A long-in-the-works idea of a documentary about the late, great, Patrice O’Neal looks like it’s finally going to happen. Today Comedy Central announced that they will collaborate with All Things Comedy to produce a currently untitled documentary about O’Neal. Showcasing the life of the late comic through his material and the words of his friends. O’Neal passed in 2011 and ever since then his friends in the comedy community have sung his praises about how unique a voice in comedy he was. Never fully recognized for his work while alive, O’Neal has since been canonized in death.
A few years after his passing, an crowdfunding campaign was launched by O’Neal’s longtime girlfriend Von Decarlo and some filmmakers to produce a doc about Patrice called Better Than You. That crew raised the money and began production, but through a series of events we as the public might never fully know all of, that documentary never came to be. A series of reddit threads and fan video heavily speculated that the money was mismanaged on that project. Said project was ultimately shuttered without a finished film as the creative team split from Decarlo and actually signed the rights to the project over to Comedy Central so it could be finished. Whether this new announcement of the All Things Comedy partnership will be working off that film’s blueprint and already-collected footage is currently unknown.
The folks at All Things Comedy make perfect sense for this collaboration. ATC is run by the one and only Bill Burr, one of O’Neal’s closest friends and the man who has organized and executed an annual benefit for O’Neal in NYC every year for the last 8 years since Patrice’s passing. In addition to Comedy Central and Burr’s team, the film will be directed by Michael Bonfiglio who most recently directed Gary Gulman’s HBO special, The Great Depresh and Von Decarlo is also mentioned as a producer of the film.
The documentary will tell Patrice’s story and explore the hilarious and controversial material he left behind. Taking advantage of a large online archive of material and some never-before-seen personal materials from his family and friends, interviews with his comedian friends, and conversations with those that were influenced by him in today’s comedy scene.
“Patrice was a tour de force in comedy who left an indelible stamp on the stand-up community and beyond,” said Sarah Babineau and Jonas Larsen, Co-Heads of Original Content, Comedy Central. “Comedy Central had the incredible opportunity to work with him throughout his career from Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, to the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen and to his last stand-up special Elephant in the Room. Patrice was a fearless and fierce comedian and we’re honored to be able to shine a light on his life and career with this documentary.”
“I am very excited and proud to have gotten this project in the hands of Comedy Central, and now with Bill Burr and All Things Comedy aboard, as well as, our director Michael Bonfiglio,” said Decarlo. “This makes for an absolute dream team to help his mother and I bring Patrice’s story to the masses, and solidify his legacy for generations to come.”
“So happy that Mike Bonfiglio and Comedy Central are going to make this happen,” said Burr. “Patrice was the best that I ever saw.”
Production on the documentary is slated to begin later this fall.