I always thought Mooney was funny to me and he is real funny on the Chappelle's show.
Originally posted by kara:
The Full Mooney
By Jenny Mayo
Funnyman Paul Mooney plays the DC Improv this month. Listen to what he's got to say about "Chappelle's Show," Homey the Clown and race in America.
PAUL MOONEY APPEARING AT THE DC IMPROV JULY 6-11
Comedian Paul Mooney's history in comedy is like a who's who of black comedians. He was Richard Pryor's right-hand-man, and even stood in for him when Pryor was too sick to play a role in a Faye Dunaway movie. He wrote for "Good Times" and "Sanford & Son" at a time when few black sitcoms were on the air. Eddie Murphy, "Saturday Night Live", Whoopi Goldberg and "In Living Color"—Mooney invented the "Homey the Clown" character—have all benefited from the Mooney machine. His movie credits include Spike Lee's "Bamboozled" and Robert Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle", and the actor played Sam Cooke in the movie "The Buddy Holly Story." Mooney has released two albums of his own material as well.
Most recently, the comic's popularity has exploded, largely because of his appearances on Comedy Central blockbuster "Chappelle's Show. " His character, Negrodamus, makes predictions—and that's about the only thing he's got in common with his French counterpart. "White folks like Wayne Brady," posits Negrodamus, "because he makes Bryant Gumble look like Malcolm X."
Like the characters he portrays, Mooney himself is uncensored and at times acrid. "You can ask whatever you want to," he says at the start of the interview, "but just be prepared for the answer."
YOU'VE DONE SOME REALLY TREMENDOUS THINGS IN YOUR CAREER—FROM WRITING TO MOVIES TO STANDUP. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE EXPERIENCE SO FAR?
My favorite experience is working with Faye Dunaway. She did an independent film… Richard Pryor [was] to be a black minister and Richard couldn't do it, he was too sick... So I went on the set and my greatest acting job was to pretend like I wasn't excited about that. That was true acting.
A LOT OF PEOPLE PROBABLY WOULDN'T KNOW THAT IN ADDITION TO THE COMEDIC ACTING YOU HAVE UNDER YOUR BELT, YOU ALSO HAVE MORE TRADITIONAL ACTING EXPERIENCE AS WELL.
Oh yeah. In the "Buddy Holly Story" I played Sam Cooke… I wear a lot of hats. I've been blessed with talent.
WERE YOU A FUNNY KID IN SCHOOL?
I think true comedians, the true ones, the brilliant ones, I think they're boring... It's like the difference of a topless dancer and a stripper. A stripper is a seasoned professional who has an act, who's been at it and does it for different reasons. I think topless people do it just for the money.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER THAT YOU'VE CREATED?
Homey the Clown.
HOW DID YOU THINK OF THAT?
Well, actually Homey the Clown is me. It's actually me.
DO YOU WHOOP PEOPLE ON THE HEAD WITH A SOCK?
[Laughing] No. Damon came up with that, but I used to call everybody ‘homey.' That's where it came from.
TELL ME WHAT IT'S BEEN LIKE WORKING ON "CHAPPELLE'S SHOW. "
[Laughs] When I hooked up on that show, they came to me and they said they wanted me to do some things and I told them the only way I'll do it, I had to be in total control of sketches creatively, because I know what comedy is. Trust my own instincts.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CHARACTERS ON THAT SHOW? (ASK A BLACK DUDE, NEGRODAMUS)
[Laughs again] Well, Niggerdamus—we call Negrodamus—it came out of a bit of mine that I used to do. Because Nostradamus used to crack me up. I mean white people are so into Nostradamus it'd make you laugh. So I just created that character. Sort of the other side… And "Ask a Black Man" came from Dave. But all the answers came from Paul Mooney.
DOES WAYNE BRADY GET A BAD RAP?
Well that Wayne Brady piece came from me also, ‘cause I used to talk about him in my act. And as Negrodamus I talked about him, and that's why he did the show. It was brilliant—he did the show, and that means he has a sense of humor because we talk about him like a dog. And I'm a big Wayne Brady fan now. I wasn't before—he got me.
HE WON YOU OVER?
Yeah. If he ever performed somewhere I'd be in the front row. I'm a big Wayne Brady fan because he did the show. He was very offended by it—he saw Dave at something and he said, ‘I love you and Paul Mooney, how could you?' And Dave said, ‘Well, if you feel that come and do the show! Come and give us some.' And he did. And that I respect… I think when he did that sketch he got a whole bunch of people he'd never had before.
YOU'VE BEEN CALLED A "RACE MAN" WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR MATERIAL. DO YOU ACCEPT THIS CATEGORIZATION?
Well, of course I am. I'm an American. Every American is, and if they say they're not, they're lying.
I READ THAT YOU DID SOME SORT OF DECODING OF THE LETTERS OF "AMERICA."
It's like when the CIA and FBI when they scramble things, when they decode something—America decodes to "I Am Race." That's what America's about. America's whole thing, it's founded upon race and racism…anybody that says that it isn't is full of shit. They're like a bunch of vampires who have discovered a blood bank.
WHY DO YOU THINK RACIAL HUMOR HAS BECOME SO POPULAR—SHOWS LIKE IN LIVING COLOR, CHAPPELLE'S SHOW, MARTIN, AND SO FORTH?
Well you have to remember it never goes anywhere. Racism in America always raises its ugly head in some parts of the country. It's real weird in this country, and people are in such denial about it and in such pretense about it that they won't deal with it. So it's always gonna be there. That's why "Chappelle's Show"'s a hit. That's why the young kids—I have 12-year-old white kids coming up to me. I never had that before, before the "Chappelle's Show".
DO YOU THINK IT'S A DIFFERENT GENERATION GROWING UP NOW?
I just think it's in the blood, it's not got anything to do with generation. They're just rediscovering it, and it's a different thing. Time brings about changes. When I was coming up and what we call from the South ‘crossing the color line,' it's a different syndrome than it is now. Now if a young white girl and a young black boy are together and vice-versa, and you say something or I say something then we're just old school and old hat and tired. You understand? That it's old and boring to them. Because it's what they do automatically. It comes with integration, things change.
You know when I was coming up, white people really couldn't dance. That's why Ann-Margret became such a big star. She's the only white girl that could keep a beat! If Ann-Margret was 18 and came on today, she wouldn't be famous. Because there's thousands of Ann-Margrets.
You have to remember that white people started racial humor first. Amos and Andy were white… It was economics ‘cause they didn't want black people to work at those kind of jobs. And white people used to put on black face and pretend they were black. You have to remember white people started this racial stuff. And so payback is a bitch.
DO YOU THINK WHITE PEOPLE HAVE GOTTEN TO THE POINT NOW WHERE THEY CAN AT LEAST LAUGH AT THEMSELVES (EVIDENCED BY THE MASSES OF "CHAPPELLE'S SHOW" DEVOTEES)?
I think a lot of ‘em can now… You gotta remember what kind of a monster Hollywood is…a racial monster. They put the images out there to what you should think blacks are, what you should laugh at, what you shouldn't laugh at. Like in the ‘50s and the ‘40s in the movies…[for example] if black and white got together their punishment was death… These were all Hollywood rules… and they're not American rules, and this is not reality. You can't do a show [on] streets of San Francisco and not show Chinese people. You can't show Pearl Harbor and not show native Hawaiians. That's insanity—that's Hollywood.
DO YOU THINK THAT THE FACT THAT PEOPLE CAN START LAUGHING ABOUT IT MEANS THAT PERHAPS THEY CAN START TALKING ABOUT IT?
[Yes.] It's because the healing process has set in. Laughter is powerful. It can cure cancer. It's powerful, it's been documented. I know that the form of comedy that I do and what I do, I know it's God's work and what comes out of my mind and from my head comes from upstairs… It's so outrageous… so on the head, so on the money. So I know that this is something that has to be done. There had to be a Paul Mooney. This is God's work. There had to be a me. I didn't come from Mars. I'm as American as apple pie. Some people think bean pie, but they're wrong. I'm as American as apple pie. I grew up with John Wayne, Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, I grew up with that. "Leave it to Beaver," "Donna Reed"—I'm as American as they come, okay? … That melting pot, that pot that's got all that crap in it, I come out of it…
I READ SOMEWHERE YOU SAID IF YOU PASSED TOMORROW YOU WOULD STILL BE SATISFIED THAT YOU HAD DONE WHAT YOU'D MEANT TO DO. DO YOU STILL AGREE WITH THAT?
Yeah, of course. Which is a good feeling. And it's a good place to be… There was supposed to be me, there was supposed to be a negative to it or people not really getting it or people trying to figure it out, you know?
YOU'RE DUE TO PERFORM AT THE IMPROV SHORTLY. DO YOU LIKE DC?
I love Washington because of the political atmosphere. Yeah, because of that. Because of the White House, I love it.
OCCASIONALLY SOME PEOPLE PROBABLY SNEAK INTO YOUR AUDIENCE WHO AREN'T REALLY PREPARED FOR WHAT THEY'RE GETTING INTO, WOULD YOU EVER PUT A DISCLAIMER ON YOUR SHOW?
No. NO, what you see is what you get. My reputation precedes me… I've been in the game too long… People know what I do.
You know who's usually offended by me? People who…they may be married to somebody black or white or their best friend's black or white or they're under some illusion of inclusion. They're not very open. Southerners are not usually offended by me, because they live in a world that's real. Liberals and people who live in this fake world are usually offended. And who are under some pretense. It's real sad. And then they're not that bright. Intellectuals, people who write, people who read, people who are knowledgeable—they're attracted to me.
WHAT PROJECTS BESIDES YOUR UPCOMING DC TRIP CAN WE BE EXPECTING TO SEE YOU WORKING ON IN THE FUTURE?
Well I have my own show on Comedy Central, "Just Mooney." That's coming out… And I'm gonna do a movie, The Return of Blackula. They want me to play Blackula… an independent film. Those are the two things that are coming up.
Catch the hilarious and always-uncensored Paul Mooney between July 6-11, when the comic procures the stage of the DC Improv. Log onto www.dcimprov.com or call 202-296-7008 for info and reservations. The comic also performs monthly at Caroline's on Broadway in New York City. Upcoming dates are: July 22-25. For info log onto www.carolines.com or call 212-757-4100.
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