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The Death Of A Comic Genius

For people of a certain age, there was a time when you would go to the record
store, buy an album, go home, get three or four of your friends to come over,
and make sure your parents were out of earshot. And then you would listen
to Richard Pryor.

There was nothing funnier than Richard Pryor on a good roll. Whether he
was talking about the polar bear and the three-legged monkey, or driving from
Louisiana to Peoria on a tractor, on a single tank of gas, or the bridge joke,
or about burning himself while freebasing, the man was painfully, brilliantly

His life was incredibly painful at times, something his comic genius couldn't
mask. He grew up in a whorehouse; his father died while having sex with
Richard's teenage girlfriend. He had, obviously, serious drug problems at
different points in his life, and then developed MS.

Most people would have just given up, and yet Pryor didn't. He was
brutally honest, and brutally funny, and was entirely unforgettable. You
found yourself wanting to shake him sometimes to get him to stop making stupid
choices, but then he'd say something that was so hilarious, so insightful, that
you knew he already knew he was doing dumb things, and you forgave him.

American comedy is a vast tradition now, with thousands of influences and
geniuses from Gracie Allen to Andy Kaufmann. Richard Pryor could go toe to
toe with any of them. We've never heard anyone nearly as funny.

If you have never heard Pryor's comedy, do yourself a favor and find some. Be
forewarned: it's full of rough language. But it's just brilliant, and it
will stand the test of time.