BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
Following allegations of insensitivity and racial hate toward Boston bomb victims during his performance at West Nyack’s Levity Live comedy club, comedian Paul Mooney appeared on the nationally syndicated radio talk show Opie and Anthony Tuesday morning to clear the air on the matter. Before he was done he accused the police of setting him up in Rockland!
Greg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia–whose program originated in Boston in the 1990s– appeared sympathetic to Mooney, a frequent guest through the years.
Hughes and Cumia, and their co-host Jimmy Norton, each defended the comic, with Cumia saying, “We all know how Mooney is…It’s ridiculous to think that anything he says is this insensitive thing. It’s who he is, it’s his comedy; that’s what he says, he’s Paul Mooney. He’s got a history, this isn’t something new. This isn’t Obama heading to the Rose Garden with the podium and (expletive) saying it. It’s Paul Mooney.”
Norton chimed in, “You know the comedy world is in trouble when Paul Mooney has to answer for what he says.”
Hughes, Cumia and Norton questioned whether Mooney’s Rockland County act was explicitly racial, or if audience members misunderstood and overreacted. Mooney denied it was explicitly racial, and noted he’s from a very diverse part of Louisiana and in fact is part-white.
However, Rocklanders posting on the Rockland County Times Facebook page who said they attended the show, confirmed prior reports that Mooney had mocked the death of whites in Boston. The act had created enough controversy that Levity Live cancelled his Sunday performance, thus drawing media attention.
Bizarrely, Mooney spent the first several minutes of the conversation with the talk show hosts in a ramble that may have struck even Alex Jones listeners as paranoid claptrap. Mooney first said the Boston bombings were an inside police job, and then went on to imply that his own troubles in Rockland County were due to double agents and spies, and that it wasn’t the first time “they” were after him.
In perhaps his strangest string of thoughts, he claimed the police presence at Levity Live was comprised of very large (presumably white) men with African-American wives. He said the police purposely spread rumors about his performance. He also said security and staff working at Levity Live had “white supremacist” tattoos on their neck.
After getting these thoughts out of his system, the 71-year-old Mooney seemed to calm down. He pointed out that many of the persons who left his show offended were there to see his opening act, and that the majority of the crowd stuck with him through his set. He explained that he wasn’t too concerned about how people reacted to what he said, because people will “hear what they want to hear.”
After Mooney hung up, the hosts mocked Mooney’s rambling conspiracy theories and praised Levity Live as a good venue for comedy. Mooney had also revealed that he was paid for the cancelled show on Sunday.
At one point during Mooney’s interview with Opie & Anthony the subject of Michael Richards’ use of the “n-word” several years ago came up. Mooney defended Richards to a point, explaining that the former Seinfeld co-star was under extreme duress during the show because a “gang of Gypsies” was relentlessly taunting him, led by their mother, a well-heeled stand-up comedienne.
Desperate, Richards went for the most extreme card he could pull and it backfired on him.
Listen to Mooney’s interview with Opie & Anthony for yourself.