Oft, in this time, the role of comedy in “speaking truth to power” has been highlighted even at times when it would seem that nothing is all that funny (pandemic, global reckoning with white supremacy, climate change, etc. all at the same time). Paul Mooney is a comedian who truly embodied that ideal to the nth degree even at the occasional risk of making some audiences uncomfortable (as comedy that is satire sometimes does in order to make an undeniably salient point).
From writing for Richard Pryor to being the head writer of In Living Color to being the “black dude” in Chapelle’s Show‘s segment “Ask a Black Dude”, Mooney seemingly never backed down by holding society’s feet to the fire, especially when it calling out white supremacy, through his comedy. Ask a Black Dude was our very first exposure to Mooney and it was so striking that there was an even more sharply drawn, yet more calmly delivered voice on Chapelle’s Show than Dave Chappelle himself.
After passing away from heart attack at 79 in Oakland, CA earlier today, we say rest in power, Paul Mooney.