Comedy fans were left mourning on Nov. 29, when news spread that veteran comedian Patrice O’Neal had passed away at the age of 41, from complications of a stroke he suffered last month.
According to The New York Daily News, O’Neal’s agent, Matt Frost, confirmed the comedian’s death in a statement, saying, “Many of us have lost a close and loved friend. All of us have lost a true comic genius.”
O’Neal, who was living in the New York area at the time of his death, was a diabetic and suffered a stroke on Oct. 19. Frost revealed that O’Neal died with his mother, Georgia, and best friend, Gloria, by his side.
News of O’Neal’s death sent shock waves throughout the comedy world and a number of his celebrity friends shared their heartfelt reactions to his death.
The hosts of the popular XM radio show, “Opie and Anthony,” for which O’Neal was a frequent guest, were the first to report the news of the comedian’s death.
“Yes, it’s true that our pal, Patrice O’Neal, has passed away. The funniest and best thinker I’ve ever known PERIOD. #devastated,” tweeted Gregg “Opie” Hughes. “The word genius is thrown around way too easily these days but tonight it’s completely justified. Patrice O’Neal will always be a GENIUS!”
O’Neal was also a frequent face on “Comedy Central” and was regular guest on the now defunct “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.”
“One of a kind. In heaven right now, charming half and infuriating half, then reversing,” tweeted Colin Quinn.
Born on Dec. 7, 1969, O’Neal began his decades-long career in his hometown of Boston in the early ’90s, learning the ropes of stand-up comedy before he eventually moved to Los Angeles and earned roles in films like 25th Hour, Scary Movie 4 and Furry Vengeance. O’Neal also nabbed guest spots on famed TV shows like, “Chappelle’s Show,” “The Office,” “Arrested Development” and “Conan.”
In February, HBO aired O’Neal’s solo comedy special, “Elephant in the Room,” and in September he gave his final TV performance at the roast for Charlie Sheen.
“Patrice had that rare ‘light’ around him and inside of him,” Sheen said via Twitter. “I only knew him for the few days leading up the roast. Yet I will forever be inspired by his nobility, his grace and his epic talent. My tears today are for the tremendous loss to his true friends and loving family.”
O’Neal is survived by his wife, Vondecarlo; stepdaughter, Aymilyon; sister, Zinder; and mother, Georgia. Our condolences go out to O’Neal’s family and friends. Below, you can check out six other deaths that rocked the comedy world. –nicholas robinson