The Love For Patrice O’Neal Lives On!
On Nov. 29, 2011 the comedy world and the world at large lost a luminous presence, … the great Patrice O’Neal. I thought of Patrice not only as a comedian but as a comedy philosopher. He had such a specific and well thought out point of view. One of my greatest honors was being named a co-host of The Black Phillip Show on XM radio, by Patrice himself.
The first night we went on the radio together was Feb. 10th 2008. It went so well that he called me that night at 4:05 in the morning, and left me a message which I keep on my phone to this day, to tell me how much he liked the show, and that we should do our own show together. But he was so humble, that when you listen to the phone call (below) you’ll hear him say that he didn’t want to assume anything.
As if I might not have wanted to do it with him. I would have done ANYTHING to have been able to do that show with Patrice. Unfortunately it was not to be.
Bill Burr and Maureen Taran produce a benefit for Patrice every year for the last 7 years. It’s usually held at Town Hall in NYC, which holds 3,000 people, and sells out well before the date.
I always knew The Black Phillip Show had a great influence on a lot of guys by the calls that came in while we were on the air, but it’s been pointed out to me lately by the amount of messages I receive on Instagram, and by random encounters in the street.
Recently I was down at The Village Underground which is part of The Comedy Cellar hanging out with Ardie Fuqua who was hosting a great show that night, and as I left and was walking to my car I heard someone yell out, ” Holy shit, it’s Jeffrey Gurian.” Not accustomed to getting called out like that I turned and saw two brothers, … and not brothers because they were Black, (which they were) but because they were true biological brothers.
We stopped to chat and they told me what big fans they were of Black Phillip and how much the show changed their lives. They were so sincere and so excited that I stayed there talking with them for quite a while and told them how it was working with Patrice and then I walked them back to the Fat Black Pussycat bar to meet Ardie.
This past weekend I went to a wedding in Boston. Late at night I went into the basement of the hotel I was staying in to grab a snack from a vending machine, and two guys were sitting at a table looking like they were doing some writing work. Next thing I know one yelled out, ” We love your interviews!” and when I went over to chat, once again it was two “brothers” but this time not biological, … and they admitted to being big fans of The Black Phillip Show but said they were reluctant to yell that out.
We talked for quite a while and again I shared stories of the fun we had up at the studio and how when I brought models up to the show, which I did each time, I would warn them that Patrice would try and “deconstruct” them to take away their power. They were always cool enough to go with the flow!
And the show didn’t only have Black fans. White guys stop me too lately. Skankfest, the outrageously crazy comedy festival out in Brooklyn draws fans from all over the world. Last year at Skankfest two guys from Ireland stopped me about Black Phillip and I didn’t think to take photos of them, which I try and do now each time it happens.
This year at Skankfest two Indian looking guys from Scotland stopped me who were Black Phillip fans, then a guy from England and then three guys from Canada came up to me talking about how much Black Phillip changed their lives as well. Only two are in the photo below because the third one volunteered to take the pic!
At this years’ Patrice benefit produced by Bill Burr and hosted by Rich Vos, I heard someone calling my name at the after-party. It turned out to be Patrice’s Mom Georgia, who called me over to take a pic with her and her daughter Zinder. It’s always so wonderful to see her. The first time we met was backstage at the taping of “Elephant In The Room” when Patrice called me over to introduce me.
These are just some of the messages I’ve received lately on Instagram for my work with Patrice on The Black Phillip Show.
It’s just nice to know that Patrice’s memory and his words and his commentary live on to inspire people and that in some small way I was part of that history.