Comedian Patrice O'Neal, seen most recently on "The Roast Of Charlie Sheen," suffered a stroke last week and remains hospitalized, according to his peers and friends who made the announcement Wednesday morning on the Opie & Anthony radio show.
Comedians Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, Robert Kelly, Rich Vos and Keith Robinson made the announcement as a group on the popular show, of which O'Neal has been a frequent guest.
Kelly made the initial announcement, with the others eventually chiming in: "We're all here to let people know that one of our really, really good friends fell ill, fell sick... Patrice O'Neal had a stroke."
Norton went on to explain that there is very little information on O'Neal's condition to be conveyed at this time. "We don't know how he is. It's too soon to tell. Anybody who knows about strokes, it takes a while sometimes, we just don't know. We don't know how he is going to be."
While it has been a week since the incident, the news had been kept quiet at the family's request. But as word began to spread amongst the comedy community, Norton and the others decided an official announcement coming from O'Neal's friends was appropriate. Kelly went on to encourage fans to respect the privacy of the comedian's family.
"It's tempting to try to reach out, but you've got to let the family alone. Don't try to find out where he is, don't try to send him anything. He's being transferred anyway, we just don't know where."
They then requested that people who want to send messages to O'Neal, direct them to an email address that has been created for that purpose, email@example.com.
Finally, Norton made it clear that they were not there to speak of their friend in the past tense. "This is not a memorial. This is not why these guys are in here. I didn't want to do it by myself."
During his appearance in September on the Comedy Central Roast Of Charlie Sheen, O'Neal weathered jokes about his long-term struggle with diabetes, and struck back at his fellow roasters when he took his turn at the podium: "How the fuck can I be too mean after all this shit. I can't believe it. I'm dying of diabetes and you motherfuckers are like, 'Oh, that evil fat fuck.'"
O'Neal spoke with Huffington Post following the Roast taping:
While his comedy is often polarizing, O'Neal is revered by comedy fans and peers alike for his sharp wit and fearlessness. Whether on stage or off, O'Neal has a playful way of crossing the line with people; you can get a sense of that in this interview with LaughSpin's Dylan Gadino.
As Robert Kelly said today, "We know a lot of people love Patrice, even the people who didn't like him, liked him."
More on this story as it develops.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed two statements to Jim Norton that were actually made by Robert Kelly. We regret the error.