I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip

This is Richard’s standup film from 1985 and like you damn well oughta expect from Richard, it’s some funny shit. It is interesting to contrast this one with his 1979 Live in Concert because Richard has gone from being a genius to being a superstar. The opening credits play this ’80s style funk and show giant billboards advertising the show. Then a spotlight comes on in the back of the theater and Richard struts his way through the audience, and you see this cockiness on his face that is almost like a different person. Everybody loves Richard when he’s on stage being funny but this is something else altogether as you feel the outpouring of love from the audience and you see how it gives him strength.

Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset StripAlot of the shit Richard talks about he wouldn’t have known before he was a superstar. He mentions groupies, a trip to Africa (and how’s he gonna do that before he was rich?), filming a movie. But he doesn’t ever come off as a sellout, he’s letting you in on his life, exposing his flaws, making it all something you can relate to. He also talks about some of his early days, like when he was 19 working at a club run by the mafia. There is a story he tells about trying to get money from the mafia that is a scene in his autobiographical movie he directed Jojo Dancer Your Life is Calling, and I had no idea it was something that really happened to him but I guess it must be.

This picture has special meaning to me because Richard talks alot about the penitentiary and his experiences filming Stir Crazy. But the best part is near the end when he goes into stories about his addiction, catching on fire, how he was so addicted that his dealers would worry about him and refuse to sell to him, “nah, you’re killin yourself.” He tells a story where he accurately portrays three characters: a high Richard Pryor, Jim Brown doing an intervention, and a pipe trying to convince Richard not to listen to Jim. I think Richard is always best when he’s playing animals or inanimate objects and this is a good one.

I know what your thinkin, who the fuck wants to watch a movie of just a standup act. I know I know comedy ain’t all that cool these days but that’s because most of these jackasses couldn’t comedy their way out of a clearly labeled exit door. But Richard is another story and believe me if the movie you’re looking to rent is checked out maybe you could give this one a chance and you will be pleased. Anyway it’s not like turning on comedy central or something, number one it’s actually funny and number two it’s kind of a time capsule, it’s on film and Richard is up there in a bright red suit, and the lights are all floating around like glowing red orbs and they cut to dudes in the audience with mini afros and what not, I mean it is more interesting than what you get now days.

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.
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2000 at 10:46 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Documentary, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip”

  1. There was a documentary on Showtime last night, RICHARD PRYOR: OMIT THE LOGIC (great fucking title, btw). It had all the stories I knew about. One I didn’t know is that the first night of filming this was a disaster. Richard was not feeling it, and for awhile just stared blank and didn’t do very well when it came to explaining what was going on. He eventually left, and when he returned for the 2nd show he brought it as the film shows.

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