Richard Pryor

Nationally Syndicated Radio & TV Personality Tom Joyner Remembers Legendary Comedian Richard Pryor


Pryor 'Influenced Nearly Every Major Comic Working Today.'

Richard Pryor didn't tell jokes. He became them.

Sometimes, the effect was pure hilarity, like the time he jumped off the stage in the middle of his Vegas act, took off his clothes, walked into the casino and hopped on a table yelling "Blackjack!"

Most of the time -- and even in that casino joke, if you think about it -- Pryor's comedy came wrapped in barbed wire, write Senior Writer Marc Peyser and National Correspondent Allison Samuels in the December 19 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, December 12).

After he nearly burned himself to death in a fire started by a crack pipe, he created a bit where he played the crack pipe, which taunted him on the joy of getting high. And then there was his indelible cast of characters: junkies, hustlers, winos.

They were angry, proud, insecure, profane -- people no one found funny before. But Pryor mined their stories for truth as well as humor, and he told their stories with a streetwise vernacular that verged on poetic performance art.

"His very presence gave black people a chance to laugh and feel good about stuff that usually pissed us off," says Chris Rock.

Nowadays, no one would flinch at Pryor's in-your-face humor. But our comfort level with that black-and-blue material comes from the fact that Pryor influenced nearly every major comic working today. You can draw a straight line from his angry, impolite comedy to Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, the Wayans brothers and Dave Chappelle, in addition to Robin Williams, Sam Kinison and John Leguizamo, write Peyser and Samuels.

"It sounds cliche to say that he opened the doors for all of us, but it's true," says Martin Lawrence. "He did for comedy what politicians do for movements. He passed a law that said it was OK to tell it like it is."

He was, in short, the personification of the idea that tragedy feeds great comedy. Pryor was married seven times and struggled for much of his life with drug addiction, even as he made his way up the stand-up circuit and as a writer for venues as different as "Sanford and Son," "The Carol Burnett Show" and the screenplay for "Blazing Saddles."

He starred in 40-some movies and, along with Gene Wilder, became half of Hollywood's first successful interracial comedy act. Pryor appreciated his successes, but like his bombastic characters, he also had a charming humility. "I had some great things and I had some bad things, the best and the worst," Pryor once said. "In other words, I had a life."

(Read the article at

Source: Newsweek
Richard Pryor "Jo Jo Dancer"

Nationally Syndicated Radio & TV Personality Tom Joyner Remembers Legendary Comedian Richard Pryor

Tom Joyner, the nationally syndicated radio and TV personality, devoted segments of his radio show to remember Richard Pryor and today issued the statement below.

"Now that he's passed on a lot of people will start reflecting on his comedy, but I don't think most black people ever stopped. Richard Pryor's comedy represented a measure of freedom for black people because he talked about things black people rarely talked about in mixed company. It's one thing to joke about white people and black/white relationships in an all black setting, it's another thing to do it in a mixed audience or on national TV. After he did it, all black comedians started doing it.

"I think most people know where they were when they heard their first Richard Pryor album. If you were underage, you probably had a cool uncle or older sibling that let you listen if you promised not to tell your parents.

"His comedy, his phrases, and his punch lines are a part of Black American life. A lot of people quote things Richard Pryor has said and don't even realize where it came from like "What kind of name is that for an N Word?" Or "What's wrong with your natural?"

Everybody black or white could relate to his stories and the characters he portrayed. By pointing out our differences, he actually pointed out a lot of our similarities and I guess that was the genius of his comedy.

"Even though I knew the day was coming, as it is when anyone you love dies, you're never ready for it when it actually happens. It caught me off guard and I had to figure out the right time to announce it as I hosted an audience of 10,000 at a Christmas concert in Detroit.

"Richard Pryor's death reminds me of how important it is to support the entertainers we really love. So many people will regret never having had a chance to see him perform live. I won't have that regret. I saw Ali box, I saw Luther Vandross and the Queen of Soul perform live and I saw Richard Pryor do his thing at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. And just like everyone else there; I memorized everything he said and repeated it back to the first person I saw."

To listen to highlights of the show and read more about Pryor, go to (

DALLAS, Dec. 12, 2005 /PRNewswire/ --

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Statement Regarding the Passing of Richard Pryor, December 10, 2005,

From the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Richard Pryor "Brewster's Millions"

On behalf of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, we want to express our sincere condolences to the Pryor family.

We are all saddened by this loss as Mr. Pryor will be remembered as a ground-breaking comedian and world-class talent.

"Mr. Pryor struggled with the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis for many years and he will be remembered for his courage and dignity," said Joyce Nelson, President and CEO of the National MS Society.

"The Society was honored to work directly with Richard Pryor and is pleased to currently have his daughter Rain as an ambassador for the MS cause."

About Multiple Sclerosis
Every hour in the United States, someone new receives that frightening diagnosis: multiple sclerosis. MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are giving hope to those affected by the disease. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men contracting the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S., and 2.5 million worldwide.

About The National MS Society
The mission of the National MS Society is to end the devastating effects of MS. Through its home office and 50-state network of chapters, the Society funds more MS research, offers more services to people with MS, provides more professional education, and advances more MS advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world. This is why we're here.

Studies show that early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can reduce future disease activity and improve quality of life for many people with multiple sclerosis. Talk to your health care professional and contact the National MS Society at or 1-800-FIGHT-MS to learn about ways to help manage multiple sclerosis and about current research that may one day reveal a cure.

Source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Publicity Photos:
Above: Richard Pryor in "Brewster's Millions."
Above Left: Warner Bros. publicity photo
Left: Pryor in "Jo Jo Dancer"