Saturday, June 03, 2006

Friday night with Richard Pryor

For once in a very long time I was at home on a Friday evening and the odd thing was that I was comfortable and I didn't feel like I was missing out on the usual Friday "fun".

The reason for this unlikely state of affiars was a chance meeting with a DVD hawker, which resulted in me purchasing Richard Pryor's (RIP) "Live from the sunset strip" video concert. The hawker couldn't imagine why somebody would be interested in something he had been carrying around for ages and he practically gave it to me for free, considering it was original (I kept wondering who he might have pilfered it from and I felt a bit guilty). Those of you who live in Kampala might understand how hard it is to get such "non-mainstream" DVDs (without parting with 10% of your salary that is).

I first encountered Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions when I was about 10 and for years his movies with Gene Wilder were some of my favourite. Later, when I discovered stand up comedy, I discovered that many of the famous stand up comedians of today and the past (Eddie Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg, Dave Chappelle etc) were inspired by Pryor.

Pryor pioneered the in-your-face, honestly vulgar brand of stand up that has become the norm for many Africa-American standup comics. Stand up that is replete with the F-word and has a no-holds-barred take on subject matter. He was the first comedian to openly use the word nigger in his routine and he got a lot of flak for that.

While watching his 1982 concert on DVD I understood why he was at one point considered the funniest man in America. His honest self denigrating style is endearing. His routine on how he set himself on fire while freebasing is so funny yet it should be a sad testament to a life of excesses and self destructive addictions.

Pryor uses the search for his roots and identity to great comic effect. He describes his trip to Africa and how it opened up his eyes. After seeing black people going about their lives as bankers, diplomats, polticians (and drunks too) in their own countries, he vowed never to call any other black person nigger.

I will be watching the DVD many times again and I plan to start scouring all the bootlegging joints for any other such gems that they might ignorantly be too eager to dispose of.

8 comments:

CountryBoyi said...

It's not the DVDs only. The novels man. If you want those classics by men in the calibre of Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde or D.H Lawrence, hit the streets. For less than 5K, you'll return home smiling.

And that google earth, I better shake myself & learn to read maps. You zoom in & out,scrutinize every geographical dot, interesting! That's why am proud to be a blogger; with each day i learn stuff & get new ideas!

savage said...

If only you can also find Chris Rock's Never scared and Dave Chapelle's Killing them softly concert DVDs,trust you will be forced to have repeat viewings, I know I do. While they were inspired by Richard Pryor, there's are kind of contemporary and they talk about issues I know about and understand because they are current.

Jay said...

I have a donloaded version of "killing me softly" on my laptop. Quite hilarious

Degstar said...

on which streets in Kla would one find the aforementioned vendors?

Lovely Amphibian said...

@Jay, man, you know what they say about starting to stay inside when everyone else is going out, DVD or not. It is the same as throwing out Sanyu FM or Hot 100 for Radio One. You know you are on your way out. nad you'll never get over the jibes, man. i have been trying to convince people around me that i am not 40 years old but with the "strange" habits i have...

@Deg, dude, its true. u can get the classics for peanuts. Ask IWAYA. those guys (IWAYA and some guy called Magoba and now Dennis)know where u can get the classics; Dostoyevsky at 5000. its in Owino, i think.

baz said...

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!

baz said...

what I meant to say is that Killing Me Softly was a work of life-changing genius. I downloaded it those days of Kazaa then lost it. Jay, can that thing be on yousendit or something? Pretty please...

Jay said...

had it broken down in segments.