So, it’s Black History Month (and Chocolate Lover’s Month at Dunkin’ Donuts– but that’s neither here nor there… right?), and I’ve decided it’s a good time to share this lil’ jewel here. Around the early-’90s, when “black comedy” had kinda blown up through shows like Def Comedy Jam, In Living Color, and ComicView, a number of standups were getting TV shows and books and all type of shit. One who’d been around for way longer had also gained some recognition- enough to get a deal with StepSun Records and drop his own standup comedy album.
Paul Mooney, who’d written material for Richard Pryor, Sanford & Son, and Good Times, and created In Living Color‘s “Homey the Clown” character, was also a great standup in his own right. A lot of his comedy revolved around race relations, and so, his 1993 debut comedy album was aptly titled Race. I’d read about it in The Source, but later that year, I actually heard it and laughed my ass off the whole way through. I was only 13, and some of the material was a little over my head, but it also interested me in finding out about some of the things he was discussing.
A friend of mine’s father had it and was playing it for his friends one day as I was at their house. They were rollin’ off that shit like they were at the comedy club themselves, and I was always up for a laugh, so I dubbed myself a copy on tape (wow) and took it home with me. From that point, I put everybody on to Race, from my mother and her friends to one of my teachers at school. I didn’t expect it, but it remains to this day the only comedy album that I listened to just as much as I did music.
Nobody was immune to Mooney’s wrath- White people, Black people, Arabs, Asians, Paula Abdul, Woody Allen, Cheers, MC Hammer, whoever! In fact, within the first 15 minutes, a woman catches feelings and leaves the show, but not before Paul tell her, “I hope when you get home, niggas are burglarizing your house- good night, ma’am!” His content has much to do with why he never broke through mainstream-wise, but in listening to Race and knowing Mooney’s style of comedy, I don’t think he’d have it any other way. At his most unfiltered and unedited, he goes in on everything past and present (for the time) that he wanted to. The result was a classic hour of comedy that I still listen to at least twice a year, and still laugh at. Paul can tell you better than I can, though… so here it is: