My Favorite Joke: Richard Pryor

It's Pryor, so... Not Safe For Work, but... Safe For Fun! 

Sam Wellerby Sam Weller


So bookmark em' and come back later, ya hear?


If you haven't been reading Sax Carr's Useful Tools series on this channel you are missing out. The man is already a font of knowledge about standup (being funny himself) but reading his most recent column jarred a little memory loose about Richard Pryor for me, namely, watching his special Live on the Sunset Strip with my dad, who was alive at just the right time to see him perform.


Here's Pryor's take on women's ability to shut down their emotions…



I've written about my father the soccer coach in previous articles, but this was a rare time when I really felt like my father and me were "hanging out", "shooting the breeze", or even "speaking to each other". It was pretty awesome.


My dad had actually watched Pryor's special many times before and, like me, took great pleasure in laughing and often repeating slightly the punchline to each and every joke, as if saying it out loud provided some kind of sense memory, making it funnier just a little bit longer. My dad admired Pryor's innovation, and above all, his honesty.


Though the life of a middle-class white family in St. Louis couldn't relate entirely to all the subject matter in Pryor's set, what we could relate to was his humanity. What made Pryor funny was his unabashed honesty, even growing tender in his famous dispelling of the N word from his vocabulary, recounting a trip that he took to Africa…



To laugh at the same jokes together and give my dad an excuse to recount tales of his youth to me was a nice way to spend the evening together. Great art brings people together, especially if it's funny. And if it weren't for YouTube's limited playlist on the matter I would share much, much more.


And while I don't think I have pinpointed a FAVORITE joke out of this set, I will always remember the button to the whole evening. On June 9th 1980, Pryor lit himself on fire in an accident involving alchohol and freebasing (at least according to the Wiki) and proceeded to run down the street, on fire, until EMTs arrived to help him. Proving that ANYTHING CAN BE FUNNY, Pryor left the audience that night with this zinger.



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