My Comedy Hero: Raymond Mearns on Richard Pryor
'In my eyes he invented comedy as therapy and turned observation inward'
Most people would presume that my major influence in comedy would be Billy Connolly given the Scottish angle and my similarity of style. And it’s true! Billy is the principal influence in my professional life, however, I have chosen Richard Pryor as my comedy hero because of the way he opened himself up to his audience.
Pryor pioneered the confessional style of comedy, and in my eyes he invented comedy as therapy and turned observation inward. The sheer bravery that he exuded was awesome, as he opened himself up to a level of ridicule that most of us would find impossible to bear. We spend our lives trying to eliminate our defects of character and in the process lose ourselves as we become a faceless drone in the over-consuming, misdirected homogeneous mass that is mankind instead of just accepting ourselves and getting on with living full and purposeful lives.
Richard Pryor accepted himself, laughed at himself, and in so doing he gave people permission to laugh at themselves. Taking ourselves too seriously is the reason for all the troubles in the world; we are all stressed out and paranoid about not coming up to scratch. The way we look, the way we dress: everything is designed to keep us spending money we don’t have on stuff we don’t need to impress people we don’t even like. And Richard Pryor knew this: he is the cure for all the world’s known ills!
Jongleurs, Glasgow, Fri 13 & Sat 14 Jun; The Stand, Glasgow, Wed 18–Sat 21 Jun.