Outspoken comedian and writer Paul Mooney has never been known to bite his tongue. One of the most unfiltered mouths and minds in the business, Mooney has always brazenly voiced his opinions on culture and society through his own stand-up, as a writer for Richard Pryor, and even in sillier bits like his "Negrodamus" sketch on "Chappelle's Show." On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Mooney will be in Atlanta at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre taping "The Godfather of Comedy" for pay-per-view. Mooney recently spoke with Creative Loafing about why pay-per-view chose him for its first-ever comedy special, and why he has Lindsay Lohan to thank for it.
Pay-per-view has never shot a comedy special before. Was this taping an idea that you had and came to them with, or did they decide they finally wanted to do a comedy special and reached out to you?
They reached out to me. They're smart, I guess.
The special is called "The Godfather of Comedy." Do you consider yourself to be the godfather of comedy, and is that a name you're comfortable with?
Well, that's what they've been calling me. So I'll be like Jesus and go with it if that's what they call me.
Why did you decide to tape your special in Atlanta? Do you have a special attachment to the city?
Well, Atlanta is down South and I have a big following down there. I'm from the South. I was born in Louisiana, so I'm comfortable in the South. I didn't want it to be out in California where all the black Anglo-Saxons live. Their skin is black but their brain is white. I call them "Graham Crackers."
Do you live in California now with all of the Graham Crackers?
No. I live in Harlem with the white people. Harlem is all white now; white people are safe in our neighborhoods, but we're not safe in theirs — so who really hates who?
Do you honestly feel that way? You really feel hated when you go out in general society?
Are you black?
Well then, that's why you would ask me a question like that.
So with feelings like that, is your normal, racially and politically charged content what viewers can expect to see in this special?
Of course it is. I speak on America. Mel Gibson, Dr. Laura, Tiger Woods, thank you. I don't even need to write, they write it for me. Lindsay Lohan, thank you!
Do you still travel and perform regularly?
I do stand-up everywhere, all the time. Stand-up is what I do. It's my favorite kind of all the live performances. Comedians are the last truth-sayers.
Are you still solely focused on your own career and continuing to perform, or are you mentoring any young comedians that you've wanted to work with?
I'm still focused on my own career, but you never know. I still have famous people in my life that I might work with. Eddie Murphy was thinking about getting back to stand-up, so you never know.
Are there any other projects you're currently working on, or just finished up?
I have a new book out called Black is the New White. It's serious, but it's comedy, too. It's all about my relationship with Richard Pryor and how I came to be a comedian, and, really ... it's my story.