Richard Pryor, named “Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor, was born on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois. Pryor grew up in a brothel run by his grandmother and where his mother worked as a prostitute. His mother eventually abandoned him when he was 10, leaving him to be raised by his strict and violent grandmother, Mary Carter. Pryor began his comedy career very clean and influenced by Bill Cosby. His early work lead to much success, including appearances on late night shows such as, “the Ed Sullivan show” and “the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”. His popularity led him to becoming a regular in Las Vegas, which changed in September of 1967, when he walked off stage at a sold out Aladdin hotel in Las Vegas. Sick of and unsure of his material, Pryor began to immerse himself in the counterculture of that time, which would heavily influence his material in the future. During the early 70s, he tried to break into mainstream television by writing for shows and making multiple appearances in feature films. In 1974 he released his breakthrough album, “That Nigger’s Crazy”, which was a critical and commercial success. It won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Record in 1976 and was the first of three consecutive Grammy’s that he would win. The next few decades he continued to release comedy specials and make appearances in many popular films, until passing on December 10, 2005.
This week, Kaizen Komedy tackles another comedy legend, “Richard Pryor”. Pryor is a great example of pursuing material that he was generally connected to. And through vulnerability and raw emotions, he was able to make light of past and current experiences. He is a master storyteller and one of the biggest influences for many comics today.
Bits analyzed: The N Word; Live on the Sunset: Women; Shortage of white People