Got The Fever

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Richard Pryor

The last few weeks have seen a terrible rash of psychological and emotional meteors hitting my psyche at bombastic speed and with hyper-explosive repercussions.

What with the ‘hanging on much too long’ death of a loved one, a way overdue showdown/break-up of heroically epic proportions, a monumental birthday number come and gone without fanfare and a job environment that has gone from stable and employee friendly to listening to everyone who hasn’t already left in a frenzy consistently whispering about how the place just plain … well, is not so desirable anymore.

A cure! Someone a cure! Or, at least a salve that can temper the radiating heartbreaking burns. Save that, how about temporary refuge from the barbed wire of current reality?

Better yet – serve me up a heaping helping of Richard Pryor!

Few can make me laugh involuntarily, and as hard, as can Richard Pryor. He was just so openly honest in his assessments of human nature that one could not help but laugh. And it was his varied material that kept him popular and inspired countless others.

A big plus, for me, was that although he swore and cussed, he never made it a central point of his show. That is, you don’t know him mainly for his swearing and raunchy act. Unlike dozens who tried to build a stage show or reputation as toilet-mouthed comedians (and never stayed long in the spotlight) – Rudy Ray Moore, Red Fox, Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay or even Eddie Murphy are the quick ones that come to mind, he transcended that genre. Despite his language, it always had the comfortable feel of being in context of his material.

I can’t tell you how often I dug on Richard! I remember bring him on camping trips, to weekend getaways, listening in the dorms, playing his platters at parties (what other spoken word artist can you put on at a party and NOT have people groan?) and ever present in my car.

To this day, I have certain friends who will still quote R.P. in conversation. That’s how often we listened to this cat. This still never fails to bring a chuckle to the banter, and even more so when we go through the monologue for an uninitiated plebian. Hilarious.

Black Funerals
It is so blatantly true concerning the black experience during death. The absolute wailing of your Aunt, the brutality of honesty about the weather – especially in winter, the overflow of food from everyone in creation from the neighborhood … Richard is right on about this in every way! He has a great story about how his Dad of 57 died while having sex with an eighteen year old!

“Nobody cried at his funeral. they said ‘Lucky mutherfucker!”

Being Sensitive
Pryor at some of his best! Exploring and talking about how men and women differ in bed – man getting his and the woman sometimes left a little wanting.

“And I just found out something like a few years ago man that blew my mind, I just found out sometimes women don’t have orgasms! That fucked me up! Cause I thought I was doing some serious fuckin’!”

Have Your Ass Home By 11:00
This is most likely my favorite short monologue by Pryor. Back in the 50’s he’s telling us men never got anything off the girls till ‘after 11:00’ – which is the time his father told him to be home by.

“The clock motherfucker! What’s the clock say?”

Chinese Food
With Pryor, there’s always his ability to take everyday, bland events and turn it into a howl. Isn’t that one sign of a great comedian?

"I got one friend, he always orders biscuits. You got any biscuits back in there motherfucker?”

Enjoy and rediscover the genius of Richard Pryor and you too can get out of your nasty mood – even for a few hours!

Richard Pryor: Black Funerals (45)
Richard Pryor: Being Sensitive (47)
Richard Pryor: Have Your Ass Home By 11:00 (37)
Richard Pryor: Chinese Food (37)
From: ...And It's Deep, Too!- The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992)

Addendum: Let me (re)introduce you to a few online pleasures that have helped me along lately:

Soul-Sides has a great Hip-Hop cover that should remind you of something. Also, check out their V2 offering.

Echoes In The Wind continues to put out some little known tunes on a frequent basis. And get the Chi Coltrane album while you can – I am really grateful for that one!

If you haven’t heard of PostSecret, get there. Amazing collection of anonymous secrets that the site has parlayed into a few books and now they tour around sharing.

There are a lot more that I read on a frequent basis – they are my online rock. But, these provide great distractions!


  • Greetings!
    That was a well-written post this morning. And I'm right on board when it comes to Pryor.
    He always seemed so lovable and honest to me. And his swearing was never forced or used for shock value (you get the "cheap"laugh) But always in context.
    I had never heard the 'Chinese ..." thanks for the offering.
    And, to be sure, your writing is very strong!

    By Blogger Casey, at 4:59 PM  

  • Glad I could turn you on to something new in the Pryor catalog Casey. Thanks for the kind words also.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 3:03 PM  

  • Ah, Richard Pryor. Excellent choice in "11:00." I remember it well.

    By Anonymous Jeff, at 9:53 PM  

  • Thanks jeff - I remember sitting around with my friends, after we had our fill of .... whatever, and laughing our asses off at that one.

    It all in the presentation, right? Like the line I mentioned, or "You on your period again? You gonna bleed to death bitch!", or "You CAN tell time can't you?"

    Everytime I hear those lines I laugh out loud - even alone.

    Hope you enjoy your time here.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 9:58 AM  

  • Great stuff by an under-rated genius. He's sadly forgotten these days. And thanks for the props!

    By Blogger whiteray, at 10:43 PM  

  • This stuff is a fine reminder of a late friend of mine who frequently sprinkled his conversation with Pryor's lines, and who turned me on to some of Pryor's classic 70s albums, including "Bicentennial Nigger" and "That Nigger's Crazy."

    (Imagine anybody with a remotely high profile coming out with those titles today.)

    By Anonymous jb, at 11:50 AM  

  • Kev: I'm know I'm getting in late on the Richard Pryor discussion but I just wanted to give you props for the post and bringing back fond memories from my high school and college years. In addition to having several RP albums I was fortunate enough to catch him live a few times during his career. AAMOF if we heard Richard was on the bill we just went down and bought tickets to the show, it did not matter who else was on the bill!

    Like you and your friends my crew and I in college would frequently drop "Pryorisms" into our conversation back then. One of my fondest memories of the first week of my freshman year was when we squeezed about 15-20 people into my dorm room (and you know how small THOSE things were) to listen to the "Was It Something I Said" album, as I was the first person on campus to get a copy. Priceless memories came flooding back to me about those times all because of this post. "Thanks, man!"

    By Anonymous tgrundy, at 12:49 PM  

  • I want to thank the few who left a message when 'getting inlate to the discussion' - I am sorry my friends, but I have to admit to working WAY too many hours and not being able to even see my own blog on at least an every-other-day-basis!

    I cna't thank you enough for taking your time to leave a message - I know forsthand how tight time management is.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 7:17 PM  

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