Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor

The Life and Legacy of a "Crazy" Black Man
Distribution: World
Publication date: 09/17/2008
Format: Paperback 6 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-22011-0
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Richard Pryor is an American icon whose name evokes irreverent humor, social critique, and a perplexing degree of self-agonized genius. This anthology captures in one volume the spirit, zest, and cultural impact of Pryor's complex artistry. Audrey Thomas McCluskey has assembled insightful essays from a broad range of scholars, social critics, writers, filmmakers, and other established and emerging commentators on American culture. Although a celebration of Pryor's genius, the book approaches the subject with a critical sensibility that provides insight into his work to reveal how he simultaneously highlighted and embodied prominent narratives of race, gender, and social conditions in America in ways that continue to enlighten and entertain.

Author Bio

Audrey Thomas McCluskey is a professor of African American and African diaspora studies and former director of the Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University, Bloomington. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.


[Like] Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Marvin Gaye, [and] Muhammad Ali . . . Richard Pryor contributed the combination of brilliance and tragedy at the core of what it means to be a Black man in America. Like the best jazz improvisers on the bandstand, [Pryor] turned life's mundane moments into intellectual property of the highest order and made life's most difficult situations seem like the proverbial drop in the bucket.

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Richard Pryor: Comic Genius, Tortured Soul / Audrey Thomas McCluskey

Part 1. New Essays
1. "That Nigger's Crazy": Richard Pryor, Racial Performativity, Cultural Critique / Keith M. Harris
2. The Crisis of Black Masculinity in Jo Jo Dancer: Your Life Is Calling / Margo Natalie Crawford
3. Was It Something He Said? Censorship and the Richard Pryor Television Show, 1977 / Audrey Thomas McCluskey
4. Richard Pryor and the Poetics of Cursing / Kate E. Brown
5. Br'er Richard: Fascinatin' Storyteller / Maxine A. LeGall
6. "... And It's Deep Too": The Philosophical Comedy of Richard Pryor / Malik D. McCluskey
7. When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Pryor, Chappelle, and the Comedic Politics of the Post-Soul / Tyrone R. Simpson

Part 2. Biography
8. Jump Street!
From Richard Pryor: The Man behind the Laughter (1981) / Joseph Nazel
9. The Politics of Being Black
From If I Stop I'll Die: The Comedy and Tragedy of Richard Pryor (1991) / John A. Williams and Dennis A. Williams
10. "He Wasn't Afraid to Get Naked in Front of People": Michael Schultz Remembers Richard Pryor / Audrey Thomas McCluskey

Part 3. Reviews
11. Time Warp Movies: A Review of Superman III (1985) / Pauline Kael
12. Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip (1994) / Pauline Kael
13. Richard Pryor: The Real Slim Shady (2001) / Rob Sheffield

Part 4. Social and Cultural Criticism
14. The New Comic Style of Richard Pryor (1975) / James Alan McPherson
15. Jive Times: Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, and the Theatre of the Routine (1974) / David Felton
16. Richard and Me (1994) / Nelson George
17. Hill Street Bullshit, Richard Pryor Routines, and the Real Deal (1997) / Bob Avakian
18. Now's the Time: The Richard Pryor Phenomenon and the Triumph of Black Culture (1998) / Siva Vaidhyanathan
19. A Pryor Love: The Life and Times of America's Comic Prophet of Race (1999) / Hilto

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