Sure Richard Pryor will always be remembered as the best standup comedian ever. But he was much more than that. He was also one of the most intriguing and successful social experiments the entertainment world has ever experienced.
Here was a man who could be daring and edgy, using every swear word known to man in order to appeal to completely crass, counter-culture crowds. Then again, he could also be the cynical African-American entertainer who used his forum on stage to comment on the state of race relations. And he could also move in yet an entirely different direction, starring in films that appealed to both high-minded critics and young children, aka the mainstream.
In other words, there was no group that Pryor couldn’t reach with his humor. He won an Emmy, Grammys and, in 1998, the first ever Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
No matter how wild his personal life became – and it got pretty wild for a long while – he still came across as a guy that anyone could relate to. “Marrige is rough,” he once said. “You have to deal with feelings…and lawyers.” Whether you were rich or poor, black or white, old or young, you could always find something in his work that reminded you of yourself or your friends. And yet, you still felt a little raunchy or radical watching one of his standup specials or movie appearances.
Pryor has had many imitators over the years. It’s hard to imagine any standup comic of the past three decades that hasn’t somehow been influenced by his genius. Still, there’s nothing like the original. With that in mind, and to celebrate Black History Month, XFINITY Streampix has collected a few of his classic TV and movie appearances that are worth checking out again or for the first time.
Bustin’ Loose: Richard Pryor is a con man maneuvered into working with disturbed kids.
Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling: It’s a wrong number for Richard Pryor, who wrote, directed and stars in this semiautobiography.
Stir Crazy: Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, arrested for a “fowl” deed, find themselves doing time.
The Wiz: Lavish sets, Manhattan locations and urban rhythms highlight this version of “The Wizard of Oz,” based on the Broadway hit.
California Suite: Adaptation of Neil Simon’s stage hit about five couples staying at a Beverly Hills hotel.
Car Wash: Ethnic humor showers this account of a day at an L.A. establishment.