This is Your Mind on Drugs: Richard Pryor in Full Sail, Circa 1980
Let me preface this by saying that I really loved Richard Pryor–his comic genius that took in everything from race to women. No, I wouldn’t have wanted to live with him; I just knew that he was great. I am just so sad that he’s not here with us any more, because I think he would have given everyone from Bush to Olbermann to Obama to Maher a run for their money.
Yes, he was definitely profane and he wasn’t necessarily known treating his women well, be they black, white or orange. He also famously said that most gays were too busy parading up and down Sunset Boulevard to care about his civil rights. But as Lily Tomlin, who once performed with him, once said, he told us he was crazy in the beginning.
And one of the reasons why I get pissed that he’s not here to celebrate, skewer and break down these times for us is that he literally fcked himself up on coke. It’s sad, because I think that even fcked up, he could be hilarious.
This is from NeoGriot. This interview was filmed in 1980 while Pryor was making Stir Crazy, the reunion film after his co-starring with Gene Wilder in 1976’s Silver Streak. Wilder said in his memoir, Kiss Me Like a Stranger that Pryor was indeed out of control on drugs and had merely added to his already notorious reputation for being difficult on the set while making the film. And frankly, they were only friends on celluloid.
Below is Rich on the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, when he was “straight,” lucid and fairly great to hang with. I say “straight” in quotes, because I own two biographies of Rich, and he claimed that he hadn’t really kicked coke (and alcohol) completely until much, much later. He would abuse, clean up, and then abuse again. As I remember it, he cleaned up for the last time just before the first symptoms of MS began to take over. The Carson appearance was probably after the freebasing-suicide attempt episode when he ran down the street on fire.
Damn, Richard. Did you hafta mess yourself up? You were one in a million.
- Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic (blackgirlnerdy.blogspot.com)
- ‘[Richard Pryor] was a Serial Killer Baby Maker’ – PAUL MOONEY (blackamericaweb.com)
- Richard Pryor Created Laughter From Pain (theroot.com)
- Richard Pryor, Demons And All (theawl.com)