On this day in comedy on September 13, 1977 The Richard Pryor Show premiered on NBC.
Industry insiders questioned putting the notoriously raw comedian on at 8:00pm during the prime-time family hour so it was no surprise when the show was cancelled prematurely. Richard Pryor, one of the greatest comedians of all time was never known for being ‘family-friendly’ and his four-episode run was proof of that. There was the opener that had Pryor naked and his genitals blurred out as he proclaimed the network had taken nothing from him. He had a skit where he was a rocker and shot up all his white fans. Even his roast, where his cast members sliced him with cutting barbs was none too cozy. The hour-long show dealt with gay issues, political issues, religious issues and everything his time slot considered taboo.
Pryor had a great cast to help him pull off his madness. Thanks to his writer / talent coordinator, Paul Mooney top notch-unknown talent was recruited: Robin Williams, Marsha Warfield, Sandra Bernhard, John Witherspoon, Tim Reid, Vic Dunlap and Edie McClurg.
Produced by Burt Sugarman it was a spin-off of a special Pryor had done for the network in May of 1977. They wanted to capitalize on that hit, but with all the censorship, Pryor quickly became disenchanted with network television’s working realities and walked away. The last episode aired October 4, 1977.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
Check out this clip: