Saturday, December 10, 2005

A Great Comic Genius Passes Away

Richard Pryor, the great stand-up comedian and actor, died earlier today from a heart attack. He was 65 years old.

For someone of my age, it's kind of hard to really understand the impact Richard Pryor had on comedy. However, it might best be said by noting that virtually every African-American comedian working today owes a large debt to Richard Pryor. Everyone from Eddie Murphy to Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle was influenced by this man and used the taboos he broke in order to make themselves known. He made it okay for black comedians to say whatever they wanted in order to make people laugh whether it was a curse word or the infamous "N-word." His variety show (which my sister and I got my mom for her birthday) broke TV boundaries and caused controversy long before In Living Color and Chappelle's Show. One of my favorite comedies is Blazing Saddles, which Pryor co-wrote with Mel Brooks. When it came to addressing racial inequality through humor, few people could do it as well as Pryor.

Anyone who loves comedy, no matter the race, should be mourning the death of this comic genius. Rest in peace, Richard.

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