Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Concerts, Standup Comedy  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Arguably the single most brilliant stand-up film ever mounted and shot, Richard Pryor: Live in Concert is a masterpiece of comedic invention and delivery. Those only familiar with Pryor from his uneven career as an actor in Hollywood comedies will be knocked out by the breadth of the comic's gifts on stage, as a monologuist - for instance, the fluidity with which he slips into and out of character voices, and also the balletic grace that he demonstrates as a physical comic, whether illustrating his reaction to his grandmother's "ass-beatings" or the experience of suffering from a massive coronary. The routines draw their power from the many familiar chords that Pryor strikes with his anecdotes, and the inventive spin that he places on all of them. He consistently manages to find the delirious amid the familiar, and yet, pain and fear are never far from the surface. As a result, it is impossible to think of another stand-up routine so riotously funny (there are no dead spots in its brief 78 minutes) and yet so profound. One need only wonder why in the world Pryor even bothered with feature roles - many of which were far beneath him anyway - and didn't continue to blaze a new trail as a stand-up act. As a result of that decision, this film is one of only four stand-up performance movies (only three of which were theatrically released) that the comedian did before his death at the relatively young age of 65, and that realization leaves one somewhat sad; in this case, there could never be too much of a wonderful thing.