Paul Mooney Talks Arizona's Immigration Law, Richard Pryor, and the Birth of Homey D. Clown

Like a cackling alarm clock, Paul Mooney really knows how to wake a motherfucker up.

On page seven of Mooney's memoir, Black Is the New White, about his 40 years on the outer edge of Hollywood, he recalls: "I'm sliding into a booth in a coffee shop on Santa Monica Boulevard, slapping the table to wake Richard Pryor from his hangover nod. 'Man,' I say to him, 'I just saw a lady so pretty, somebody should suck her daddy's dick for a job well done.'"

Earlier this week, New Times spoke with the 69-year-old joker. And he woke us the fuck up. This is part two of the Mooney interview.

New Times: What do you think of Arizona's new immigration law? Does America need to wake up?

Paul Mooney: I find it the most insulting, outrageous thing. State's rights cannot dominate human rights. They live in some other world. And you can't put that kind of negativity out there because we're at war and we're being fishbowled. Those people are watching us. We're talking about "democracy" and "freedom," but internally we're doing crazy shit. And if we don't correct it, if we don't get our shit together seriously ... Russia fell internally. Nobody attacked Russia, now did they? If we keep doing the crap we're doing, it's gonna happen to us. We're either going to hang together or hang separately, but we're going to hang.

There's this fear that policies like Arizona's will spread from state to state. Do you think that'll happen?

No. Arizona is the minority. Think Custard ... He hated Indians so much that he forced them all to get together. And that woman [Arizona governor Jan Brewer] is our Custard. She's gonna force all the minorities -- Latins, Asians, black people - to get together. They've got no other choice.

Can you break down the title of your memoir, Black Is the New White? That's a pretty heavy statement.

Well, black is the new white because it is. White people are blacker than black people now. It's the angry white man. What happened to the angry black man? These white men are angry: "I want my country back!" C'mon ... I can't even be angry anymore because the white boy took that from me.

Up until last week, I didn't know you were the mind behind Homey D. Clown. Where did that angry ex-con clown-for-hire come from?

I used to call everybody homey. And Homey D. Clown is actually me. That's the only way they could get me on TV. It's me without the edge and it made Homey D. Clown famous. You see that kind of character sticks with people like glue. It's just like Chappelle's Show when I came up with Negrodamus. That sticks with people because the joke's already there. There's no escaping the joke. It's raceless. It's colorless. Those are my favorite jokes. I love a joke that you can't escape. Even if you hate it and don't laugh, it's still funny. You can't get away from the funny.

Chappelle's Show
Negrodamus - Wayne Brady

Is that the ultimate goal as a comedy writer? To write a joke that stands alone?

That's it. But, see, Hollywood gives the white establishment total freedom. Can you imagine me going into a studio and pitching a movie, going: "Here's my idea ... I wanna throw my mama from the train!" They'd call the police on me.

This is what's funny about the movie industry. What's that porno star? The one with the big dick? Ron Jeremy! He was at the premier of Coming to America and then he came to the Comedy Store. I was onstage and I said, "You know what? It would be brilliant to do a porno called Cumming in America." And this motherfucker went out and made the movie.

He just hijacked the idea. Have you collected any royalties?

No money. But I've cursed him out about it. On Showtime, he was in the audience and I got on his ass about it. But that's Hollywood. That's what they do.

You were friends for 30-plus years. But did you and Richard Pryor like each other from the start?

Oh, no. I didn't like Richard. I put Richard out. You know, I had heard about Richard before I met him. But the second time I saw him at the club, we finally just talked and we hit it off.

With his reputation for being a pretty volatile dude, did you and Pryor beef much over the years?

I was actually Richard's greatest fan. If you listen to all his old albums, you'll hear me laughing. Richard used to crack me the fuck up! I mean he was just too funny. When we wrote together, I'd love hearing him say my material and we just got off on it. And wherever he was, if I wasn't there, his material would be different. But if he heard me, he knew someone had his back and he would really get crazy.

Most people know Richard Pryor for being an intense and wild and funny guy. What don't we know about him?

He defended people's freedom. He would get behind anybody you were fucking with. The more you dogged a person, the more Richard liked them. Say we were on a set, OK? And they said that you were an idiot and everybody said, "What is that idiot doing on the set? Get him off the set." The more you fucked with somebody, the more Richard would have that person on the set every day. And if you loved somebody and you thought he was the darling of the discotheque, Richard didn't like him. He was always for the underdog.

Has the comedy world started to forget Pryor?

They haven't forgotten Richard. They all learned from Richard. They may think that they're him or try to be him. But trust me, when Richard was alive and in his prime, they knew. It's like Elizabeth Taylor and her beauty. Now Liz is cracked and all that stuff. But when she was in her fucking prime, they knew who was the prettiest. They all knew.

So, in the end, what is Richard Pryor's place in the history of comedy?

He was absolutely on his own, a complete genius. And he opened ... Actually, he kicked in a lot of doors. He was very conscious of his blackness. Richard is the King of Comedy. He's it. The King is dead.

Paul Mooney. Friday, August 13 at 8:30 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. Miami Improv, 3390 Mary St., Coconut Grove. Tickets cost $17, plus the Improv's usual two-drink minimum. There will be additional shows on Saturday and Sunday. Call 305-441-8200 or visit miamiimprov.com.

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