Can we please have a moment of silence . . .
For the funniest motherfucker on the planet.
Richard Pryor (1940-2005)
"Richard Pryor showed us what it was like to live in the inner city. His concepts are so hysterically funny and unique" -- Comedian Bob Newhart
Legendary funnyman Richard Pryor, who elevated the art form of stand-up comedy, died Saturday morning (Dec. 10) of a heart attack at his home in California's San Fernando Valley. He was 65. "He enjoyed life right up until the end," said his wife, Richard Lee Pryor.
Richard's raw, uninhibited comedic style influenced countless of comedians including Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Robin Williams, Chris Rock and many others. Richard's acerbic humor were often mined from his troubled personal life, which included, his infamous 1980 suicide attempt when he doused himself with cognac and lit himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. He also had survived two heart attacks and triple bypass surgery. But Richard had been ill for many years with multiple sclerosis since being diagnosed with the disease in the 1990s. "Sometimes they used to have that on the news that I was dead," Richard said in a routine about his M.S. "That to me is the weirdest shit, to be assumed dead and you still be alive."
Richard's career spans three decades in television and film. Among the movies he starred in were Lady Sings the Blues, Car Wash, Stir Crazy, Harlem Nights and others. "[Richard] was an innovator [and] a trailblazer," said filmmaker Spike Lee.
Fellow comedian Mike Epps (The Honeymooners) has signed on to portray Richard in an upcoming biopic.
"The script is about some of the things that made Richard Pryor who [he really] was," says Mike about the project. "This man [has] got some beautiful stories about himself. How he donated money to Martin Luther King, when nobody else donated him money for a project he was doing.
"[Richard] was really, really down with the Black community in Berkley [Calif.]," Mike continues. "[And] in Oakland . . . with the Black Panthers. "He [also] helped kids. I think the story needs to cover that, more so than anything, because everybody knows [about the bad stuff he did]. We want to show the beauty of him, because it's never been shown. I'm honored to play him."
I'm not going to get into a long diatribe on the legacy of this comic genius. Like many of you, I first heard of Richard's greatness through his comedy albums that my moms would hide from me when I was a young'un. And of course, when moms wasn't around I would sneak into her room and listened to them on her raggedy turntable.
Saucy Dame recently gave me for my birthday a Richard Pryor DVD featuring his two live concerts films -- Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip and Here and Now. I plan on watching these two films throughout the holidays in remembrance of Richard. And for all of you Richard Pryor fans, I suggest you go cop these two Richard Pryor boxed sets. They both have a treasure trove of comedy bits -- some unreleased material, as well. I'm currently importing/downloading these collections into my iPod nano.
Also, read veteran comedy/comic-book writer Mark Evanier's fond memories of Richard. Back in the days, Mark penned scripts for such shows as Welcome Back Kotter and Baby, I'm Back, which starred Desmond Wilson (of Sanford & Son fame). In 1984, he was hired to write Pryor's Place, Richard's short-lived 1984 kids' show that he produced for CBS Saturday morning. Mark recalls the first time he ever saw Richard on stage cracking jokes. Read his thoughts on Richard HERE.
Jeff Chang offers some heavenly comedy from Rich P's album, Supernigger.
Rest in peace, Richard.
You are my hero and you will be sorely missed.
Love Always . . .