Legendary comedian and writer Paul Mooney died on May 19, at 79 years old. Originally from Shreveport, LA, Mooney’s family moved to Oakland, CA, when he was seven years old, where the humorist famously made his bones. Mooney also passed away in “Oaktown” as well; therefore, in his honor, the city decided to commemorate May 19 as “Paul Mooney Day.”
There were already plans to celebrate Mooney before news of his death broke. Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife had filed a resolution for an established day to recognize his “uncompromising social and political commentary and iconic contributions to Black arts and entertainment.”
Towards the final days, Mooney reportedly started experiencing dementia until a heart attack ended his life. However, he will always be remembered for comedy that had frankness and punch. “[Mooney is] an Oakland treasure—a trailblazing comedian, writer, producer, film and television actor with a career spanning four decades,” the resolution reads. “[He is] a shining example of the talent in Oakland.”
Mooney’s work heavily centered around race relations in America, and his name was frequently found as a co-creator in popular media alongside other geniuses. “The best that ever did it passed away today,” Dave Chappelle said to TMZ. “His legacy will live forever. He did everything from The Richard Pryor Show to the Chappelle’s Show. He was one of the first Black people ever in the Writer’s Guild [of America]. Paul Mooney will be sorely missed and wildly remembered. I’ll see to that.”
TMZ also reported that a special tribute for Mooney will be held at Hollywood’s iconic comedy club, The Laugh Factory, on Thursday, May 27. Kevin Hart and Eddie Murphy were just two of the many heavy hitters invited.
Tiffany Haddish, herself a Cali native and Laugh Factory vet, declined her invitation because of existing work obligations but plans to send her love by video. “Paul Mooney, you are and always will be my godfather,” the Bad Trip actress wrote on Instagram. “You taught me how to put together a joke, that everybody is not my friend, that my pride will keep me homeless and how to protect my spirit and self. I will always remember your laugh…The knowledge you gave me will live forever cause I live it and share it all the time. I Love you Paul Mooney. Rest In Peace.”