The first time I saw Paul Mooney was on Chappelle’s Show‘s “Ask a Black Guy” segment. I was a freshman in college when the show premiered, and for the mostly white, mostly wealthy kids I lived with, it seemed like watching Chappelle’s Show was as edgy as it got. It was probably the first time a lot of us looked into the mirror at our privilege; now there was a mean old black guy looking back at us, telling us how shitty and unworthy of his time we were.
Obviously, I was a dumb millennial. Paul Mooney has never given any fucks about me or my feelings. And now that he’s 71 years old, he really doesn’t give a fuck. It’s a proud comedy tradition to think of the most offensive comment and say it out loud, and Mooney is a master pre-Internet troll—especially when it comes to race, and especially when it comes to whiteness. The last time his name popped up in the headlines was when he got booted from a West Nyack comedy club just days after the Boston Marathon bombing for allegedly saying that “white people in Boston deserved what they got.”
OK—that’s pretty bad. But you’ve got to be willing to take some punches if you want to get the best of Mooney, who’s always caught up on current events. The show he’s now performing, A Black Man in the White House, continues to celebrate Barack Obama, who Mooney has said “can do no wrong.” Knowing his intolerance for hypocrisy, though, I can’t wait to see what kind of defense Mooney mounts.