Furious Cool

Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him

Henry, David

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Furious Cool
Provides a rare glimpse into the life of the outspoken comedic genius whose humble beginnings as the child of a prostitute helped shaped him into one of the most influential and outstanding performers of all time. Richard Pryor was arguably the single most influential performer of the second half of the twentieth century, and certainly he was the most successful black actor/comedian ever. Controversial and somewhat enigmatic in his lifetime, Pryor's performances opened up a new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn't just new--it was heretofore unthinkable. His childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which Richard Pryor was born--his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse--helped him evolve into one of the most innovative and outspoken performers ever, a man who attracted admiration and anger in equal parts. Both a brilliant comedian and a very astute judge of what he could get away with, Pryor was always pushing the envelope, combining anger and pathos, outrage and humor, into an art form, laying the groundwork for the generations of comedians who followed, including such outstanding performers as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K. Now, in this groundbreaking and revelatory work, Joe and David Henry bring him to life both as a man and as an artist, providing an in-depth appreciation of his talent and his lasting influence, as well as an insightful examination of the world he lived in and the influences that shaped both his persona and his art.--Publisher's description.

Publisher: Chapel Hill, North Carolina :, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,, 2013.
Edition: First Edition
ISBN: 1616200782
Characteristics: xx, 297 pages ;,24 cm
Additional Contributors: Henry, Joe


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Jun 22, 2014
  • smichal rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

kind of a strange book. This biography quotes RP's own autobiography! Other times lines are quoted directly from one of his 1971 stand up comedy routines. (I saw it on youtube!) It's a sad story - horrible childhood growing up in an actual whorehouse. As an adult he was a brilliant comedian but constantly using drugs. The way he treated women was horrible (beating them constantly and abandoning them as soon as they got pregnant). Then he got MS and died. Also I found the racism to be so strange. I never knew that things were so bad as recently as the 1970s and 1980s. This book also contains a tonne of swearing and sexual language.

Dec 27, 2013
  • DellaV rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

After the first few chapters of Richard Pryor's life story, the rest of his story makes perfect sense. There is a lot of tragedy, way more than there was ever any comedy in his life; one wonders how he found the ability to laugh at anything, actually. This book is a more intense read than I thought it would be; more interesting, maybe, to sociologists rather than to people who were Pryor fans or people looking to follow Pryor's footsteps (I am sure no one would want to, even if they could.) A sad, confusing story about a sad and confused man.


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Jun 22, 2014
  • smichal rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

smichal thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Dec 27, 2013
  • DellaV rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

DellaV thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 17 and 99


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