Richard Pryor Live On The Sunset Strip

  • 1982
  • Movie
  • R
  • Comedy, Documentary

A follow-up to the enormously successful RICHARD PRYOR LIVE IN CONCERT (1979), RICHARD PRYOR LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP is a somewhat lesser but still worthwhile showcase for an entertainer for whom the word "comic" seems too limiting. The film is a record of two shows by Pryor at the Hollywood Palladium in late 1981, his first since June 1980 when he was...read more

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A follow-up to the enormously successful RICHARD PRYOR LIVE IN CONCERT (1979), RICHARD PRYOR LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP is a somewhat lesser but still worthwhile showcase for an entertainer for whom the word "comic" seems too limiting.

The film is a record of two shows by Pryor at the Hollywood Palladium in late 1981, his first since June 1980 when he was nearly burned to death. (While the incident was initially described as having been caused when Pryor struck a match near a glass of high-proof rum, here and for years

afterwards he claimed that it was an accident caused when he was "freebasing" cocaine. It wasn't until years later that Pryor admitted he had tried to commit suicide.) Pryor's description of his drug addiction leading up to the immolation is the centerpiece of the film and one of his best

performances. He gives his favorite coke pipe the voice and personality of a modern Mephistopheles, eminently reasonable as it persuades Pryor that it is his only friend, the only one who understands him. And he uses the well-publicized details of his ordeal and painful recovery as a basis for

humor, which works at least partly out of the audience's relief at seeing him alive and well again.

This segment alone makes the film worth seeing, although much of what precedes it is of variable quality. The two performances, one of which reportedly found Pryor uncomfortable and uncertain of his material, are clumsily edited together, with obvious elisions and far too many cuts to members of

the adoring audience. Pryor's evocation of African animals is adequate but seems too close to similar material in LIVE IN CONCERT. The same is true of routines about male-female relations and racism, although a high point comes with his renunciation of the word "nigger" after a visit to Africa

made him realize that the word can never be anything other than one we "use to describe our own wretchedness." And segments about the black men he met while shooting a film in prison and Mafioso he worked with as a young nightclub comic are prime Pryor. (Extreme profanity.)

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  • Released: 1982
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A follow-up to the enormously successful RICHARD PRYOR LIVE IN CONCERT (1979), RICHARD PRYOR LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP is a somewhat lesser but still worthwhile showcase for an entertainer for whom the word "comic" seems too limiting. The film is a record… (more)

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