Dave Chappelle says he’ll make sure Paul Mooney is ‘wildly remembered’

Mooney appeared on Chappelle's TV show, blessing sketches like "Ask a Black Dude" and "Negrodamus."

Dave Chappelle, who reintroduced Paul Mooney to younger generations via his now-iconic Chappelle’s Show, has vowed to uphold the legacy of the legendary comedian, who died early Wednesday. 

Chappelle was caught on camera by TMZ outside of the Soho Grand Hotel in New York City later Wednesday, and he spoke of the man who found mainstream success as a writer for fellow comedy mainstay Richard Pryor.

Dave Chappelle (left) has vowed to uphold the legacy of legendary comedian-writer Paul Mooney (right), who died early Wednesday. (Photos by Sean Rayford/Getty Images and Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images for TV Land)

“I want to shout out every comedian on Earth, one of the best that ever did it, paved the way today, his legacy will live forever,” he said of Mooney. “He did everything from Richard Pryor Show to Chappelle’s Show, he’s one of the first Black people ever in the Writer’s Guild. Paul Mooney will be sorely missed and wildly remembered. I’ll see to that.” 

Mooney appeared on Chappelle’s popular 2000s Comedy Central show, where some of his acclaimed sketches were “Ask a Black Dude,” “Mooney at the Movies” and “Negrodamus,” a play on the French astrologer Nostradamus, in which the legendary writer-funnyman-actor answered questions from a uniquely Black perspective.

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As reported yesterday, Mooney passed away Wednesday morning of a heart attack at the age of 79 in his Oakland, California home. 

Veteran news journalist Roland Martin was one of the first to share the news on Twitter, where he also wrote that Mooney had been suffering from dementia. 

A tweet from Mooney’s official account confirmed his passing: “Thank you all from the bottom of all of our hearts …you’re all are the best!…… Mooney World… The Godfather of Comedy – ONE MOON MANY STARS! .. To all in love with this great man.. many thanks.”

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Tributes to Mooney immediately poured in from celebrities on social media all day yesterday. 

CNN host and comedian W. Kamau Bell wrote: “I was lucky enough to open for Paul Mooney several times. It was a master class. It was like a Malcolm X speech that had been punched up by Redd Foxx. & then in the middle of everything he’d go off on a tangent about Jane Fonda. He was 1 of the greats. Rest in Peace, Mr. Mooney.”

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“Paul Mooney. A comedy giant,” director Ava DuVernay tweeted. “I recall listening to his RACE album in college and how formative it was. Yeah, the jokes. But more so, the freedom. He spoke freely and fearlessly about feelings and experiences others found difficult to express. May he be truly free now. Rest, sir.” 

Mooney was born Paul Gladney on August 4, 1941, in Shreveport, Louisiana and he was primarily raised by his grandmother. He got one of his early starts as a ringmaster at the circus, where he told jokes and got on his path to eventual Black comedy lore. 

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