Richard Pryor: ICON explores how Pryor transformed from a straight-laced comedian to one of the most controversial and thought-provoking acts of his time. Sex, drugs, race–nothing was off-limits to Pryor. By changing his routine, Pryor changed comedy forever. He opened the door for other comedians to inject social commentary and other once-verboten topics into their humor.

From his troubled upbringing in the slums of Peoria, Illinois to his brave battle against multiple sclerosis, examine the roller-coaster life and times of this comedic trailblazer. Though he was one of the most successful and influential entertainers of his generation, Pryor also wrestled with drug addiction and the lingering effects of being raised in a brothel by abusive parents. Featuring interviews with close personal friends and comedians he influenced, including Tracy Morgan and George Lopez, this film defines Richard Pryor’s lasting impact on comedy and culture, often in his own words, showing us why he is an American icon.


“Richard Pryor: Icon” is another sincere hour long look at the legacy of Richard Pryor. I love Pryor, even his roles in “The Toy” and “Superman III”. When I was a little kid, I was way too into “The Toy”. But, that’s a story for another time. What I’m trying to do here is not crack a freebasing joke. Those have been done to death and there’s not a lot else to talk about since the program is archival footage and talking heads.

Pryor has received a ton of documentaries following his death. Some are good, while others just want to pat him on the back. This program falls somewhere in between. I applaud PBS for breaking outside of their norm. That being said, they should’ve done something that hadn’t been done. Pryor had a rather rich childhood that never gets covered. Focus way more on Peoria and less on him hanging out with Gene Wilder.

The DVD comes with no special features. The A/V Quality is typical for a PBS documentary. The transfer is solid. The same goes for the Dolby 2.0 stereo track. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 12/23/2014

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