Old Sayings Retirement Home No. 8

Pryor not dead yet
We go from the bizarre world of the late Richard Brautigan to the equally bizarre world of Richard Pryor for our new saying. Do I have a thing about the name “Richard?” Well, I happen to know this guy named Richard. He’s really an okay guy once you get to know him.

The latest saying comes from Pryor’s “Mudbone,” the wino philosopher, in a rich tale ranging from a trip to Peoria from Tupelo, Mississippi, on a tractor (on one tank of gas) to the voodoo lady Miss Rudolph (like the reindeer)who had a monkey’s foot around her neck and a three-legged monkey. That monkey didn’t give her any trouble, by the way.

That routine never ceased to make me explode with laughter. The same can be said for a lot of Pryor’s work. I think the line about not getting to be old by being a fool is kind of instructive, especially coming from Richard Pryor. The man endured a truckload full of obstacles in his life — some of his own making and others not — that probably would have beaten down or killed many other individuals.

His biography starts with his being raised in his grandmother’s brothel in Peoria. He was raped as a child, then later molested by a priest. Pryor endured segregation. He later became a drug addict, set his self on fire, had two heart attacks and finally in 1986 was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Man, talk about your material!

I guess humor helped Pryor transcend a lot of his demons. And that humor has brought me no small amount laughter over the years. For that I am eternally grateful.

MS has left Pryor unable to perform anymore. But he points out on his Web site that while being down, he is still not out. Or as he so eloquently puts it:

“I ain’t dead yet muthaf****r!”

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