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World's Greatest Stand-up: Richard Pryor

Getty Images / WireImage / Bob Riha Jr.

World's Greatest Stand-up: Richard Pryor

Comedy Central's list of all-time greatest stand-up comedians includes some spectacularly funny people – Johnny Carson, Chris Rock, Bob Hope, Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Roseanne Barr, George Carlin – but at the very top of the list, the funniest of them all, is Richard Pryor.

Pryor was known for his often-vulgar routines and unflinching explorations of racism (routines we love but can't publish on a family website). But Pryor could play it clean, too, like when he amused adults and children alike on Sesame Street.

In addition to his straight stand-up comedy, Pryor played great characters, as he showed on his 1977 prime-time special.

Pryor turned his acting skill into a successful movie career. His first starring role was in a movie that was controversial with critics, but beloved by fans – The Toy.

It's been almost six years since Richard Pryor's death, and today is his birthday – he would have turned 71. Though he lost some of his vulgar edge as he grew older, Pryor remained funny to the end, unquestionably earning top honors among comedians.