WASHINGTON, May 31, 2013 —It is said that the best comedians are those that have experienced the most pain in their lives. Never was this more obvious than with the comedic genius of Richard Pryor. Raised in a brothel run by his grandmother where his mother worked as a prostitute, Pryor no doubt had a lion’s share of pain to call on for his stand up act.
But the true genius came from Pryor’s willingness to share it all with his audience, and the way in which he shared it. He didn’t look for pity when telling the story of his childhood, nor did he try to avoid personal accountability by taking the role of a victim.
What he did instead was teach us that laughter truly is the best medicine. Even after that fateful night when he lit himself on fire and almost died, Pryor’s next act included his version of what happened that night. And just like the act that followed his heart attack scare, Pryor was able to mine the tragedy in his life for the comedy within.
But for a man who so willingly bared his soul to his audience, Pryor was a private and lonely man who was just as afraid of being with someone as being alone. Pryor was married seven times to five different women and fathered six children.
In 1998, Pryor won the first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2004, Pryor was voted #1 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. But no amount of awards or posthumous recognition can truly acknowledge Pryor’s impact on American culture.
With his unapologetic observations on the state of race relations, he helped us look at society from a perspective unfamiliar to white America. In doing so he narrowed the gap of understanding and made us question racial stereotypes in this country.
In short, Richard Pryor was a master at telling it like it is. Long before the first rapper uttered the phrase “keep it real,” Richard Pryor had made a career out of it.
Tonight’s Showtime special at 9 p.m. will confirm yet again that through Richard Pryor’s suffering we all became a bit richer in spirit. R.I.P. Richard. You will always be numbered among the best.
All times are EDT
ABC: Shark Tank: (Repeat) Sandals for barefoot runners; a magnetic sound enhancer that doesn’t need power; a website that creates personalized soundtracks for children; an update on “Cousins Lobster.”
CBS: Undercover Boss: (Repeat) O’Neill Clothing CEO Toby Bost works undercover at his company.
FOX: Bones: (Repeat) A woman’s mutilated body is discovered in a city garbage can; Booth offers Sweets a temporary place to live while he looks for a new apartment.
NBC: Dateline NBC: (New) A look at developments in the case of Kathleen Peterson, a wife whose body was found at the base of a staircase in her North Carolina home in 2001.
CW: Nikita: (Repeat) Nikita and Owen face off against a rogue agent. Meanwhile, Michael assumes a new position at Division.
ABC: What Would You Do?: (New) A street musician insults the people around him; intoxicated parents board their boat with their child; a transgender girl tries on prom dresses; a woman enters a bar in her wedding dress, explaining she is having cold feet.
CBS: Hawaii Five-0: (Repeat) McGarrett investigates a seductive therapist he believes killed her patient. Meanwhile, Catherine searches for one of Doris’ former targets who is now seeking revenge.
FOX: The Following: (Repeat) In the premiere episode, former FBI agent Ryan Hardy is called out of retirement to help track down an escaped serial killer whom he originally caught years ago.
CW: Supernatural: (Repeat) Sam and Dean are attacked by a golem when they investigate a rabbi who spontaneously combusted. The probe reveals the rabbi was researching Nazi sorcerers.
Showtime: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic: (New) In this new documentary, iconic comedians recount the culture-defining influence of Richard Pryor, one of America’s most brilliant comic minds.
ABC: 20/20: (New) New details in the Alabama kidnapping that lead to a six-day standoff with the authorities.
CBS: Blue Bloods: (Repeat) Frank deals with a political crisis after Jamie and Renzulli are injured by a church security team that refuses to let them enter a religious center in response to a 911 call.
NBC: Rock Center with Brian Williams: (New) More than six weeks after the devastating Boston Marathon bombings, Brian Williams sat down with six amputee survivors at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital to hear their powerful stories of recovery, healing, and strength.
New episodes of:
Ultimate Treehouses at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet
Bridezillas at 8 p.m. on WE
Man-Eating Squid at 8 p.m. on SCI
Sons of Guns: Locked and Loaded at 8 p.m. on DSC
Something Borrowed, Something New at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on TLC
Marriage Bootcamp: Bridezillas at 9 p.m. on WE
Man-Eating Super Snake at 9 p.m. on SCI
Tanked at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet
Sons of Guns at 9 p.m. on DSC
Flea Market Flip at 9 p.m. on HGTV
Da Vinci’s Demons at 9 p.m. on STARZ
Treehouse Masters at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet
Wild West Alaska at 10 p.m. on DSC
Man-Eating Super Croc at 10 p.m. on SCI
Mystery Diners at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
Real Time with Bill Maher at 10 p.m. on HBO
Merlin at 10 p.m. on Syfy
The Dead Files at 10 p.m. on Travel Channel
Maron at 10 p.m. on IFC
I Found the Gown at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on TLC
House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV
For movie lovers:
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on BBC
Kid Galahad on ENC
Mallrats on FLIX
Old Dogs on FMC
Hancock on FX
Moonrise Kingdom on HBO
Prometheus on HBO
A New Leaf on TCM
Elizabeth on TMC
Sherlock Holmes on TNT
Snow White and the Huntsman at 9 p.m. on HBO
Chasing Amy ay 9:35 p.m. on FLIX
Lethal Weapon 2 at 9:40 p.m. on ENC
The Apparition at 9:50 p.m. on MOMAX
Con Air at 10 p.m. on AMC
1941 at 10 p.m. on TCM
Elizabeth: The Golden Age at 10:05 p.m. on TMC
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