Sunday Feature-Week 5: Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982)

Title: Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip

Tone: Observations on race relations from one funny motherfucker


Director-Joe Layton

Cast- Richard Pryor

When: 1982

What: Richard Pryor’s groundbreaking, crude, post-freebasing stand-up performance.


  • What better way to kick off Black History Month than kicking back and watching the greatest black comedian of all-time, if not the greatest comedian of all time, dissect racism, sex, and hypocrisy in all his profane glory.
  • Richard Pryor had the remarkable ability to turn the darkest and most painful aspects of his life into well constructed comedy. Before this performance, Pryor had overcome a serious addiction to cocaine and recuperated from a freebasing incident in which he poured high-proof rum on his body and set himself on fire. In Live on the Sunset Strip, Pryor jestingly recounts his drug addiction, the free-basing incident, and recuperation with utmost sincerity and vulgarity.
  • Like the song says, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” and Pryor’s stand-up is exactly that, facilitating discussion of race relations in modern America by softening the blow with comedy. In doing this, Pryor became one of the most important and influential entertainers in history.
  • Below is a short clip that I feel is a nice introduction to Black History Month and Pryor’s ability to discuss racial discord through his blunt, earnest, and humorous performance. Enjoy.



~ by cinematte on February 1, 2010.

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