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World's Greatest Stand-up: Richard Pryor

Published: 12/1/2011

Richard Pryor (Wikimedia Commons/Alan Light)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 standup comedy, Pryor played great characters, as he showed on his 1977 primetime 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.

Written by Linnea Crowther

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