RIP Robin McLaurin Williams.
It’s been noted… it’s been stated… so, much like how I won’t tackle The Beatles, I’ll leave the simple observations between these two album covers to those who have finished before me. I will say, however, that it took me much longer than I’d like to admit to track down Mr. Cooper’s delightful cover rendition of the classic Whipped Cream & Other Delights. If I were to wear a hat, I would remove it, nod in respectful applause, and say, “Well done Mr. Cooper. Well done indeed, sir.”
(The Prudent Groove: Anti-hat since last Thursday.)
A day that goes by without a Richard Pryor quote is both a sad, and extremely rare day. Literally every time someone mentions a year from the 20th century, my tuned Pryears : ) perk up, and I do everything within my power to stop from breaking into the classic Sugar Ray Robinson routine. “Nineteen what?!” One of the best gifts I’ve truly ever given myself was the countless hours of listening to Richard Pryor. Because, in doing so, I’m now able to conjure up Rich’s voice in my head, seemingly at will. It’s an overwhelmingly comfortable feeling to have Richard Pryor with you every moment of every day. One of life’s little gifts, I guess.
The following is a list of everyday objects and well, whatevers that will forever be linked to the funniest man to ever walk the Earth (sorry, Jason Hardwick): fish sandwiches; dice; change for $1; craps; pet monkeys; walking in the woods; snakes; winos; 11 o’clock; blackjack; polar bears; (I’m literally crying I’m laughing so hard just thinking of these comedic bits) Mongo Santamaría; turtle soup; license plates; a cool breeze; and anything deep (to name a few).
I’m strongly considering dedicating Saturday mornings to Richard Pryor, much to the dismay of my girlfriend and our uptight neighbors. If you’re unfamiliar with the crowned prince of comedy, start with Craps (After Hours). Keep an open mind and the kids out of earshot. You’ll thank me.
Lenny Bruce was many things; an influence, a live wire in a time of controlled darkness, a perceived nuisance, and a picnicker. On the cover of The Sick Humor of Lenny Bruce, the legendary comedian basks in the glistening sun, next to a well-prepped picnic, and the memorial markers of those deceased. I’m about to head out on a little picnic of my own (not alone and NOT in a cemetery), and this is the only picnic-based album I could muster. I hope you all have enjoyed/are enjoying your Saturday, and if you haven’t dipped your toes into the lurid pool that is Lenny Bruce, I humbly suggest that you take a deep breath, and dive in head first… the water is perfect.
It’s not often that ignorance yields new chapters in listening entertainment. Take for example, if you will, Jose Jimenez The Astronaut: The First Man in Space. Don’t actually take it, I’m still listening to it. Acquired for its early-60s-kitchy-spaceage cover (and for only $3), I was comfortable that whatever ear-food was pressed on either side of this record would be worth my time, worth exploring (as in, out in space), and certainly worth $3. What I found was a sliver of comic history that I never knew existed.
José Jiménez was a fictional character played by the comedian Bill Dana, who is neither Hispanic, nor an astronaut. First appearing on The Steve Allen Show back in 1959, José Jiménez, or rather Bill Dana portraying this character he’d invented, gained considerable popularity throughout the 60s, appearing on television (The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Show) as well as releasing seven LPs and two singles.
Bill Dana would tread José Jiménez through various professions before landing (a little space humor) on his most popular role, the astronaut. This character’s popularity was so strong, that he was properly (and all official-like) made an honorary Mercury astronaut.
José Jiménez, the character, has been referenced in everything from Seinfeld to Mystery Science Theater 3000, to The Right Stuff, to The Wonder Years, to Get Smart, and even The Larry Sanders Show.
It’s amusing to discover hidden pockets of pop culture that date back over five decades. This record was released in 1960, and it traveled 53 years to reach my ears. Well done, Mr. Jiménez … well done indeed.
I didn’t get into “Craps” – After Hours until 1998, some 27-years after its initial release. This mundane fact, however, doesn’t detract from the laugh-out-loud hilarity offered by the “Crowned Prince of Comedy… His Royal Highness, Richard Pryor.”
I’ll humbly admit, that it was the Beastie Boys who inadvertently introduced me to the Great Comic Wizard. It was the sampling of Mr. Pryor’s, “I ain’t goin’ no place. MOVE me!” that starts Flute Loop, from the 1994 issued, Ill Communication that hooked me. If the Beasties sampled it, in my mind, it must be good. A philosophy still practiced to this day.
Craps is a vulgar, adolescent-minded, orgy-inducing nightmare of laughs. Keep in mind I’m focusing on this album instead of The Kinks’ 1971 country-influenced album, Muswell Hillbillies. For those who know me, they know that’s a BIG deal. For those who don’t know me, that’s a BIG deal. It doesn’t get any better than The Kinks… unless, of course, you’re talking about Richard Pryor.
The astounding number of quotable one-liners from this album is enough to force any up-and-coming comedian to return to their pizza delivery job. Rich’s cocaine-induced flow is unmatched in terms of laughs per minute (LPM’s). Pulling absolutely NO punches, Richard Pryor suggests the scenario of a white president (at that time Tricky Dick Nixon) having a black baby, the genitalia-arousing boxing skills of Sugar Ray Robinson, a marriage proposal perfectly coupled with a male’s sexual release (I’m trying REALLY hard to keep these descriptions PG), spousal orgy advice, and an adolescent Rich’s response to the inquiry of a concerned father over what his daughter is doing behind a locked door… here’s a spoiler, Rich doesn’t have any pants on.
These are just a few of the MANY examples of comedic genius delivered on this essential album. If you’re in the mood for funny, it doesn’t get any better than Richard Pryor.