It’s not very often you get an opportunity to talk to a legend of an industry. Most of the time they come from an earlier era and they are long gone before you arrive, leaving behind the only options to read about them or hear second-hand stories told by someone that may have known them.
The Austin Times was really fortunate to have the chance to interview Paul Mooney, now in his late 60’s, one of the living legends of comedy.
Even if you don’t recognize his name, you have probably laughed at one of his jokes and didn’t know it. He wrote for the groundbreaking 1970’s television series Good Times and Sanford and Son. He also wrote for Fox’s In Living Color, as well as some of Richard Pryor’s material.
Paul Mooney will be performing at the Cap City Comedy Club April 21-24, an event you don’t want to miss. However, Mooney may not be for everyone. You have to be willing to go on a mental journey and challenge certain beliefs. In his own words, he is “real and unapologetic”.
Therefore, we won’t apologize; we know exactly who he is and that’s why we wanted to talk with him.
The Austin Times: You have been around for a long time. Based on your evolution, what’s funny to Paul Mooney?
Paul Mooney: Politics and the establishment. The political arena is the funniest. They’re always pretending to change, but they never change. They’re the best actors and actresses in the world. They’ve always beenhilarious since the beginning of time, from President Lincoln until now.An actor killed Lincoln.
You would think they wouldn’t let an actor near the White House, and then they elected an actor as president. That’s crazy to me! Do you think if an Indian had killed a president, they would have let an Indian near the White House? The White House is always full of drug addicts or alcoholics. We can start with Betty Ford and go down the list. It’s like a crack house.
TAT: Comedy is about emotion. Your comedy seems to touch a nerve in people, and not always a good one. You have been known to make people uncomfortable, not just White people, but Blacks as well. Why do you think they respond that way?
PM: They’re American. It’s our society. It’s how people are programmed. We’re brainwashed. Their minds are taught a trained response. And when color comes into play, it really becomes crazy. Racism is a form of insanity. Human beings became racist when they started talking. Speech has a lot to do with it.
TAT: When you hit a nerve in people and they respond how does that make you feel?
PM: I don’t feel any way. I just do what I do. It doesn’t affect me in any way. I find it humorous that people could be offended so easily. There is so much they should be concerned about than what I have to say.
Our country’s at war, half the world is H.I.V. positive, and, yet, they’re worried about me and what I have to say. That’s funny to me.
They should worry about the Japanese. I’ve always said they are never going to forgive us for dropping that bomb on them. They’re already starting to get back at us with Toyota. All the Toyotas in Japan are fine and all the bad ones are here in the U.S.
TAT: You are living legend of comedy. You have an immense body of work. I am so glad that the Chappelle Show stopped because I didn’t want Paul Mooney to become a catch phrase like Rick James. Your work is to be studied and revered. That being said, who would you pay $100 to watch perform comedy?
PM: Who would I pay to go see? Nobody. That’s just real. I’ve worked with all the great minds from Richard Pryor, Flip Wilson, Redd Foxx to Moms Mabley. The only people left are Bill Cosby and Dick Gregory. After they go, it’s all over with. I’m the last of my kind.
At this point in the interview, Mooney is interrupted by a white fan and who says his name is Mooney also. Paul Mooney responds with laughter and says your family probably owned my ancestors. Everyone laughs and he has touched someone else. Another great Paul Mooney moment.
TAT: We have a question that was submitted from Facebook from one of our readers, Lauren Cervantes. When will they take the word “Negro” off the census? As if there is a small group of black people in the United States that still only identify with the word negro.
PM: Those are names that you call your dog or something you own. The Census is stupid! The reason to have the Census is to know where the minorities are. That’s why they ask are there any Indians in your house. I wrote down, I thought you killed them all. I write in the blank space is the reality of what I am, a stolen African.
TAT: Are you where you want to be at this point in your life? Are you comfortable being Paul Mooney?
PM: Absolutely. I’m where I’m supposed to be.
If you want to see learn more about Paul Mooney, his new book is called, Black is the New White and he has a new Showtime DVD comedy It’s the End of the World.By Tony Dean, Austin Times Staff