In a 2007 interview on the Opie and Anthony show, Chris Rock ripped on his peer Patrice O'Neal for not fulfilling his enormous comic potential. Having developed a long history of sabotaging his own television and film opportunities, O'Neal found himself operating on the margins of mainstream comedy. Everyone in the room recognized O'Neal's immense talent but warned that in addition to talent, O'Neal needed a sense of professional self-preservation.
In some ways, it is too easy to make the connection between great comedy and the struggle with personal demons. O'Neal, however, who passed away November 29, seems to fit this archetype. Considered a comic's comic, O'Neal's work was profane, controversial and provocative, in the tradition of offensive truth tellers like Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin. His genius will be missed.