02-15-2019  11:25 am      •     
Rob Ingram of The Skanner News
Published: 15 June 2011

Negrodamus, known to the entertainment, comedy and present world as comedian, actor, writer and ringmaster (whose ever heard of a Black ringmaster?) Paul Mooney is coming to Portland for 6 shows in four nights.  And trust me, you are going to want to get to at least two of those shows.  My advice is: make sure you are ready for a show full of fastballs and off-the-wall humor (with intellect) AND don't sit too close to the front if you are sensitive.

For any that don't know who Paul Mooney is, you probably know a lot more about him than you think.  After a job as a ringmaster for the Gatti-Charles circus, he went to work as a writer for Richard Pryor, helping to build and create some of the most influential comedy to date.  In fact, you might argue that Mooney is one of the first, and definitely one of the best to use humor to highlight politics.  He even had a show stopped in mid-stride because of jokes about former President Bush's mother looking like the Quaker oatmeal guy.  With Live on Sunset Strip, Jojo Dancer Your Life Is Calling and the Richard Pryor Show to his credits, he helped to launch the careers of Robin Williams, Sandra Bernhard, Marsha Warfield, John Witherspoon and Tim Reid.

The work of Paul Mooney stretched and manipulated the comedy world with his raw edge, mixed with smarts, rationale and most of all -- controversy.  He worked on such shows as Sanford and Son, Good Times, In Living Color and the Chappelle Show, introducing us to characters like Homey D. Clown (Homey don't play dat!), and of course the ever-popular Negrodamus -- the Black Nostradamus.  And don't forget classic movies like Bamboozled, Bustin' Loose and Hollywood Shuffle. 

With a track record like that, it's not hard to grasp the impact Paul Mooney has had on comedy, but it's pretty simple to miss his impact on society.  More often than not, we look to certain people to make us laugh, and that's it.  We don't want to hear what they have to say about things that matter, nor do we think that they actually know or even care what is going on.  But following the work and career of Paul Mooney, it is clear that he transcended humor and funny business a long time ago.  Negrodamus, like Nostradamus, was (and is) more than what people saw, thought and accepted him to be. 

Sure he offered some prophesies, but his real work was much deeper than that.  It was his sense of predictive and in depth thought that set him apart; the ability to have thoughts, approach them, challenge them, kick them around, take them apart and put them back together.  And then to have the courage to stand behind them right or wrong and defend your thoughts.  And that is what Mooney has done, except he's added to ability to have a gut-wrenching laugh at the end of all that deep thinking.   As Mooney once said, "If you scrutinize Jay Leno and David Letterman the same way you scrutinize me, then I'll agree with you, but if you don't touch them white folks don't touch me. They say whatever they want to say every night."   

But don't get it twisted; it's not all about race.  At least that's not the only topic there is to debate, even though it may have been the one that got him into the most trouble (along with cracking jokes about Diana Ross' DUI arrest, oh and of course that one about Mom Bush…).  Even Negrodamus is willing to admit his own premonitions might be off occasionally.  And after his public battle with Michael Richards from Seinfeld about the use of the n-word, Mooney had this to say: "I am no longer going to use the n-word. Instead of saying 'What's up my n----,' say 'What's up my Michael Richards.'" At a summit with Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Richards, Mooney forgave Michael.

In his first "n-word free" show after his proclamation, he made it about an hour, and then…

See Paul Mooney June15th-18th at Helium Comedy Club- 1510 SE 9th.


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