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Richard Pryor



The first time that I listened to a Richard Pryor album, I couldn't really understand what he was saying. It sounded good... but I didn't know what it was all about. The second time I listened to a Richard Pryor album, I couldn't really understand what he was saying. It sounded good... but I didn't know what it was all about.

This continued for a good few times to come. It took me a while to appreciate Richard's style of comedy, because the substance of his act can be quite inaccessible, and even his speech and language can be difficult to understand. It took many plays of his CDs to allow me to connect with him. The comedy of Richard Pryor is no longer a mystery to me.

It's worth making the effort to get into Richard Pryor. For other comedians wanting to do good work, he is a definitely a comedian whose work you should get to know. He shows how real feelings and experiences are the best sources of material. He uses his voice as well as any comedian ever has. He can populate the stage with a variety of characters. He can give a voice and character to all kinds of animals and even inanimate objects.

The best place to start with getting to know his work is the Warner Brothers box set of CD albums '...And It's Deep too!'. This includes all his best work from the mid-seventies to the end of his working life as a comedian. You'll find this collection is great value for the small amount it will cost you.

The earliest video performance available is 'Live and Smokin' from 1971. This is a Richard Pryor still looking to find his true voice as a comedian after abandoning a career as a Las Vegas and TV entertainer, and evolving into the provocative artist expressing his true personality and presenting material based on real-life experience.

This is a STRANGE show. He is on stage in what appears to be a small club, performing to an VERY small audience who are clearly not fans. We never see them, but can hear their silence. I can relate to this type of experience, and I find it a compelling performance to watch.

There are three other video/DVDs available. The best by a little is "Live in Concert" from 1978, shortly before Pryor nearly died from being badly burned, an incident that we now know to be a suicide attempt. This is a different performance to the CD of the same name, and involves the same material.

The two performances after that from 1982 and 1983 are lesser affairs, possibly because by then Richard Pryor was a different man, even by his own estimation. Whatever the difference in him, as a comedian he is clearly no longer on the ascent. He is not such an exciting performer. By the end of the 80's he would be suffering from MS, no longer able to walk or see, and his legendary power of speech leaving him.

Today, Richard Pryor more and more seems to be a forgotten genius of stand-up comedy... probably due to the awful movies he made which are so much better known than his work on stage. That's too bad, but if I can encourage you to seek out his CDs, video and DVDs, that's great.

The best Richard Pryor website available is the official one controlled by his wife, but I'm still looking for more good websites that celebrate the comedy of Richard Pryor, so if you know of any please let me know.



Links:

Brilliant Careers Website
Official Richard Pryor Website
Video clip 1
Video clip 2


geoffparfitt@supanet.com