Black Is the New White by Paul Mooney & Dave Chappelle

When I was a young black boy growing up in Washington, D.C., during my formative years, my comic inspiration came from various comedy idols, particularly Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy.

Richard meant so much to me. Richard Pryor was the real King of Comedy. Then I found out that Paul Mooney was the writer behind my idol!

We all remember that famous sketch from Saturday Night Live’s first season, where Pryor plays a prospective employee playing a “word association game” with the interviewer (played by Chevy Chase). The two get into a verbal fight when Chase’s character begins to use racial slurs.

Well, Paul Mooney wrote that sketch!

To see a black man on TV, holding his own with a white man, that was television history. It changed everything, not only TV, but also my course, and it gave me the direction my life was meant to go in.

The Eddie Murphy Raw tour in the 1980s was the hottest ticket in town. When the fans came in wanting to see Eddie Murphy, for the first half of the show, they got Paul Mooney. I thought, That nigga had a lot of balls to open up for a crowd that was only there to see Eddie Murphy.

Years later, I asked Eddie about it: “Why did you put Paul Mooney on to open for you?”

“When you have Paul Mooney in front of you,” Eddie said, “you have to be on the top of your game when you come out to perform. You can’t slack if Mooney is the opening act.”

I had the good fortune to work with Paul on Chappelle’s Show and I have some stories of my own. Paul Mooney is a genius, brilliant, a legend, and a force to be reckoned with.

But I will say this: you don’t fuck with Paul Mooney, you don’t fuck with his writing, his material, his sketches … and you certainly don’t tell him what to do! Trust me, I’ve learned, especially when I worked with him on my own show.

When I started gearing up for my show, I knew I needed Paul Mooney to be part of it. I just wanted his comedic genius. I wanted to be around someone who has so much history and success. Mooney was the writer, the casting director, and the director for some segments of The Richard Pryor Show in 1977 for NBC.

That was classic television, never to be duplicated. Working on The Richard Pryor Show, Paul Mooney helped launch the careers of so many talented comedians and actors: Robin Williams, Brad Garrett, Shirley Hemphill, Marsha Warfield, Johnny Witherspoon, Tim Reid, and Sandra Bernhard, to name a few.

There are a lot of things people remember about my show. Some things that I did, yeah, but a lot of people remember “Negrodamus” and “Ask a Black Dude.” It was classic Mooney.

Now, many of you reading this book may not have even heard of Paul Mooney, and that’s a shame. Why isn’t Mooney a mainstream star? As you read through the pages you will find out why … Paul Mooney was too black for Hollywood!

Say what you will about Paul Mooney, he always delivers the goods. What comes out of his mind is comic genius at its best.

Paul Mooney: the face that launched a thousand quips



I’m sliding into a booth in a coffee shop on Santa Monica Boulevard, slapping the table to wake Richard Pryor from his hangover nod.

“Man,” I say to him, “I just saw a lady so pretty, somebody should suck her daddy’s dick for a job well done.”

Richard stares at me. Early afternoon, too early for Richard. I smell the brandy he doses his coffee with. He is a little slowed-down by all the poisons in his blood, but even slowed-down Richard Pryor is quicker than any other human being on earth.

He laughs. I’m not saying Richard just laughs like an ordinary person laughs. I mean he laughs. His face lights up like a Times Square billboard and his whole body wags like a dog happy to see its owner.

You know you can die happy when you can make Richard Pryor laugh. It’s this huge blast of appreciation, hipness, and intelligence. He gets it. His laugh is like ripping open a bag of joy, letting loose a storm that blows you head over heels. It is that powerful.

The greatest comics—and Richard is bar none the great-est—always have the greatest laughs.

Later on, as the hard living takes its toll and the MS takes over, most of Richard’s laughs will turn into fits