RICHARD PRYOR LIVE IN CONCERT is exactly what it sounds like, a film of the comic performing in front of a live audience (in Long Beach, CA). It was an unusual thing to do in 1979; it was equally unusual at the time, before cable TV and home video revolutionized the entertainment market,
to see someone like Pryor in an unsanitized state, freed from the bounds of network censors. Time and a multitude of imitators have taken much of the shock and sting out of Pryor's once-outrageous performance, but his other skills can still be appreciated in this showcase.
Despite his wild legend, Pryor's stand-up act as preserved here is a model of professionalism. He is fresh and spontaneous without seeming to be improvising. His sexually oriented material is surprisingly explicit, but well-observed rather than gratuitous. And while Pryor's use of profanity isn't
as shocking as it once was, it is surprising to hear how much audiences of the time reacted to that element alone. (This is the primary way in which the performance has dated.)
Had the term "performance art" been in vogue at the time, it would certainly have applied to Pryor. The best parts of his act show him to be a gifted mimic, both verbally and physically. Talking about his pets, he impersonates a variety of animals (dogs, a spider money, a frightened deer), giving
each a distinctive personality without belaboring them. He also draws on his own life (though not as much as he would in other performances): his upbringing by his strict but loving grandmother, who would send him out to get a switch with which she could beat him when he misbehaved; his father,
who had his own forms of punishment ("Go stand in the middle of the street while I start the car"); and a highly publicized marital spat in which he was taken away by the police for, as he puts it, "killing my car." Some of the best material comes near the end, as he plays one of his young
children trying to tell a lie, and discusses macho men confronted with women they have not sexually satisfied.
Independently distributed, RICHARD PRYOR LIVE IN CONCERT was so successful that it was followed by RICHARD PRYOR LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP (1982) and RICHARD PRYOR HERE AND NOW (1983). (Extreme profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1979
- Rating: NR
- Review: RICHARD PRYOR LIVE IN CONCERT is exactly what it sounds like, a film of the comic performing in front of a live audience (in Long Beach, CA). It was an unusual thing to do in 1979; it was equally unusual at the time, before cable TV and home video revoluti… (more)