Published Sep 30, 2016Although he's probably best known to younger audiences for his appearances on Chappelle's Show, Paul Mooney started off as one of the architects of the '70s black comedy scene, as the Louisiana-bred comedian worked on Good Times, Sanford & Son and Saturday Night Live before finding his true voice co-writing much of Richard Pryor's ground-breaking material.
Recorded at the 2,700-seat Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in 2014, A Piece of My Mind finds the 75-year old comedian in the midst of a prolific stretch after two decades of lingering towards obscurity. Opening with a poorly edited and assembled documentary-like montage that shows radio and TV interviewers fawning over his credits, Mooney's seventh standup special begins with the 75-year-old looking sharp and youthful in a jacketless two-piece suit while seated amongst a lavishly designed living room stage setup.
Beginning his 80-minute set exactly the way you'd expect him to, by discussing race, Mooney doesn't hold back, cunningly and hilariously pointing out certain things that white women are complimented for that black people aren't (i.e. big lips, tanned skin, cornrows).
Although Mooney is refreshingly raw, insightful and pleasantly subversive throughout his performance, including bits on how the children's rhyme "Ten Little Indians" seems a bit too hopeful these days, and how people from the Islands think they're better than African Americans because they were dropped off first, a portion of his material seems a bit too trite, as if he's coming up with subjects that he wants to talk about (Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin) and stretching to find punch lines ("how he's actually a pimp" and how "she should strip").
After the first half of the performance, Mooney unfortunately shifts his focus from social issues to his beefs with celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan, Madonna and a rather tasteless joke where he victim-shames Nicole Brown Simpson for being a "drug-addict ho." On A Piece of My Mind, Mooney shows that he's a true original when he's working hard to deliver his biting social commentary, and just like any other comedian when he's leaning back to skewer decade-cold celebrities.
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.