Paul Mooney (died May 19th, aged 79)
Comedian Paul Mooney died of a heart attack at his home in Oakland, California. Mooney, whose real name is Paul Gladney, was best known as a writer for comedian Richard Pryor. Mooney helped Pryor write his several stand-up performances and albums, including Live on the Sunset Strip and Is It Something I Said. Pryor also served as the head writer on The Richard Pryor Show, where Mooney helped break new comedic talents, including Robin Williams, John Witherspoon, Sandra Bernhard, and Tim Reid.
Mooney also took on a number of onscreen roles like Sam Cooke in 1978’s The Buddy Holly Story, Junebug in Spike Lee’s 2000 satirical film Bamboozled, and Negrodamus in Chappelle’s Show. While Mooney’s humor was generally made out of the African-American experience, it’s actually a satirical analysis of racial politics in the U.S., with many of his jokes and punchlines mirroring the deeper pain and injustice caused by racism.