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Roxbury’s Patrice O’Neal goes from heckler to comedy star

By Megan Johnson
Friday, October 8, 2010

Boston stand-up guy Patrice O’Neal knows firsthand that sometimes hecklers can do better than the comic bombing on stage.

And that’s because O’Neal, who hails from Roxbury, was that annoying guy sitting at Boston’s long-defunct comedy club Estelle’s a few years ago!

One night, Patrice, who had given up a football scholarship at Northeastern University for a degree in theater arts, was being a big mouth in the audience when the unfunny comic invited him on stage.

“I just got on stage,” O’Neal told the Track. “I was heckling – being the audience member I can’t stand now. I thought I was funnier than any comic I saw.”

Well, he was that night, and it started his career touring the major clubs in the northeast.

Beats selling sausage subs at the Ruggles MBTA station, peanuts and popcorn at the old Boston Garden and working the door at the Comedy Connection!

Now famous for his standup specials on HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central, Patrice is looking to branch out into film and TV.

He’s already gotten a taste of prime-time success on NBC’s “The Office” as one of the Dunder-Mifflin warehouse workers. But there’s no limit to his ambitions for the future.

“I want to be as close to the top as possible, but in my own world. Top of the food chain,” said O’Neal, who headlines “Comix at Foxwoods” tonight and tomorrow.

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