Referred to as the Godfather of Comedy, comedian Paul Mooney passed away today from a heart attack in Oakland, CA. He was 79 years old. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Paul Mooney was known for pushing the boundaries particularly concerning issues of race and injustice in his comedy. Mooney is known most as a writer for Richard Pryor. He also wrote for Sanford and Son, Good Times, In Living Color, Saturday night live and most recently the Chappelle’s show.
In addition to comedic writing, Paul Mooney also acted in films The Buddy Holly Story, Hollywood Shuffle, Bamboozled and more. He saw a resurgence in his career appearing on the Chappelle’s show in various sketches, “Ask a Black Dude and as “Negrodamus” on the popular show.
Celebrities took to social media to express their condolences for the iconic comedian.
Actress Viola Davis honored the comedian saying, “Aww…. RIP comedy legend Paul Mooney! You were both funny and poignant. So happy to have witnessed your genius live. Rest well!!! Pour down some laughter here. We need it.”
Ava DuVernay said on twitter, Paul Mooney. A comedy giant. I recall listening to his RACE album in college and how formative it was. Yeah, the jokes. But more so, the freedom. He spoke freely and fearlessly about feelings and experiences, others found difficult to express. May he be truly free now. Rest, sir.”
In an interview with TMZ, Comedian Dave Chappelle said, “the best whoever did it, paved the way today, his legacy will live forever. He did everything from The Richard Pryor show to Chappelle’s Show. He’s one of the first Black people ever in the Writers Guild. Paul Mooney will be sorely missed and wildly remembered. I’ll see to that.”
Several children survive Paul Mooney. Final arrangements have not been announced.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20.