Ever sat on the front row at a black comedy show? If so, you know there’s a chance that you might just be the direct target of a joke or two.  A couple of years ago I sat right up front for a Paul Mooney show. While jokes about me weren’t part of the routine, it was a bit strange to have him look me (and a few other front row members) dead in the eye while he told jokes. Some of the jokes weren’t funny, but since he was starting right at me, I turned into an instant studio laugh machine. I laughed on cue and relaxed when he finally turned to stare down somebody else.

Paul Mooney is funny, but he does have his moments when he’s not. That said, I didn’t bother with taking a second look when I spotted Mooney’s latest book. But after reading an article and an excerpt online, it might get a consideration (like if I go to jail and all I have is time to sit around and read books—but that probably won’t happen). Read an excerpt from Paul Mooney’s memoir Black is the New White:

I’m sliding into a booth in a coffee shop on Santa Monica Boulevard, slapping the table to wake Richard Pryor from his hangovernod. “Man,” I say to him, “I just saw a lady so pretty, somebody should suck her daddy’s dick for a job well done.” Richard stares at me. Early afternoon, too early for Richard. I smell the brandy he doses his coffee with. He is a little slowed-down by all the poisons in his blood, but even slowed-down Richard Pryor is quicker than any other human being on earth. He laughs. I’m not saying Richard just laughs like an ordinary person laughs. I mean he laughs. His face lights up like a Times Square billboard and his whole body wags like a dog happy to see its owner. You know you can die happy when you can make Richard Pryor laugh. It’s this huge blast of appreciation, hipness, and intelligence. He getsit. His laugh is like ripping open a bag of joy, letting loose a storm that blows you head over heels. It is that powerful. The greatest comics — and Richard is bar none the greatest — always have the greatest laughs. (More…)

Happy reading, y’all.