Comedian Patrice O’Neal has died at the age of 41, after suffering a stroke in late October that left his chance for recovery uncertain. His death was confirmed by Gregg “Opie” Hughes of the Opie And Anthony Show, where O’Neal was a frequent guest and co-host, who answered the numerous online rumors that had quickly spread among O’Neal’s fellow comedians by saying, “Yes it's true that our pal Patrice O'Neal has passed away. The funniest and best thinker i've ever known PERIOD.”
Active in the stand-up comedy scene since the early ’90s, O’Neal had an honest, confrontational style that made him a favorite guest of panel shows like Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn. His other television work was an eclectic mix: In addition to a brief stint as a writer for the WWE, he took an assemblage of small background roles in comedies like Apt. 2F, Ed, and Yes Dear—roles he didn’t always speak fondly of—as well as more substantial and memorable parts in series such as Chappelle’s Show (as Hater’s Ball honoree Pit Bull), Arrested Development (as the ex-con turned banana stand employee T-Bone) and The Office (where he played warehouse worker Lonny, known affectionately as “The Sea Monster”). O’Neal’s instantly recognizable voice also made him a favorite for animation work, including stints on the cartoons Assy McGee, O’Grady, and most notably, a starring role opposite Nick DiPaolo on Comedy Central’s Shorties Watchin’ Shorties.
Aside from stand-up, including his recently released Comedy Central special and subsequent album, Elephant In The Room, O’Neal was perhaps best known for his hosting duties, both on Opie And Anthony and for the VH1 show Web Junk 20, a plum job that O’Neal quit after deciding—and stating publicly—that he didn’t have any business playing to that audience. It was that sort of bluntness and fearlessness that defined O’Neal’s humor, and it was on full display at O’Neal’s most recent public appearance at the Comedy Central Roast Of Charlie Sheen, where O’Neal’s long struggle with diabetes made him one of the panel’s most frequent targets for ridicule. To his credit, O’Neal—who had long joked about his disease himself—dished it right back out, just like always.
Roast of Charlie Sheen