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Watch Early (1964) Richard Pryor Stand-up Routine - 3 Years Before His Career-Altering 'Epiphany'

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act December 28, 2012 at 2:36PM

Some Friday fun!
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Richard Pryor 2

Some Friday fun!

I thought this was really cool to watch. It's my first time seeing it, so I assume others haven't, thus I'm sharing.

It's a 1964 Richard Pryor performance on Kraft Music Hall - a popular NBC variety show that ran from the 30s to the 70s.

Pryor was just 24 years old here and very early in his comedy career - just about a year after he moved to New York City where he began performing regularly in clubs.

As you'll see, the material was quite tame, compared to the Richard Pryor we all know and love. He was a fairly non-controversial comedian early career - initially leaning more towards Bill Cosby than the profane-heavy, at times vulgar uncompromising examinations of race and class that his comedy would eventually become. 

His early safe material was often presented in front of predominantly white audiences. And it wasn't until his "epiphany" at a performance in Las Vegas in 1967, 3 years later, that it all changed for him.

Specifically, during his performance, as he's said, he exclaimed, "What the fuck am I doing here?" over the microphone, and then walked off the stage.

From then on, audiences got a completely different Richar Pryor - brutally honest, unflinching, and fiercely personal.

In the 1964 video below, you'll definitely see early signs of recognizable Pryor mannerisms...

As for whether we'll ever see the Marlon Wayans, Chris Rock-produced Richard Pryor movie... I can't say.

Watch:

This article is related to: Richard Pryor


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