Why Do Black Comedians Go 'Crazy'?
5 months ago
Is Hollywood driving them up the wall?
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the death of Richard Pryor, perhaps the greatest stand-up comedian who ever lived.
By the time Pryor died on Dec. 10, 2005, the man known for his profane yet profound commentary on race, relationships and the pain that life sometimes brings was virtually silent, having lost his voice to the ravages of multiple sclerosis, communicating primarily through his wife and manager.
Dying silently probably was the last thing anyone who got to see Pryor in his prime would have believed of him. In virtually every movie he starred, Pryor's scenes made you forget anybody else was even in them. His explicit comedy albums led to many of fun nights at the spades table, or whuppings for youngsters trying to sneak a listen. And his on-stage stand-up performances? Well, let's just say people are still trying to find new ways to make drug addiction and setting oneself on fire funny.
Pryor's comedic genius was one part God-given talent and verbal skill, one part suffering from an abusive childhood and one part being high as a kite to cope. Add in the extra ingredient of fame and the pressures that come with it, and you have yourself one highly combustible dish. It's an explosive combination that has seemingly marked the lives of many black comedians who have followed Pryor.