Richard Pryor David Denby - Essay

David Denby

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Bending low, microphone in hand, Richard Pryor turns himself into two cheetahs calmly stalking a herd of gazelles in his new performance film, Richard Pryor Live on Sunset Strip. He's been recalling a trip to Africa in which he observed the animals—a mean mother African rabbit with a twitchy nose, so terrifying that Pryor wouldn't get out of his car; a hungry lion, rotating its haunches before the kill. Pryor assumes the body of each animal, and gives it a voice. His two cheetahs, companionably rubbing shoulders as they watch the doomed gazelles, could be a couple of debonair bloods in silks and Borsalinos sizing up the neighborhood on Saturday night. He's brilliantly anthropomorphic, but he doesn't merely...

(The entire section is 857 words.)