Sad Anniversary Today of Richard Pryor’s Passing
I still remember when I heard the terrible news. Back in 2005, a large group of us traveled to Dallas, Texas for a Cowboys football game and at some point, a smaller group of us decided we were hungry, so we headed off to a TGI Friday's to grab a bite.
I'll never forget sitting there at the bar, looking up at one the flat-screens, watching one of the cable news networks and hearing the announcer declare, "Richard Pryor has died from a heart attack. He was 65."
I was simply stunned. This man who gave my family and I so much joy and laughter through the years was no longer with us. Bar none, my favorite stand-up comedian of all-time.
Nowadays, it's much more fashionable for top comedians to tackle difficult subjects in their acts, but back in the 1970s, that was not the case. Of course there was Lenny Bruce and Dick Gregory, but they did not have the exposure that Richard Pryor had.
Richard tackled the tough stuff head on. He was fierce and funny. Racism, slavery, child abuse, drug abuse. The list goes on. His comedy records were big sellers and award winners. And the movies? Yeah, he made some duds. But he also made classics like, Silver Streak, Bustin' Loose and Stir Crazy.
Offscreen and offstage, there were difficult times. But from those, he drew life-lessons and he talked about them in his comedy act. That made his material hard to listen to sometimes because he took the pain from real life and used it to bring forth laughter. That's hard to do. But that's what made him one of the best.
It's only been 14 years today since Richard Pryor's death, but to me it already feels like a lifetime. I'll always miss him.