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Comedians Remember Patrice O'Neal

Getty / Sylvain Gaboury

Comedians Remember Patrice O'Neal

Comedian Patrice O'Neal, who died Nov. 29, 2011, at 41 of complications of a stroke, was often described as loud and fearless. A hulking, 6-foot-4 man weighing at least 300 pounds, O'Neal was a large presence onstage and off, intimidating audiences of strangers as well as those closest to him with his cutting remarks.

Some entertainers loved his brashness, the way he would switch gears during a routine and go off script to rip someone apart. Others kept their distance, as New York magazine noted in a 2012 piece titled, "The Comedian Comedians Were Afraid Of."

But most do agree that O'Neal, love him or fear him, was a unique talent. Legacy.com remembers the funny man, known best for his stand-up performances, with quotes about him from his fellow comedians:

1. "You couldn't shut Patrice up any more than you could shut off a river. Patrice is the only guy I can imagine trying to meet God as an equal. If I could somehow be looking at him in heaven right now, and watched him meet God, I know I'd be thinking the same thing everybody else would be thinking: 'Uh-oh, God shouldn't have said that. Now he's going to get hammered by Patrice.'" – Colin Quinn, in a speech made during O'Neal's funeral.

2. "He ended a couple of my relationships early. … You'd see him get that look in his eye and you didn't know what, what mood Patrice was going to be in. He could be the most lovely, like, little angel or … he would just slowly turn, it was like slow mo, and I saw him sizing up the dude I was with, and I'm … like 'Nooooo!' – running over. It was too late. … He just trashed this guy's life. …" – Amy Schumer in a Nov. 30, 2011, radio interview.

3. "This is unbelievable. … We're never going to hear that big laugh again. That's the first thing I thought of. … If you made Patrice laugh, you felt it kind of resets your funny. … He was no B.S. … The best advice he ever gave me (was): 'Be the truth. Always. And everything will roll off. … Your negative truth, your bad truth.'" – Dane Cook, who started his comedy career in Boston with O'Neal, in a 2011 radio interview.

4. "It is a rough one because, first of all, people don't realize how full of life this guy was. … Just absolutely filled up a room when he walked in a room, and he was so funny and he was just … figuring out what he did. … That thing he did offstage was coming onstage. … We were all getting ready to work for Patrice O'Neal. …" – Chris Rock, reacting to news of O'Neal's death in a 2011 radio interview.

5. Film and TV actor Kevin Hart described going to a Los Angeles comedy club with O'Neal in a radio interview recorded before O'Neal's death. "L.A. comics are nothing like us here in New York. … Those guys (are) the most sensitive group," Hart said. During his act, O'Neal began verbally attacking audience members." He's like a man with a rifle, picking people off," Hart recalled. O'Neal singled out a man in the club who had a notebook, asking him, "What is your notepad for? What are you writing down? … Did you take notes on what you just did? Let me see it." … When the notebook guy complied, O'Neal looked at it and then threw the notebook away, Hart remembered. "Nobody matches Patrice's funny anger," he said. Nobody."

Natalie Pompilio is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. Her lifelong love of obituaries raised eyebrows when she was younger, but she's now able to explain that this interest goes beyond morbid curiosity. Says Pompilio, "Obituaries are mini life stories, allowing a glimpse into someone's world that we're often denied. I just wish we could share them with each other when we're alive."