I try to refrain from blogging too much about the passing of entertainers, lest I come off like a buzzard, but Bernie Mac was an inspiration to me and many others and I can't let his loss just pass without mention. He was my favorite living comedian and I'll miss his humor.
I always loved his attitude toward children- a mixture of disdain and violent justice. He reminded me a lot of two other late greats, W.C. Fields and Robin Harris (whose character in House Party was shown to be Bernie Mac's brother in the third installment.)
Just like me, he was raised by a single mother who died when he was sixteen. He then moved to Tampa, just as I did. Unlike me, he started getting small roles in films, beginning with Who's the Man? in 1993. In 2000 he appeared in The Original Kings of Comedy, which I mainly watched for Ced the Entertainer. I ended up being blown away by Bernie Mac, though, literally rolling on the floor with laughter at his routine. Next to D.L. Hughley's familiar, cliched "black people are like this, white people are like that" schtick and Steve Harvey's G-rated advice, Bernie Mac shone (despite being really dark).
In 2001, he got his own show. The Bernie Mac Show, like few other comedies, was fairly unique (for network TV) in that it didn't have a damned laugh track, leaving the viewer to figure out what was funny. Whilst toned down from his stage act, he showed he could still usually be funny even without profanity or punching kids in the throat.
He often played irritable characters, easy to anger, and often getting the bested by the source of his annoyance. Sometimes it was hard to tell where the fictional Mac ended and the real Bernie began. I watched him once on Leno. Being a clueless dolt, Leno criticized Mac for his immaculate pedicure. Bernie seemed genuinely puzzled and annoyed by Leno's teasing that getting your nails done is something bizarre for a man. Bernie just kept saying, "Don't go there" to the clueless host. What kind of tool thinks having gross hands is manly? Bernie said he felt sorry for the ex-Doritos shill's wife. I thought it was classic.
Last year, on Letterman, he announced his attention to retire after 30 years. He completed shooting The Whole Truth, Nothing but the Truth, So Help Me Mac. He told Letterman, "I'm going to still do my producing, my films, but I want to enjoy my life a little bit," Mac told Letterman. "I missed a lot of things, you know."
Mac suffered from sarciudisus, a type of lung disease. A week ago he was hospitalized. According to his publicist, he died today from complications arising from pneumonia. He was only 50.
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