His rhinestone tie sparkling, trademark bandanna securely around his head, comedian Paul Mooney sat himself down on a stool Thursday at the Improv, poured a tall glass of champagne from the bottle chilling beside him and proceeded to jump headfirst into the racial divide.
"White people are insane," Mooney declared matter-of-factly. Whites are always looking for "something out there" when they "can't contact the people here!" Mooney never worries that he's alone in the universe -- "not with all those police following me." The creator of the hilariously dyspeptic Homey the Clown, Mooney says he watches the "Planet of the Apes" films and roots for the monkeys: "Get 'em!"
But then, Mooney sympathetically noted that "it hasn't been a fun year for white folks." First there was Tiger Woods, then Heaven's Gate. Contending that Tiger Woods "doesn't want to be black," Mooney refuses to watch golf, until "they start biting." Besides, he said, "a golf course is too much like a plantation."
"I love getting racial," he said with a grin. "It drives people crazy."
The largely African American audience was only crazy with laughter. It's a shame that Mooney seems to draw a fairly segregated crowd. While his language is explicit in the extreme, his material is not juvenile Def Jam raunch, but adult in the best sense -- based on the hard facts of life, as Mooney sees them, of course. Mooney delights in throwing history in the face of conventional wisdom, like tracing Ebonics back to the pirates -- from whom apparently we also got the term "booty call."
"Don't be offended, white people," Mooney said, adding, "my parents are white."
Then he laughed into his champagne glass.