Black History. In this show, he narrated some of the most shameful incidents involving African Americans since 1980. The top 25 moments included incidents involving Marion Barry, Terrell Owens, Wilson Goode, Michael Jackson, Flavor Flav, Whitney Houston, and Tupac Shakur.
In 2007, Mooney released his first book, the memoir Black Is the New White. In November 2014, Paul’s brother announced that Mooney had prostate cancer Mooney continued to tour, and perform his stand-up comedy act. Now in 2021 the legend has left us and the comedy gods are in tears, and not from laughing but because the world just got not just a bit more boring but it became a bit more silenced to the reality of the world as Paul was a voice not just for black America but at times for all Americans. This was a really brilliant man we lost.