What's So Special About 'The Richard Pryor Special'?

showbusinessThere's a famous story about The Richard Pryor Show — as Richard Pryor's star was rising in Hollywood in the 1970s, NBC commissioned the man to make a 10-episode sketch program to be broadcast in prime time. Family-friendly viewing not being Pryor's first priority, he clashed with the censors again and again until finally they let him off with only four episodes. These four episodes are still credited with an enormous influence over the genre of TV sketch comedy — directly cited by future blockbusters such as In Living Color and Chapelle's Show — and launching the careers of several performers, including the late Robin Williams in one of his first-ever roles.

But in all the fuss people make about Pryor's show, no one ever talks about the 45-minute special Pryor produced for NBC as a pilot for his series. Everything unique that the show did was done better and more concisely in The Richard Pryor Special?, broadcast in May 1977. It says all you need to know about Pryor that this special features a heartbreaking monologue written and performed by Maya Angelou and it still gets overshadowed by his other work.

The Richard Pryor Special? deserves a more prominent place in the hearts and minds of fans of the man generally regarded as the greatest standup comedian of all time. Let's look at all of the reasons why. READ MORE