RIP Richard Pryor

And I put that up and totally forgot that I haven’t done anything on the passing of Richard Pryor.
Without question, Pryor is the greatest and most influential comedian in American history, but I see him as something larger than that. As most of you, he started as a bit of a Bill Cosby sound-a-like. He was pretty funny doing that, but he didn’t become Richard Pryor until he let Richard Pryor fuel his comedy. Hetook his intelligence and demons, let them both free, and turned them into something so funny and original that he’ll be the king for as long as we remember his name.
But what worries me at times is that he used the stage as his couch and us as his therapist. Sometimes, laughing at him was uncomfortable much the way it was uncomfortable to laugh at the ODB. What was funny was what tormented him, what drove him to snort copious amounts of cocaine, what drove exacerbated his impending multiple sclerosis.
As consumers of the arts, we value what’s heartfelt and genuine. We value fucked up individuals. We love them because we can identify, and often because we’re glad to see someone’s more fucked up than we are. When those problems collide with uncanny talent, we deem those people to be legends.
And in a way, that feels wrong. I’m not sure it’s wrong, but it can feel that way.
But specific to Pryor, we should have asked that he rest in peace years ago. Like Jackie Wilson, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali, he seemed dead long before he expired. They breathed and their hearts beat, but the life was gone from them before they left Earth. Much was done to honor Pryor before he died, but I wonder how much of that he got to see and appreciate. I hope that his cognition in his later years was enough that he realized how much the world loved his work and appreciated what he did that made our lives a bit more pleasant.
It’s kind of like something Alia and I talked about the other day–if you haven’t listened to Stevie’s “These Three Words,” do so. Stevie asks, “when was the last time they heard you say, ‘mother or father, I love you?'”
The only reason I can walk around every day is that I told Jon how much I cared about him two days before he passed away. I’m not totally sure why I felt the need to say something that day, but doing that keeps me functional.
Pryor’s passing seems a good opportunity for us to do the same with the people we care about. You never know when people won’t be able to hear the words out of your mouth, the specific mention of the importance another person plays in your life. Don’t wait on that one, man.
Don’t wait.

14 comments on “RIP Richard Pryor

  1. Ben says:

    I love you, man.

  2. Ben says:

    I love you, man.

  3. jaedalaurez says:

    Truer words never spoken…Nikki G. did a great piece about how we love artists but we don’t care about what they’re going through to get there(can’t remember the name of it, but it’s about Aretha Franklin).
    RIP Richard- ya done good. Here’s hoping a little peace makes it’s way towards you.
    “I Love You” is the most powerful sentence in the world…it makes someone’s life instantly more valuable and just that much better.
    Dudes feel like saying it makes them a simp…but not saying it when you really mean it because you are afraid it’s not manly…makes you a coward. You miss out on giving one of the greatest gifts in the world.

  4. jaedalaurez says:

    Truer words never spoken…Nikki G. did a great piece about how we love artists but we don’t care about what they’re going through to get there(can’t remember the name of it, but it’s about Aretha Franklin).
    RIP Richard- ya done good. Here’s hoping a little peace makes it’s way towards you.
    “I Love You” is the most powerful sentence in the world…it makes someone’s life instantly more valuable and just that much better.
    Dudes feel like saying it makes them a simp…but not saying it when you really mean it because you are afraid it’s not manly…makes you a coward. You miss out on giving one of the greatest gifts in the world.

  5. Rex says:

    As a kid growing up in the 70s, I worked at a theatre as a projectionist and in the concession stand. One of the benefits was that I was able to watch the movies as many times as I wanted on my nights off, or during slow times at the stand. It was a small town theatre so the door into the concession stand was actually through the seating area, so it was easy to pop my head out.
    Anyway, I must have seen “Live in Concert” and “Live on the Sunset Strip” at least two dozens times. My favorite part was where he talked about the neighbor’s dog that bit his ass every chance he had… and the one day he Rich was down in the dumps, the dog walks up to him, sits, and says, “What’s up, Rich?” After he tells the dogs his woes, the dog walks off and says, “Now, you know I’m gonna be chasin’ yo’ ass tomorrow!”
    And of course, the whole “Macho Man” routine is GOLD!
    There was NO ONE like Pryor. Eddie can thank Rich for his career.

  6. Rex says:

    As a kid growing up in the 70s, I worked at a theatre as a projectionist and in the concession stand. One of the benefits was that I was able to watch the movies as many times as I wanted on my nights off, or during slow times at the stand. It was a small town theatre so the door into the concession stand was actually through the seating area, so it was easy to pop my head out.
    Anyway, I must have seen “Live in Concert” and “Live on the Sunset Strip” at least two dozens times. My favorite part was where he talked about the neighbor’s dog that bit his ass every chance he had… and the one day he Rich was down in the dumps, the dog walks up to him, sits, and says, “What’s up, Rich?” After he tells the dogs his woes, the dog walks off and says, “Now, you know I’m gonna be chasin’ yo’ ass tomorrow!”
    And of course, the whole “Macho Man” routine is GOLD!
    There was NO ONE like Pryor. Eddie can thank Rich for his career.

  7. nikki says:

    wonderfully said, bomani

  8. nikki says:

    wonderfully said, bomani

  9. aliajsmith says:

    Sweet and simple, short and kind. One can never say them enough.

  10. aliajsmith says:

    Sweet and simple, short and kind. One can never say them enough.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    SWEET RICHARD: so wonderful, lovable and grand. Such genius and funny in one human being…thank God for him coming to grace this earth if only for 65 years.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    SWEET RICHARD: so wonderful, lovable and grand. Such genius and funny in one human being…thank God for him coming to grace this earth if only for 65 years.

  13. williethepimp says:

    that nigga lit his own ass on fire

  14. williethepimp says:

    that nigga lit his own ass on fire

Leave a Reply to aliajsmith Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *