Family members, friends and fans remembered Paul Mooney with heartfelt tributes and R-rated jokes Thursday at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles.
The crowd gathered for a special tribute to the late comedian, writer and actor who died of a heart attack on May 19.
“Paul Mooney for me was my father. He was my mentor, he was my date, he was my everything,” actress and comedian Luenell shared from the stage, while serving as the evening’s host.
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Known in comedy circles as the “Mooney Twins,” the comic’s sons — Daryl and Dwayne Mooney — also took the stage. The two told the audience their father could be gruff and always spoke his mind.
“He was loved. He was hated. See now they love him. Oh, they love you when you’re gone, because they don’t have to see him tomorrow,” the Mooney Twins said to laughter.
[The Mooney Twins are shown in the image above]
Several other members of the late comedian’s family attended the invitation-only event and were acknowledged by the crowd. The club played recorded tributes from comedy insiders, including Tiffany Haddish and George Wallace.
Comedian Shang Forbes grabbed the microphone and had the audience in stitches when he recalled the first time he met Mooney.
“I’m one of those people, I’m aggressive,” Forbes explained. “I went up to him and said, ‘You’re amazing and one day I’m going to open for you.’ He was like, ‘sure you are yellow ni–er. sure you are.'”
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Mooney was one of the first comedians to perform at the Laugh Factory when the famed comedy club opened in 1979.
“Paul appeared thousands of times on the Laugh Factory stage,” said club owner Jamie Masada.
Over the years, Mooney wrote for Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle and Eddie Murphy, as well as for iconic television shows including Sanford and Son, In Living Color and Good Times. His acting credits included memorable appearances as “Negrodamus” on Chappelle’s Show. He played Junebug in the 2000 Spike Lee film Bamboozled and co-starred as Sam Cooke in 1978’s The Buddy Holly Story.
On stage, Mooney used comedy to raise awareness about racism.
“100 years from now, when they dig up his tapes and his books and his recordings, it will be the truth about what racism was about in this town. He was a historian. He was a truth-teller. He was a liberation fighter on the comedy stage. He freed Ni–ers!” the Mooney Twins told the Laugh Factory audience.
Outside the club, fans and admirers shared stories about what set Paul Mooney apart.
“He didn’t worry about losing sponsors or losing the corporate entities backing him. He was very honest with his comedy and he said a lot of things that people were afraid to say,” said entertainer Deno Brown.
“He was a larger than life creature. That dude, he was a bad mamba jamba,” added longtime fan Curtis Jackson.