Paul Mooney: provocative, controversial. There, we’ve met the editorial requirement to pair the African-American comedian’s name and the two words most used to describe his brand of humor. Interestingly enough, Mooney, who co-wrote with Richard Pryor and worked with Redd Foxx early on, has often said he’s not trying to be provocative or controversial. He’s just trying to get audiences to laugh — and think.
Most of his routine involves him speaking directly to the white people in his audience, discussing the inane ways in which he experiences racism, such as racial profiling. “I can be riding in a car with my white friends, somebody else is driving,” he says. “The cops will pull us over and ask me for my license. I’m not even driving the motherfucking car!”
In a Nightline interview, reporter Michel Martin asked him, “Are you trying to make white people uncomfortable?” “No, my parents are white,” he deadpanned. Mooney also rejected the idea that anger is the source of his comedy. “I don’t know why people say that. I’m not angry. If I was angry, I’d be on top of a building shooting people. That’s angry.” Martin pressed on: Was he tired or hurt? No, and no. There was only one label he claimed: “I’m funny.”
Obama’s election has given Mooney lots of material. “White folks, I have some bad news. The nightmare has come true. There will never, never, never be a white president again. Ever,” Mooney says. “Once you vote black, you don’t go back.” He goes on to add, “I love watching television now, ’cause Obama’s on it all day. It’s like watching BET on every channel.”
While Mooney knows his humor won’t suit everyone’s taste, he’s not offended by those who are offended by him. He does have one request, though. “If you don’t like what I say, just defend my right to say it.”
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Houston Improv, 7620 Katy Freeway. For information, call 713‑333-8800 or visit www.improvhouston.com. $20 to $22.
March 1-4, 2012