I slept late on the career of Bernie Mac, missing his early stand-up and "Moesha" altogether. Looking at his IMDB page now, I'm reminded that I saw almost all the movies he made in the 90's, but the first time he really made an impression on me was his devastating clean-up spot in 2000's The Original Kings of Comedy.
People think I'm nuts when I tell them that movie changed my life, but it did. I saw it in a theater somewhere in Westchester the night before a friend's wedding. I didn't quite know what to expect, and that movie made me laugh myself stupid, at a time in my life when Nothing Was Funny. To me, the movie was about growing up and accepting responsibility, and how it really ain't all bad — you can do it, we all can do it. It was my Breaking Away, I suppose.
His TV show was nice, personable, featured Matt Besser at least once. Except for his awesome turn in Bad Santa, his movies were also mostly of the nice variety. I'm sure he was a nice guy in real life, too. But when he was onstage, on fire, that was one funny, honest-to-goodness grown-ass motherfucker. So long and thanks, Bernie.