Divine Comedy: 25 Best Stand-Up Specials and Movies

From classic HBO specials to arena-comic concert flicks, these bits continue to crack us up

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22. 'Patrice O’Neal: Elephant in the Room' (2011)

While it's always tempting to venerate public personalities who die young, the underappreciated raconteur Patrice O'Neal could never be mistaken for a saint; the proof is in the comic's only special, recorded shortly before he died in 2011. "I'm here to tell you what we are, not who we are," O'Neal tells his crowd, and his unflinching, intuitive dissections of the ugly male psyche, libidos and relationships do that and then some. He tests his audience's limits, but his rhetorical skill and disarming shrug keep them under his spell whether he expounds on a holiday called Harrassment Day or daydreams about spousal murder. Friend and fellow comedian Keith Robinson summed up O'Neal's paradoxical appeal for New York Magazine in 2012: "When you question a lot, you are wrong a lot, but he'd present the case like a champion. I'm arguing, and at the same time thinking, How this dude is working this!" ML

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