(Comedy Central/VOD) I revel in hearing comedians discussing their process, when they bomb, when they kill, what it took to get from the former to the latter, and Michael Bonfiglio’s examination of Patrice O’Neal, who passed in 2011, is an exceptional example of a documentary about a comedian that provides insight while pulling no punches.
The doc handles his backstory more in-depth than most comedian documentaries by having a fair amount of access to his childhood family, friends, even the headmaster of his high school. While his family and friends keep the majority of their remarks polite and affable, the comedians chosen for the doc, certainly do not. The comedians that appear are all ones that you’d recognize if you been paying attention to stand-up in the 90s (Colin Quinn, Denis Leary, Bill Burr, Jim Norton — a lot of TOUGH CROWD folks) and while they all respected his comedic skill, they make it very clear that O’Neal was an absolute asshole, and would double-down on bad engagement and bad opinions. Of course, they also hand wave a lot of that away as “truth telling”, but that’s a subject for another time.
It’s a surprisingly frank portrayal, especially given that comedian Von Decarlo, his fiancée, was the executive producer of the documentary. It’s also a welcome one, if the subject matter interests you and you can overlook the macho approach of much of the comedy.