With the news being dominated yesterday by the oil depot fire in Hertfordshire, news of the death of a comic great and one of my heroes, Richard Pryor was almost totally drowned out
Pryor had been suffering with multiple sclerosis for many years, the dibilatating illness forced him to retire from comedy almost completly which was a crying shame as I’m sure that many people have the same view of him as me.
His standup routines were some of the greatest ever performed by any artist and set the path for the many black comedians that came after him.
Chris Rock has recycled his material and cites Pryor as an inspiration, as does Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle, some of the best black comedians on the scene today.
Eddie Murphy has even gone as far as to say that Richard Pryor was the person that made him go into comedy, heres a snippet from the transcript of ‘RAW’;
When I was little, I wanted to be Richard so bad, I used to go out on-stage and talk and act and walk and do everything like Richard.
My mother would sit there and watch her 10-year-old son on-stage saying some outlandish shit.
Richard currently has two DVD’s out, and I can tell you, they are definitely worth getting, if you don’t already have them.
The first is ‘Richard Pryor – Live in Concert’; recorded in 1979, this is undoubtedly the most brilliant piece of comedy ever performed on stage. Richard demonstrates an ability to make even the most mundane topics, such as walking through the woods, pant-wettingly funny.
The second is ‘Richard Pryor – Live & Smokin’; recorded in 1971 is Richard at his most raw, the act is unfinished, a lot of the stuff is unrehearsed, it’s being performed in a small comedy club in New York city as opposed to the huge Terrace Theater in Long Beach, California that ‘Live in Concert’ was at. Here you can see some of Richards more controversial stuff, things that you really had to be quite brave, as a black man in 1971 to say. Absolutely amazing, it just goes to show what kind of man he really was.
We’ll miss you Richard.