->''"Richard Pryor wants you to help underprivileged kids. Donate to the Ignited Negro College Fund."''
-->-- Sardonic comment on the accident, where he set himself on fire after freebasing cocaine

Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor (December 1, 1940 -- December 10, 2005) is often cited as one of the greatest Stand-Up Comedians. And just for once, they might actually be onto something there. His act influenced (and continues to influence) comedians varying from Creator/EddieMurphy, to Creator/BillHicks, to Creator/EddieIzzard.

He started out as a fairly non controversial figure, influenced more by Creator/BillCosby, than Creator/LennyBruce, and generally peddled his safe observational material to predominantly white audiences. It wasn't until an "epiphany" during a performance in Las Vegas in 1967 -- where he exclaimed "What the fuck am I doing here?" over the microphone, before walking off the stage -- that he would begin to develop his own profane, raw, and increasingly confessional style of comedy.

Although he took pot shots at a variety of targets, it's arguable that his most hilarious and biting material concerned his own life. Whether it was shooting up his own car with a magnum, his drug addictions, his childhood, or his health problems, Pryor would bare his private life in front of his audience in a way that even his most devoted followers could rarely come close to. His most notable routine concerned nearly accidentally burning himself to death in 1980 while freebasing cocaine, documented on his 1982 album ''Live At The Sunset Strip'', and also in the 1984 film ''Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling'', a semi-autobiographic drama Pryor wrote and directed. (Seriously, can you even picture Eddie Murphy trying to laugh off his "Good Samaritan" incident with a transvestite prostitute in his stand-up?)

Despite the controversies over his lifestyle and material (in 1974, he was replaced by Cleavon Little Jr., for the role of Bart in ''Film/BlazingSaddles'', because Warner Bros deemed him uninsurable due to his drug habits; In 1977, a variety show created by Pryor on NBC only lasted 4 episodes [[note]]but was notable for a cast that included Creator/RobinWilliams, Paul Mooney, and Sandra Bernhard [[/note]]) Pryor eventually found a degree of mainstream success, most notably in two films (''Silver Streak'' and ''Stir Crazy'') where he was paired with Creator/GeneWilder [[note]]two later films with Wilder were less well-received. [[/note]], and in ''Superman III''. He largely retired from the public eye after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1986, but made occasional posts online, and even made an appearance in the David Lynch ''Film/LostHighway.'' In 1998, he became the first recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

He died in 2005 following a heart attack. In 2008, in a poll taken from nearly 5000 of his fellow stand-up comedians, he was voted the funniest stand-up comedian of all time, narrowly beating out his long-time friend, Creator/GeorgeCarlin, for the title.[[note]]Lenny Bruce, coincidentally, came in third. [[/note]]

!!Related Tropes:

'''Examples in Stand Up Comedy'''

* ClusterFBomb: "''Fuck censorship and his Mama.''"
* CrazyJealousGuy: Admits he could be this way when his drug use caused him to be paranoid.
* DomesticAbuser: All but one of his 5 ex wives accused him of abuse and he admits to throttling his wife Jennifer in his autobiography.
* GallowsHumor: Pretty much his whole act after a while.
* ManOnFire: He lit himself on fire inadvertently when he was freebasing. He was reported to run a route described as "being a long distance ''in a car''".
-->"When you're on fire and running down the street, people will get out of your way. Except for one old drunk, going, ''(pantomiming holding a cigarette)'' 'Hey, buddy? Can I get a light?'"
** He later admitted in his autobiography that he had [[BungledSuicide done it on purpose]] in a drug haze.
* NeverHeardThatOneBefore: He was aware of the jokes people were making about his ManOnFire incident -- even pointing one of them out the first time he talked about it.
-->"'Do you know what this is?' ''(lights a match)'' 'It's Richard Pryor, running down the street.'"
* NWordPrivileges: He originally used it, even releasing albums called "That Nigger's Crazy" and "Bicentennial Nigger". Averted following a visit to Africa, where he resolved to stop using the word in his routine. (His love of the word "motherfucker", however, remained undiminished.)
* OutWithABang: Apparently the way his father died. ([[IncrediblyLamePun "He came and went at the same time!"]])
* RapeAsBackstory: As a child by a man in his neighborhood.
* RefugeInAudacity: He took a Smith & Wesson-made Magnum handgun and shot ''a brand new Mercedes-Benz'', destroying the engine. He discusses this in ''Richard Pryor Live in Concert''.
* SesameStreetCred: Doing the alphabet back in 1976 in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJh_EUrEAZg this video.]] And then there's ''Series/PryorsPlace''.
* SonOfAWhore: His mother was a prostitute and he even grew up in her brothel.
* TalkingAnimal: Usually dogs.
* ThisIsGonnaSuck: The aftermath of him shooting (and "killing") a [[CoolCar brand new Mercedes]] with a [[{{BFG}} magnum revolver]]:
-->''"And then I went inside the house. [[RealityEnsues Because the cops came]]. And ''they'' got magnums, too. But they don't kill cars, they kill [[PainfulRhyme ni-gars]]."''
* WhiteDudeBlackDude: The original. Accept no subsitutes.
* WisdomFromTheGutter: Subverted in the aforementioned "Wino & Junkie" bit.
-->"I'm gonna help you, boy. 'Cause I believe you got potential. You know what your problem is? You don't know how to deal with the white man! You got a white-man complex. I know how to deal with him. That's why I'm in the position I'm in today."
* WrongSideOfTheTracks: His mother was a prostitute, his father was her pimp, and he was raised in his grandmother's brothel. Need I say more?
** His was a HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood, although not so hilarious outside of his stand-up.

!! '''Examples in Movies''':

* AngryBlackMan: In ''Hear No Evil, See No Evil.'' Subverted in ''Film/StirCrazy.''
* LongerThanLifeSentence: In one of his concert films Pryor riffed on a convict he met who was serving triple life:
-->''How do you do triple life? That means if he dies, and comes back, he gotta go to the penitentiary! "Fuck kindergarten, kid, you comin' with us..."''