“Saturday Night Live” and Richard Pryor: The untold story behind “SNL’s” edgiest sketch ever – Salon.com

“Saturday Night Live” and Richard Pryor: The untold story behind “SNL’s” edgiest sketch ever – Salon.com – That’s why Lorne Michaels had to have Richard Pryor. The show’s claims to hip edginess or even bare relevance would ring hollow without him. It’s no exaggeration to equate the back-to-back salvos of “That Nigger’s Crazy” (back in print on Warner Bros.’ Reprise label just a month earlier) and “… Is It Something I Said?” (released late in July) with Bob Dylan’s electric epiphanies of “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde on Blonde.” Just as every folk singer circa 1966 scrambled to plug into that same arc welder, lower the dark glasses, and send off a wild mercurial spray of white sparks into the sky, now it seemed every club comic carried a ghetto-talking phrasebook in his back pocket, as if that were the secret to doing what Richard did. “That’s the difference between Pryor and the pretenders who use profanity just to get laughs instead of making it a part of the characters and scenes they are trying to create,” says David Brenner. “Pryor could take the same bits he did at the Comedy Store or the Improv, vacuum out all the shits and motherfuckers for TV, and be just as funny.” With Richard as host, sufficient numbers of the alienated youth Michaels sought could be counted on to eject Pink Floyd from their eight-tracks, switch off the strobe lights, carry their bongs up from the basement, or switch over from their local UHF station’s ghoulish movie host just to see what Richard might do.

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