Richard Pryor

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Pryor in February 1986

Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor (December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005) was an American comedian, actor, film director, social critic, satirist, and writer. He made trenchant observations with a storytelling approach.


  • I expected Dracula to come jumping out any second. If he did I'd have held up a cross, cause he's allergic to bullshit.
    • At the end of track 9 "Religion" on his 1971 comedy album [Craps (After Hours)
  • Let me tell you what really happened... Every night before I go to bed, I have milk and cookies. One night I mixed some low-fat milk and some pasteurized, then I dipped my cookie in and the shit blew up.
    • At the start of a routine about his freebasing accident. Live At The Sunset Strip (1982) [album and movie]
  • Why me? Ten million motherfuckers freebasing, and I'm the one who blows up!
    • Live at the Sunset Strip (1982)
  • I went through every phone book in Africa, and I didn't find one god damned Pryor!
    • On trying to find his roots. Live At The Sunset Strip (1982)
  • I went to penitentiary one time, not me personally, but me and Gene went there for a movie. "Arizona State Penitentiary" Population: 80 percent black people. But there are no black people in Arizona, they have to bus motherfuckers in!
    • On prison. Live At the Sunset Strip (1982)
  • When that fire hit your ass, it will sober your ass up quick! I saw something, I went, "Well, that's a pretty blue. You know what? That looks like... FIRE! Fire is inspirational. They should use it in the Olympics, because I ran the 100 in 4.3.
    • On setting himself on fire. Live At the Sunset Strip (1982)
  • When I was in Africa, this voice came to me and said, "Richard, what do you see?" I said, I see all types of people." The voice said, "But do you see any niggers?" I said, "No." It said, "Do you know why? 'Cause there aren't any."
    • On race. Live at the Sunset Strip (1982)
  • There are only two pieces of pussy you're gonna get in your entire life, that's your first and your last.
    • On sex. Live at the Sunset Strip (1982)
  • I don't want to go through life as a Wonder Wheel murderer!
    • The Toy (1982)
  • Have you ever noticed how quiet you get when you go in the woods? It's almost like you know that God's there.
  • I'd like to die like my father died... My father died fucking. My father was 57 when he died. The woman was 18. My father came and went at the same time.
  • You gotta be cool when you're macho man, cuz you can't be sensitive and care about someone having a good time in bed, cuz that's too scary... When you don't use sensitivity when you're having sex, or share some of your soul, nothing gonna happen, because men really get afraid. Men really get scared in bed.
  • They were brought out of Africa and into chains in America. Or they were born into slavery here. Yes, I am talking about the first African-Americans to reach these shores, but I am also describing the animals now enslaved in circuses. The species and continents are different, but the stories are tragically similar. The animals in circuses are held against their will by chains and domination. They are forced to perform a series of acts by coercion and violence because they would never normally do these things on their own. They can never choose their own partners, their own homes, their own food or have control over any aspect of their lives. I don't care how this is dressed up by promoters with music and lights, it is still slavery.
    • Wrote in November 2005, criticizing a black-owned circus; as quoted in "Pryor Fought Animal Abuse" by Lisa Lange, Albuquerque Journal (15 December 2005)
  • Make sure the check you write to a charity doesn't pay for cruel experiments on animals. Your donation should help end suffering — not cause it.
    • Criticizing charities like the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (Pryor suffered from multiple sclerosis) for their animal studies; as quoted in "Pryor Fought Animal Abuse" by Lisa Lange, in Albuquerque Journal (15 December 2005)


  • Rosa Parks showed us all that one little person can make a whole bunch of noise without so much as a whisper. She showed the world that the color of your skin shouldn't determine what part of the bus you sit in... as you ride through life.

Quotes about Pryor

  • The way he talked about race was so brutally honest and funny and unvarnished. It made me think that I had never encountered Asian identity being written in that way.
  • As Richard Pryor jokes: "I was a kid until I was eight. Then I became a Negro."
    • Cathy Park Hong "The End of White Innocence" in Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (2020)
  • I'm chasing Richard Pryor, man. I have not done—I still haven't done my version of his Long Beach concert. I've done some good stuff, but Richard Pryor in Long Beach? That's the greatest piece of stand-up ever done.
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