When the lay person is asked to name legends in comedy, a deserved yet redundant list is oft volunteered. Seldom mentioned is the man who is responsible not only for the success of many on this list but a host of others. He is Mr. Paul Mooney.

With a career spanning over thirty years, Paul Mooney’s prestige within the comedy world had been cemented by the fact that he wrote material for the undisputed King of Comedy himself, Richard Pryor. However, more importantly, by conceptualizing stories and writing for programs such as Sanford and Son, The Jefferson’s and Good Times he made it possible for black comedians to star and  express themselves honestly through the medium of television.  Mooney not only co-penned Richard Pryor’s autobiographical Jo-Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling” but also several of Pryor’s comedy albums.

 He even wrote episodes for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

Known for socio-political humor (usually founded upon race issues), Mooney always set himself apart by expressing his mind without being intimidated by the powers that be or racial climate of the times. Said of Mitzi Shore’s Comedy Store which boasts of alumni ranging from Eddie Murphy to David Letterman): “they all studied me and watched me, I freed all of them, trust me – I freed them all.” 

In 1990, he began writing for sketch show “In Living Color” which starred The Wayans family, David A. Grier, Jamie Foxx and Tommy Davidson. Mooney created and developed one of the 90’s most recognizable characters, Homey the Clown. Mooney says he modeled Homey after himself. The resemblance of course was more related to his no nonsense stance on his environment then it was to the clown make up.  Above notwithstanding, no stranger to clowns, he was the FIRST  Black Ringmaster. This fact is so amazing that its veracity is oft questioned. He responds simply; “That’s true, it was with the Gatti Charles Circus!” It perhaps was here that Mooney cultivated his talent to move large crowds.  When asked what year he started comedy, the answer is an esoteric: “I was born a comedian.”.

While most writers credit his first paying job as a writer for The Richard Pryor TV Show, overlooked are Mooney’s humble beginnings with San Francisco folk group “Joe and Eddy”. As fate would have it a younger Paul Mooney broke barriers by taking the place of a white comedian named Ronnie Shell who couldn’t work that night.

 Since the 70’s comedian’s have come and gone and after the smoke clears, Paul Mooney has always been the Last Man Standing. He doesn’t not shy away from speaking on his influence on today’s comics:  All of them, I’m their tree, black and white.”  Of course it’s no surprise that he sees himself in the Mooney Twins, his sons Darryl and Dwayne who are motivational speakers and comedians in their own right, who state simply “our father is a genius.” but reminding us that true talent surpasses all barriers, even comedienne/Actress Sandra Bernhard credits Paul Mooney with both being one of the two funniest people alive and as being her mentor; saying that he “took me under (his) wing and raised me in this business.”. Says Jimmie “JJ” Walker he’s the greatest…the best…not a sell out … he’s..the truth.”.


With such a reputation, it was only natural for him to be invited to join the writing/acting cast of the acclaimed Dave Chappelle Show of which he has been a part since 2003.

When asked how comedy changed in the last 30 years, he says “it hasn’t. Cooning still in exists, it’s all bamboozled.”. The persistence of “cooning” in Black entertainment was the theme of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled wherein Paul Mooney played the comic “Junebug”. In 2001, he spawned “Call Me Claus”, a TNT movie starring Whoopi Goldberg- produced by Garth Brooks. What sets him apart, bluntly put, “None of them do what I do, they take hostages, I don’t take hostages.”. At press time Paul Mooney is finally the star of his own television show, Comedy Central’s Judge Mooney and also packs Caroline’s Comedy Club (NY) every month. Here, the Godfather of Comedy still shows them how to do it, promising “I’m not gonna whiten up, I’m gonna tighten up.”


by: Bunchy

special thanks to Jimmie Walker for the assistance… 



editor’s note:

Our first chat was more like a spat that took place in 2001 which ended with me asking him who the fuck he thought he was talking too before i stormed out…

Glad he didn’t remember..or did he???

Watch him here speaking on Hip Hop and of course the infamous FUCK OPRAH