Richard Pryor Pauline Kael - Essay

Pauline Kael

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

When [Charlie] Chaplin began to talk on-screen, he used a cultivated voice and high-flown words, and became a deeply unfunny man; if he had found the street language to match his low-life, tramp movements, he might have been something like Richard Pryor, who's all of a piece—a master of lyrical obscenity. Pryor is the only great poet satirist among our comics. His lyricism seems to come out of his thin-skinned nature; he's so empathic he's all wired up. His 1979 film "Richard Pryor Live in Concert" was a consummation of his years as an entertainer, and then some. He had a lifetime of material at his fingertips, and he seemed to go beyond himself. He personified objects, animals, people, the warring parts of his own...

(The entire section is 1276 words.)