I’m bumming out pretty hard about Jon Stewart leaving The Daily Show. Gonna be a major void. And naturally, his departure got me thinking about Comedy records. For some reason I love Comedy records. They’re so unnecessary in this day and age of youtube, and that’s part of the reason I like them so much. They’re neglected to $1 bin status, lonely dusty records looking for some appreciation. And as a guy who spends way too much time around records, it’s these neglected genres that I’m often attracted too.
When I used to go to record stores, I would always look through the Comedy sections. You never knew if you’d find some eccentric gem on LAFF records, a Lord Buckley record, The 2000 Year Old Man, some Dr. Demento style novelties, a serious rarity like The Wide Weird World of Shorty Petterstein, or just a straight-up classic by someone like George Carlin & Richard Pryor. And let’s not forget that kids during the 1970’s listening to their parents records had a major effect on the development of Hip-Hop. It wasn’t just all that great Funk & Jazz they were listening to. But they also heard Rudy Ray Moore toasting and Richard Pryor telling it like it is.
As is commonly known, George Carlin & Richard Pryor were game changers. They completely revolutionized Comedy. These guys told censorship to ‘fuck off’, embracing an obscenity laced style of truth telling. And it was a very necessary catharsis.
Richard Pryor had so much influence. I love everything about this Wanted LP. Here you have Double LP major label gatefold release, fully loaded with obscenities and blunt discussions about Race in America. That’s revolutionary. And with all the current news about racial profiling & police brutality against African-Americans today, Richard Pryor was talking about this exact same issue back in the 1970’s. It’s unreal how things haven’t changed. On the opening track of this album, he talks about the infamous chokehold that L.A.P.D. officers use and going to jail for arbitrary & suspect reasons, “I didn’t know it was the death penalty to have a parking ticket.”
Richard Pryor- Wanted (Double LP on Warner Bros., 1978) is available at Folk Arts for $4. Got a bunch of his other records too!