Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)

“You ever notice how nice white people get when there’s a bunch o’ niggers around?”

Synopsis:
Richard Pryor discusses oversexed monkeys, nonchalant nurses, peeing in the woods, and boxing with Muhammad Ali.

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Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, to watch this live concert film is to see “a comic genius at work.” Pryor is uninhibited and raunchy, yet manages to reveal deep-seated “pain, fear, anger, and concern for his race”. Pryor’s routines weren’t always funny (I’m thinking in particular of Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin’, a 1985 film release of a 1971 performance which should never have seen the light of day), so this uniformly brilliant snapshot of his career shouldn’t be taken for granted. Watch and enjoy.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Pryor’s inimitable physical humor on stage
  • Pryor describing how he got arrested for shooting his own car
  • Pryor describing nurses’ nonchalance while collecting pee from their patients
  • Pryor reminiscing about beatings from his grandmother

Must See?
Yes. This is one of the few “must see” stand-up performances on film.

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One Response to “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)”

  1. First viewing. A must.

    [See my post on ‘Bill Cosby: Himself’.]

    I still don’t consider this “film”. But I think it packs more wallop than Cosby. And Pryor (at least here) reveals himself as a dynamic performer – making this more like theater than a collection of good comic material. Stand-up goes to a higher level here, refreshingly breaking taboos. (Eddie Murphy – quite an admirer of Pryor – would continue pushing the envelope in his routines in ‘Delirious’, in which he also roasts Cosby for the comic’s disapproval of profanity.)

    Pryor clearly understands the impact of ‘the build’. I found myself merely chuckling early on but, gaining momentum, Pryor soon had me swept up along with him. I don’t recall, for example, ever having a heart attack described to me so effectively (funny and scary simultaneously). Pryor is also cavalier in his dissection of the male ego (esp. when it comes to sex).

    By the last third, Pryor could easily have you in the palm of his hand. If the profanity is rather frequent, off-handedly so, you almost don’t notice since Pryor is such an engaging performer.

    Fave bits: the few times Pryor bursts into his ‘Macho Man’ theme song, changing the lyrics each time.

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