- Movie Rating -

Richard Pryor . . . Here and Now (1983)

| October 28, 1983

Someone once told me that comedy is born from tragedy.  It helps us understand our misery in a way that is relatable and comforting.  Show me a comedian whose material does not come from some form of misery.  Certainly, Richard Pryor knows this, and he uses all of the dark moments of his past as set pieces that we understand all too well at the same point that we laugh uncontrollably.

This is the template for the vulnerability of a comedian, especially for a man who had so recently set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine.  That he has come back clean and sober (seven months he says in this film) is not only his good fortune but also ours because it allows us to see a grand master of comedy working at the top of his form.

Richard Pryor . . . Here and Now is the comedian’s third concert film.  The first was Richard Pryor Live in Concert made at the moment when he was still using drugs.  The second Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip was made just a year after his accident.  In that second film there was a very guarded man, a very defensive man – I remember wondering if his fire-red suit was a statement.

Here and Now is his third film and he works the stage in a loose-fitting shirt with the sleeves rolled up.  He’s relaxed here in perhaps a quiet statement that he has found his peace with the demons that have plagued him.  His material is still confessional.  He talks about drunk drivers and their propensity for conversation.  He talks about his inability to pull himself together when he has been pulled over by the cops for driving while drunk.

His talent, once again, is in creating characters, not just cops, drunks, women, white people, ect., but also his own body, the weather, dogs, cars, his sex organ.  When he moves into a set, he’s not just telling a joke, he’s acting it out.  That’s his special gift.

And underneath all-too familiar material about marriage, drunks, sex, cops, white folks and his trip to Africa lies a vein of truth.  He’s come to grips with the pain in his life.  He understands that he was very lucky to have walked away from that accident.  He is able to laugh about it, and we understand why.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1983) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy