Tonight on The Terrordome: RICHARD PRYOR - Comedy, Life and Death

Tonight on The Terrordome we’ll hear part one of a two part special on Richard Pryor, including clips from Pryor's stand up routines from over the years. A warning— some of tonight’s programme contains adult language and content. You might want to restrict your children from hearing tonight’s show. The show begins 6 pm Mountain time--click THE TERRORDOME link on the left (under "Minister Faust Audio").

Writing in a Tuesday obituary, George Curry, former editor of Emerge Magazine and currently the editor in chief of the US-based National Newspaper Publishers Association, eulogised comedian Richard Pryor, who passed away Saturday at age 65. Curry wrote in part:

“Richard Pryor, the groundbreaking comedian who died over the weekend of a heart attack, was known for his foul mouth, insight into racism, and honesty, a combination that caused many to be repelled by him and many more to be mesmerized by his brilliance.... Pryor... had been battling multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease that strikes the central nervous system, for two decades. Although America was not unfamiliar with Black comics... Dick Gregory, Redd Foxx and Bill Cosby – none of them could have prepared the nation for Richard Pryor.

"Pryor [in turn] prepared the world for a series of edgy comedians: Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, David Letterman [and] David Chappelle.... [According to Keenen Ivory Wayans,] ‘Richard Pryor is the groundbreaker.... [He] showed us that you can be Black and have a Black voice and be successful.’

"Playwright Neil Simon called Pryor ‘the most brilliant comic in America.’ Comedian Bob Newhart said Pryor was ‘the single most seminal comedic influence in the last 50 years.’ And Eddie Murphy said that Richard Pryor was ‘better than anyone who ever picked up a microphone.’”

George Curry continues: "A high school drop-out, Pryor initially patterned his career after Bill Cosby.... Paul Mooney, one of Pryor’s closest friends and a fellow comedian, told the Los Angeles Times 10 years ago. “Black people sank into Pryor’s material like an easy chair…That’s what his talent was: talking about black people to black people.’ Pryor said cursing wasn’t the worst thing one could do. 'A lie is profanity.... A lie is the worst thing in the world. Art is the ability to tell the truth, especially about one’s self.'

"In his autobiography, Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences... [Pryor] recounts: 'There was a world of junkies and winos, pool hustlers and prostitutes, women and family screaming inside of my head, trying to be heard. The longer I kept them bottled up, the harder they tried to escape. The pressure built til I went nuts.' He won five Grammys for his comedy albums. He was an accomplished writer, providing scripts for Sanford and Son, The Flip Wilson Show and winning an Emmy for a Lily Tomlin television special. At one point, Pryor was the highest paid Black entertainer in Hollywood. He appeared in more than 40 movies, including Lady Sings the Blues, Jo Jo Dancer, Bustin’ Loose, Car Wash... Superman III, Blue Collar and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings....

“After seeing the all-White cast of Logan’s Run, a science fiction movie, Pryor said: ‘…White folks ain’t planning for us to be here. That’s why we gotta make movies, and we be in the future. But we got to make some really hip movies. We done made enough movies about pimps because white people already know about pimpin’. ‘Cause we the biggest hos they got.’

"It was a trip to Zimbabwe in 1980 that caused Pryor to quit using the n-word. ‘There are no niggers here,’ he wrote in his autobiography. ‘The people here, they still have their self-respect, their pride.’ And so,” concludes George Curry, “does Richard Pryor.”


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