Richard Pryor Jonathan Rosenbaum - Essay

Jonathan Rosenbaum

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

At the center of Richard Pryor's comedy is his grasp of poverty and weakness, pain and defeat—the very reverse of that strength and self-confidence which he can project so powerfully on a stage. Within the taut dynamics of his performance art, complex attitudes about success and failure, pride and shame, wealth and poverty, love and self-interest are constantly being formulated in relation to one another—guaranteeing the authenticity of his popular appeal, and the beauty and honesty of his self-scrutiny.

To get some measure of the imaginative empathy that Pryor can invest in his creations, his capacity to examine the reverse side of every coin, one need only compare his deer hunt in Richard...

(The entire section is 1386 words.)