Monday, December 12, 2005

And It's Deep, Too

King of Comedy

(Image copyright �2004 Indigo, Inc. / Richard Pryor. All Rights Reserved.)

Johnny Cash - "A Boy Named Sue" (mp3)
(purchase here)

It was inevitable. The doc's title -- an encapsulation of his sardonic and self-effacing observations, precisely the sort of thing that would come out of the mouth of this particular senior of comedy, "I Ain't Dead Yet, Motherf*er!" -- had come to roost.

Would he have had it any other way?

Richard Pryor. Not a stand-up comedian. Not a writer-actor. Not even an animal rights activist. After all, he had that quality, that 'star' ability, like Nina, Stevie or Marvin, to transcend chatter. Forget the forgettable '80s films, or the crack tales, or even his inversions of profanity; he walked the line knowing that much of the debate would get mired in muckraking, patiently awaiting the dust to settle and for everyone to wake up: "Hello... what were we thinking?"

Watching Walk the Line, I was reminded of Pryor's redemption tales. His Is It Something I Said? remains a similar testament to life looking forward by laughing backwards; "What was I thinking?? Now, moving on..."

Additionally, I am reminded of their similarity in depravity of humor. Both had a keen sense of their audience's moral standards and subsequently dealt sin (both theirs and those of others) a loving towel-slap to the hiney. Hence, today's music selection, a live rendition of "A Boy Named Sue" from one of Cash's live albums, At San Quentin. The virtual limerick hinges on overdriven male machismo, but takes the boys to the brink before having the last laugh. Peep the media section Pryor's website for the hee-haws he had at both his fans' and his expense.

Of course, both Cash and Pryor are icons to me, sources for objects of sensation that I consume, embrace, analyze... so I can only regard them as such. Both are survived by a number of progeny and friends who have had concrete relationships with the men. Yet both crafted work that managed to touch a far-reaching mass... no, masses. No one population owns either; they belong to so many.

I am obviously saddened by their absence. But, hard-working 'til the very end, I am also relieved that they are finally at rest. Now, when I hear that whistle blowin', I'll always think, "What was I thinking? Those two were crazy..."

On another note, it's my girl's birthday. Hey~oh! Holla at your boy... On to the J-Biz tomorrow...


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