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Is that Fine Enough for Your Ass?
2005-12-11 08:15
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

With little to nothing cooking with the Yanks this weekend, please indulge me in remembering Richard Pryor. (And if you aren't interested, that's cool, check back tomorrow.)

"I've been trying to figure out the analogies to what Richard Pryor meant, and the closest I can come to is Miles Davis," said Reginald Hudlin, the film and TV director and president of entertainment for Black Entertainment Television. "There's music before Miles Davis, and there's music after Miles Davis. And Richard Pryor is that same kind of person.

"Every new piece kind of transformed the game," Hudlin said. "He was a culturally transcendent hero. His influence is bigger than black comedy; it's bigger than comedy. He was a cultural giant."
(L.A. Times)

Kudos to Mel Watkins at the New York Times for a fine obituary on Richard Pryor today.

Here are some of the highlights:

"Comedy," [Pryor] said, "is when you are driving along and see a couple of dudes and one is in trouble with the others and he's trying to talk his way out of it. You say, 'Oh boy, they got him,' and you laugh. I cannot tell jokes. My comedy is not comedy as society has defined it."

On his mid-career change of direction:

"I made a lot of money being Bill Cosby," he recalled, "but I was hiding my personality. I just wanted to be in show business so bad I didn't care how. It started bothering me - I was being a robot comic, repeating the same lines, getting the same laughs for the same jokes. The repetition was killing me."

..."There was a world of junkies and winos, pool hustlers and prostitutes, women and family screaming inside my head, trying to be heard. The longer I kept them bottled up, the harder they tried to escape. The pressure built till I went nuts."

I like Watkins' take on Pryor's masterpiece:

Mr. Pryor probably reached the pinnacle of his career in 1979 with his first concert film, "Richard Pryor, Live in Concert," a movie, filmed during an appearance in Long Beach, Calif., that more than a quarter of a century later remains the standard by which other movies of live comedy performances are judged.

The film, which was to inspire others to make their own comic performance movies, caught Mr. Pryor at peak form. He reflected often about his own tumultuous life, with monologues about a domestic quarrel in which he shot his wife's car, the death of his pet monkeys and a near-fatal heart attack, which ended with: "I woke up in the ambulance, right? And there was nothin' but white people starin' at me. I say . . . I done died and wound up in the wrong heaven. Now I gotta listen to Lawrence Welk the rest of my days."

I'm sure we'll see a bunch of Pryor's movies, and hopefully, "Live in Concert" pop up on cable in the coming weeks and months.

Comments
2005-12-11 09:03:25
1.   YanksFan
I don't recall seeing a mention of Blazing Saddles in the NYT obit (I skimmed, admittedly). Pryor did not appear, but I've always wondered exactly who contributed what to the script, and what that process must have been like (he is credited as one of several writers).

Gene Wilder's fine memoir, "Kiss Me Like a Stranger" offers some interesting insight into Pryor--not all of it flattering.

2005-12-11 09:08:25
2.   deadguy
I recall seeing one description to the effect that Pryor did a lot of the Mongo stuff.
2005-12-11 14:24:26
3.   Alex Belth
Pryor was one of the script writers for "Blazing Saddles" and Mel Brooks wanted to cast him in the lead. The movie was originially titled "Black Bart." But the studio wanted the more mild-mannered Clevon Little, who did a terrific deadpan job of it. It is tempting to think what Pryor would have done in the role. He would have definitely made it a more raucous, even dangerous movie, that's for sure. Brooks and Pryor at the top of their games together? Look out.
2005-12-11 16:27:29
4.   singledd
No disrespect for Richard... but hope I can mention something about the Yankees...

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/sports/baseball/11score.html

If this article is accurate, then ManOfCash has done a GREAT job not jumping on any of the 'marginal' CF's gracing the market this year. If would seem that their improvement over Bubba would have had marginal impact, and a possible negative impact in considering what we may have given up.

It has not been an exciting off-season, but a good one. We have been smart, and have saved our scheckles (sp) for a better day (sometime around July 2006 I woud guess).

Soriano has been taking it on the chin this off-season. I guess I'm not too bright, cause I still think he's an asset, although probably overpriced now. I'm sure he will be available by mid-year 2006.

Hasn't been much talk here about the ONLY Yankee WILLING to move to CF.... a Mr. Cano.
Any opinions on this (Jete's in CF ain't happening).

2005-12-12 10:08:42
5.   claybeez
I remember when I was probably about 12 or so, finding and playing the album "Live in Concert," while my mother was out of the house. I don't know that I'd ever laughed so much, nor so loudly. There followed a long period in which I had that album in my hands not two seconds after my mother stepped outside. He was the funniest comedian I ever heard.
2005-12-12 10:34:56
6.   walein
Richard Prior is in the pantheon and there are millions of jokes about him to tell. I rememebr the first time I watched him, I was very young, parents weren't around, and probably a high-school baby-sitter was allowing me to see something I wasn't suppossed to. All I remember was him talking about his monkey and how it would run out of the cage, up his arm and have sex with his ear.
I've laughed that hard probably 6 times in my life. I didn't understand how good the rest of his jokes were a that time but he got me hooked even at that young age.

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