Richard Pryor Live In Concert (1979, Jeff Margolis)

A pretty good Richard Pryor stand-up act. This got a theatrical run in early ’79, and is on Jonathan Rosenbaum’s list of his 1,000 favorite movies. I love a good stand-up act, and I guess if I had a better memory for jokes, I could fold my favorite stand-up acts in with my favorite movies… but I really consider them to be separate beasts. Comedians still get theatrical runs once in a while (Sarah Silverman “Jesus Is Magic”), but I hardly ever think of them as cinematic. Even my favorite Spalding Gray monologue films (“Monster in a Box”, “Gray’s Anatomy”) I have a hard time reconciling with my other favorite films… I prefer to think of them as illustrated audio-books (sorry, Steven Soderbergh and Jonathan Demme).

I know Pryor was a groundbreaking comic, so I cringed when he got into the “black people walk differently than white people” part of his act. Not exactly original anymore, and not nearly on the same level as an average Chappelle Show episode. The more observational stuff, crowd interaction, stories of growing up, mostly great. Still, last week I rented Louis C.K. “Shameless” (directed by Steven J. Santos, an awards-show stage manager) and laughed more. Didn’t even think to add it to my “films” list. I think I only added those Ricky Gervais stand-up specials to the list because they were directed by the guy who did the Alan Partridge series.

Jeff Margolis directed the Academy Awards show for the first half of the 90’s, then moved onto the Miss America Pagent and Country Music Awards. I guess he’s the guy in the control booth who says “camera two on my mark… and… mark.”

I still want to check out the other Pryor concert movies sometime (chronologically, from directors of playboy videos, the hanna-barbera happy hour, and pryor himself) and maybe his TV special and series (from dir. of Mr. Show!).

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