My Comedy Hero: Romesh Ranganathan on Richard Pryor and Bill Burr
The Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee and Asian Provocateur star picks some iconic Americans as his comic idols
When I was a kid, I watched Eddie Murphy and got into Richard Pryor through him. I remember watching Beverly Hills Cop and The Golden Child and didn’t realise Murphy was a stand-up so I took Raw out of the video shop. It’s almost unwatchable now because of the misogyny and homophobia but at the time it was the most incredible thing I’d ever seen. He does a bit about Richard Pryor, saying that when he started he was merely impersonating Pryor as he knew he didn’t have the life experience to do it properly.
I watched Pryor off the back of it and thought he was amazing. His upbringing was so harsh and he went through so much stuff and would then talk about it on stage in a funny way; there was something very compelling about that. Now, I like a lot of stand-up but I’m biased towards the Americans. I do think that American stand-ups at times get a pass on stuff that a British comic wouldn’t.
Bill Burr is amazing. What I like about him is that he will put this thought process out there and I can’t see what he’s doing; I can’t see the mechanics of it, it just seems like a guy talking and for me that’s the ultimate: to watch a comic and not know that they’re trying to be funny. The conceit of stand-up is that this person is getting up there and just being hilarious. There are people I love but I can still see that they’re doing jokes.