The Richard Pryor Show

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Richard Pryor Show
Richard pryor show intro.jpg
Created by Richard Pryor
Starring Richard Pryor
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 4
Running time 45–48 minutes
Original channel NBC
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 13, 1977 (1977-09-13)  – October 4, 1977 (1977-10-04)

The Richard Pryor Show is an American comedy variety series starring Richard Pryor. It premiered on NBC on Tuesday, September 13, 1977 at 8 p.m. opposite ABC's popular television shows Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days.

The show was produced by Rocco Urbisci for Burt Sugarman Productions. It was conceived out of a special that Pryor did for NBC in May 1977. Because the special was a major hit, both critically and commercially, Pryor was given a chance to host and star in his own television show.

TV Guide included the series in their 2013 list of 60 shows that were "Cancelled Too Soon".[1]

Production history[edit]

The Richard Pryor Show lasted four episodes during the 1977 season. It featured a mix of satire, social commentary, conceptual comedy, improvisation, slapstick, and the occasional dramatic bit.

Pryor's contract stated that the show was to air at 9 p.m., but it was aired at 8 p.m. Industry observers questioned NBC's decision to put one of America's most controversial and profanity-laced artists in the middle of "family hour" on Tuesdays.[2]

Pryor was ready to quit before production even began because of network intervention, indifference, and incompetence during the development stage. He was eventually wooed back, agreeing to do four episodes of the show instead of the ten originally required by his contract. The four episodes were produced, and they aired in consecutive weeks, but the network interference that almost canceled the show before it began returned when the first episode's introductory bit was cut just before air. The bit began with a close-up of Pryor's face as he explained that he was not going to have to give anything up in order to bring his brand of comedy to network television. Then the camera pulled back to show an apparently nude Pryor with his genitals removed (Pryor wore a full-length body stocking, so no nudity was shown).[citation needed]

The Richard Pryor Show did not do well in the ratings, while the programs that preceded it and followed it were highly rated. After Pryor fulfilled his contractual obligations, neither he nor the network pursued any further episodes or specials.


The main cast consisted of Pryor as various characters. Some of the more popular characters were Pryor playing a money-seeking priest, a wino, and a white-hating rock star. The rest of the cast consisted of comedians, some of whom went on to have popular careers in Hollywood.

Episodes and controversy[edit]

Pryor only filmed four episodes of the show, and there were controversies beyond the first episode's title-card scene. A skit in which Pryor appeared as a machine gun-toting rocker who kills all of his white fans also caused a stir. The second episode also featured a controversial skit that showed a woman in a park describing what her first lesbian experience was like. Probably one of the most shocking and revealing skits of the show came during the last episode. The skit featured a roast (similar to ones by the Friars Club or hosted by Dean Martin). The show's cast roasted Pryor, who sat with his head down laughing mildly while regulars on the show either had kind remarks or very scornful ones.[3]

DVD release and syndication[edit]

Because Pryor's status as a comedic and Hollywood icon continued to grow, a two-volume DVD set was released on March 23, 2004. The DVDs include the special that Pryor did that was the inspiration for the series.

In February 2010, the African-American-themed cable network TV One aired a five-hour marathon of The Richard Pryor Show, which consisted of the original special, followed by all four episodes of the series. The broadcast marked one of only two times that the show had been aired on television since its original run on NBC. In the late 1990s,it was re-shown as a summer filler show after most of their other series had either been canceled or fulfilled their regular seasons. In February 2011, TV One re-aired the episodes again in honor of black history month. The network began showing the episodes again, in August 2012.

On March 11, 2010, The Top 10 Greatest Sketches from The Richard Pryor Show was released by Alright, Dude Productions, featuring a mini-documentary format on Pryor's history, the conception of the show, and eventually moving into the actual countdown portion.


  1. ^ Roush, Matt (June 3, 2013). "Cancelled Too Soon". TV Guide. pp. 20 and 21
  2. ^ O'Connor, John (13 September 1977). "TV: Pryor's Art Is Strong Stuff - 'Soap' Weak". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "The Richard Pryor Show (3-Disc Boxed Set) : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Retrieved 2012-07-15. 

External links[edit]