Comedian Patrice O’Neal never received his due while he was still with us, and Comedy Central is looking to (at least somewhat) correct course by celebrating his life and legacy with a new documentary.
According to a press release provided to The Root, the film will utilize “a vast archive” of never-before-seen footage to “recount O’Neal’s life story and explore the hilarious and controversial material he left behind.” It will also prominently feature the Boston-bred comedian’s family and friends, as well as other comics who either befriended him or were influenced by his unparalleled comedic genius.
“Patrice was a tour de force in comedy who left an indelible stamp on the stand-up community and beyond,” Sarah Babineau and Jonas Larsen, Co-Heads of Original Content at Comedy Central, said in a statement. “Comedy Central had the incredible opportunity to work with him throughout his career from Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, to the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen and to his last stand-up special Elephant in the Room. Patrice was a fearless and fierce comedian and we’re honored to be able to shine a light on his life and career with this documentary.”
This project will be a collaborative effort between Comedy Central and digital media studio All Things Comedy, and will be directed by Michael Bonfiglio (Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh) and executive produced by Bill Burr, Al Madrigal, Michael Bertolina, and O’Neal’s fiancée Von Decarlo. Christian McLaughlin, Anne Harris and Gabriella Yacyk will oversee production on behalf of Comedy Central.
“I am very excited and proud to have gotten this project in the hands of Comedy Central, and now with Bill Burr and All Things Comedy aboard, as well as, our director Michael Bonfiglio,” Decarlo said in a statement. “This makes for an absolute dream team to help his mother and I bring Patrice’s story to the masses, and solidify his legacy for generations to come.”
Born in New York City, O’Neal propelled through the local Boston comedy scene before eventually making his mark on the national stage. He was a familiar face on Showtime at the Apollo and Def Comedy Jam before locking in half-hour comedy specials with Comedy Central, Showtime, and HBO. You might also remember him from guest appearances in films like Head of State and 25th Hour, or settling the stage aflame during the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen. However, after a lengthy battle with diabetes—a frequent source of humor in his stand-up routines—O’Neal died in 2011 at the age of 41.
“So happy that Mike Bonfiglio and Comedy Central are going to make this happen,” Burr said in a statement. “Patrice was the best that I ever saw.“