Richard Pryor was a spearhead of righteous anger, a mad poet, and an inflammatory missile of social justice. He was a drug-addled demon, a rampaging tyrant, and a catastrophic force of destructive violence. He was a misunderstood prophet, a foulmouthed fount of extemporaneous brilliance, and a unique comic voice. He spoke the truth, and, most importantly, that dude was funny.
As Pauline Kael wrote, “Pryor shouldn’t be cast at all – he should be realized. He has desperate, mad characters coming out of his pores, and we want to see how far he can go with them.”
Pryor’s many polarizing selves – all brazenly honest, all true to life – earned him exultant praise and defamatory criticism in equal measure, both of which he came by honestly. To quote the man himself…
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