My Comedy Hero: Stephen K Amos on Richard Pryor
The first time I stepped inside a comedy club was when I decided to do stand-up, so I didn’t have any comedy heroes and didn’t have a voice. But having done it for two or three years, I started looking at more and more comedy and got to know a few names and the one who still stands out for me is Richard Pryor, because he was so far ahead of his time. He broke out from being a young, on-the-edge black comic who was loved by his audience to appeal to a mass audience but without compromising his style too much and they bought it.
Then, he moved into that area of talking about himself on stage, personally; it took me about 12 years before I did that on stage. But the things he talked about and found comedy value in were breathtaking. He won over the black audience, then won over the white audience and then got into movies, some quite on-the-edge, some really funny, some he did clearly for the money and then went on to be the man we loved and then lost. Some of the big guys on the circuit now are masterful joke technicians but you don’t get anything of them at all; you have a feeling that you don’t have any idea who they are or what they’re about. I’m not sure there’s anyone now who could have the same impact as Richard Pryor had.
Amos’ live DVD Find the Funny is out now.
Perth Concert Hall, Sun 24 Jan; Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Mon 1 Feb