Imagine three junior-high aged boys — all of the extremely white, suburban variety — locked in one of their bedrooms, conspiratorially huddled around … a record player.

We — Uncle Crappy, Juan and Carolina Boy — had come across a copy of Richard Pryor’s Wanted. None of us were certain that our mothers would approve, so this was one of those things that we held as a secret from the parents.

And we listened over and over and over. We came to know Pryor as Rich. Carolina Boy had the entire double album memorized, and Juan and I were close behind:

“Jim Brown say, ‘Anything outside the facemask belong to you. Anything inside the facemask belong to me.'” His dogs. Shooting the car.

Subversive. Profane — at least we imagined that would be the take of our mothers. Endlessly, screamingly funny. We were young, teenaged boys, each with a typically rebellious nature, and we listened over and over and over.

I also remember seeing the Sunset Strip concert film with my mom and dad a few years later. Rich was a little more thoughtful, after the suicide attempt and the trip to Africa that convinced him to strike the n-word from his routines — and his everyday vocabulary — forever. But he wasn’t any less funny. And I was happy to learn that my folks laughed as hard as I did at every “motherfucker” in the film.

There are other comedians I discovered before Rich. Dr. History and I found a bunch of old Cosby standup albums, and their stories about VW Beetles and the invention of basketball. Steve Martin: “How many times have I taken the Lord’s name in vain? A million six? Jesus Chri…” Robin Williams and the William Morris Child Care Center.

Originals all. But none more so than Richard Pryor.

2 Replies to “rich.”

  1. Rich is wherever snort-addled ass-jockeys go when they die. Something some of us may face sooner or later. All I can think of is Rich talking to the Doberman ’bout the dead monkey. Last thing the doberman says is “You know I’m gonna be chasin you again tommorow.” Carolina Boy and I struck up our friendship over that record. (wish I’d never heard of Richard Pryor) And Rich still makes me laugh. Thanks Uncle for the commentary. “That boy make a n****r laugh at a funeral on Sunday Christmas Day.” God Bless and God Speed. Hope they’ve got free septums and mucuos membranes wherever he is….


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