Born in Massachusetts, comedian Patrice O'Neal began honing his skills on the microphone during his early twenties at comedy clubs in his native Boston. A star athlete in high school, O'Neal turned down football scholarships in lieu of studying performing arts at Northeastern University with the help of a public housing grant. After graduating, O'Neal began moving to bigger cities, looking for a comedy scene where he wouldn't have to battle comedy-club owners over his now famously confrontational stage act, in which he often provoked audience members and pitted couples against each other. He tried New York, Los Angeles, and London before returning to New York in 2002, where he got an offer to do a stand-up special for Showtime. The pay-cable station proved a good fit for O'Neal's no-holds-barred style, and with the fame he garnered from the special, he would go on to appear on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and Comedy Central Presents.
With his stand-up career in full force, O'Neal also began acting on-screen in the early 2000s, playing memorable roles on Arrested Development, Chappelle's Show, and The Jury. O'Neal additionally became a successful radio personality, appearing frequently on shows like Opie and Anthony and hosting his own show on XM Radio. Tragically, O'Neal had a stroke in October 2011 and died a month later at age 41.