Because Everybody Is Entitled To My Opinion

"O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, . . . in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2).
"Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm 85:6)

Monday, December 12, 2005

In Memoriam: Richard Pryor

Saturday comedian Richard Pryor passed away. He was 65. I don't think there was a routine on any of his albums that I or most of my friends hadn't memorize. Hanging out we would sometimes just say the punchlines and burst into laughter. When I got older and attended prep school I was absolutly amazed at how many wealthy white kids had also heard those same routines although they were very nervous any time they used the N-word. They laughed and kept watching me to see how I would react. Pryor's acting career had taken off and he even had a very funny (very short lived) NBC variety show.

Today I can't condone his style of comedy. I don't find the contemporary comedians; comedians who ironically might never have gotten into comedy if it were for Pryor's ground breaking work, funny at all. They have all the swearing down but they lack the ability to convey the humor of people relations the way Richard did. I view it as a bittersweet legacy and I am probably in the minority in that opinion.
Although he was not the first comedian to liberally use the N-word or the F-word or any number of other once-unspoken-in-public words, Pryor seemed to use them to greater comedic effect than anyone else. When he was at his best he was not just funny, he was laugh-out-loud, falling-down, tears-in-your-eyes funny...

Pryor's comedy also drew equally warm reactions from white comedians, including Bob Newhart, who on Saturday called Pryor "the single most seminal comedic influence in the last 50 years..."

Fellow comedian Steve Martin noted upon Pryor's death: "By expressing his heart, anger and joy, Richard Pryor took comedy to its highest form."
My prayers go out to his family and friends.

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