The Post Game Show

Monday, December 12, 2005

That Nig Sure Was Crazy....R.I.P. Rich

I was first introduced to the profane, profound, and downright funny wonder that was Richard Pryor in the summer of 1999. Sure I had heard of this foul-mouthed cat who inspired this generations comedy stars, but the first album my mother allowed me to listen was the double album Wanted: Live In Concert just a couple of months shy of my 18th birthday. I was doubled over in laughter for days at Rich's memories of his grandmother laying the smackdown on him with anything she could find, to his monologue of how hard it is to get a woman to her climax and hunting in the woods with then-heavyweight boxing star Leon Spinks.

I quickly collected all the Richard Pryor essentials in a box set (That Nigger's Crazy, Is It Something I said, and Bicentennial Nigger) and Richard's musings on life, racism, and dealing with women often helped me get through some tough times of my own by just simply laughing my ass off.

Richard Pryor finally lost his 19-year fight with Multiple Sclerosis Saturday by virtue of a heart attack. He had just turned 65 on December 1st. Growing up in a whore-house run by his grandmother, Rich had a lot of material to go off of, but had to dumb down for white audiences in the 60s who wanted another good-natured negro to compete with another young black comedian named Bill Cosby.

By 1974, Richard Pryor had become his own x-rated man, using coarse language and deep thoughts to make people laugh and think, and won his first Grammy for the seminal That Nigger's Crazy (album cover posted above). He also became a movie star, in hit flicks such as Car Wash, Stir Crazy, and Silver Streak

He also had his demons, letting drugs cloud his better judgement several times, including a Freebase-induced stupor that resulted in him setting himself on fire in 1980, burning over half his body. In the months following that near-death experience, Richard would show his true comedic genius, referencing the incident in a 1981 routine saying "I'm tired of being angry...I guess the fire burnt that out of me."

In the last 10 years, he was largely out of the public eye due to his illness, leading a private life up until his last breath that one of his numerous ex-wives said was peaceful.

Richard Pryor touched a lot of lives through his ability to make people laugh, think, and sometimes cry. Now heaven is a whole lot funnier now that Rich is up there. R.I.P, Jack. Life is going to be a motherf***er without you.


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