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Richard Pryor


Richard Pryor somehow managed to bring comedy to new highs and lows simultaneously. Like Lenny Bruce, he spoke of important social topics with a potty mouth. Like Redd Foxx, he didn't shy away from the more ribald aspects of African-American life. But unlike so many post-Eddie Murphy hacks, Pryor's work was passionate, political, personal, and painful. He owned comedy in the 1970s with a series of movies and extremely influential Stand-Up records, but serious drug problems had him literally bursting into flames by 1980. Pryor survived, but he became more of a nuanced storyteller than comic after that. The early 1980s saw him become more mainstream than ever, but Pryor was unable to enjoy his popular peak (circa The Toy) for long. Advanced multiple sclerosis made this uncontainable genius lose control of his motor functions and speech. As painful as it's been to see Pryor's health decline, his old routines still sparkle with brilliance. Revisit them and find how American injustice can still be fought with laughter.
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