This is a video I have seen on the shelfs alot but I never got around to renting it on account of it is only 45 minutes. And who the fuck wants to pay 3.50 or what not for 45 minutes of standup when you could just watch scrambled Def Jam Comedy Jam for free.
But now I finally saw it and it was interesting but hell boys I gotta warn you, this is for Richard Pryor experts only. It is not a good introduction to his works, in my opinion. I don’t want you to watch this one first unless you promise me right here and now that you will watch Richard Pryor Live in Concert and Live On Sunset Strip even if you don’t like this one too much.
According to his autobiography this was his first concert film, originally titled just Smokin’ and filmed at the Improv in New York in April 1971. It was at a time when he was really considered to be breaking new ground. For a long time in his career he was just imitating Bill Cosby but then he decided to start talking about the type of shit he really thought about after growing up in a whorehouse in Peoria, Illinois.
But when you know how good Richard got later, this one seems pretty crude. For the first half he seems real nervous and his timing seems just a little off. He keeps mentioning the camera but not in any way that’s funny, it just makes him seem nervouser. In one part he laughs a little bit in the middle of a character and tries to make it into a joke but it’s kind of awkward.
And one thing that’s weird is these white people aren’t laughing very much. If you’ve seen his other films you’re used to this motherfucker strutting into a huge theater where he’s treated like a comedy god. Here he’s just some black dude saying “nigger” a lot while they try to eat.
(Later he went to Africa and denounced the n-word but this was before he could afford that type of travel. Remember back then comedians didn’t get paid for performing at clubs.)
Anyway that is not to say if you like Pryor you shouldn’t watch this. There is some good characters on there. But the jokes and the polish just isn’t there if you’re wanting the full Richard Pryor one two punch. Sorry.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.