As you’ve probably already heard, Richard Pryor
died yesterday. He’d turned 65
a little over a week ago, but had suffered with multiple sclerosis
for years. The disease made Richard
seem older and robbed him [and us] of years that he could have been performing.
In the coming days you will hear testimony from comics, celebrities and others about Richard Pryor. Most will proclaim him to be one of the greatest comedians of all time. They’d be right, but Richard Pryor was much more than just a guy who told jokes.
Richard was a former soldier [two years in the army]. He was a great stand-up comedian. His comedy albums are classics. Pryor worked in television as an actor and writer [even starring in a short-lived series that was ahead of it’s time]. He also appeared in nearly 40 feature films, several of which he wrote, produced and/or directed.
Pryor’s comedy was raw. Sure, the language was quite often foul, but that’s not what I mean when I say his comedy was raw. Pryor’s comedy wasn’t superficial. He didn’t just relate funny stories. Pryor’s comedy crossed age barriers, color differences, and made you think even as you were laughing till the tears came. That’s because Richard’s comedy was founded in truth. He talked about racism, drug addiction, sex, male -female relations, and more.
Sure, he made us laugh… but equally important, he made us think.
The funniest movie that I ever saw was Richard Pryor Live. I saw it in a crowded theater in 1979. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a concert movie. Richard Pryor, a microphone and a crowded ampitheater. I never laughed so hard in my life.
I laughed to tears and beyond. My sides were truly hurting by the time the movie was over. And I wanted to hear more. I talked about the movie for days. Telling others that they should go and sharing laughs with people who’d seen it. Heck, it’s 26 years later and I’m still recommending it.
I’m sad to hear that Richard Pryor is no longer with us. I’m just as sad that he had to suffer so long from multiple sclerosis.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and fans.