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Richard Pryor Live in Concert
Alternate Title: Richard Pryor-Filmed Live in Concert
Director: Jeff Margolis (Dir)
Release Date:   2 Feb 1979
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 2 Feb 1979; New York opening: week of 16 Feb 1979
Production Date:   29 Dec 1978 in Long Beach, CA
Duration (in mins):   78
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Cast:   Richard Pryor    

Summary: Following a performance by singer Patti LaBelle, comedian Richard Pryor walks on stage at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, California. He opens the show by comparing the public behavior of white people and African-Americans and imagines a white man in the audience behaving nicely when he finds an African-American has stolen his seat. Pryor remarks on his recent trouble with law enforcement, which involved shooting at a car while intoxicated. He describes his difficulty in finding a watchdog to protect him from police canines and remembers beloved pets, such as his lustful squirrel monkey and a miniature horse named Ginger that dogs mistook for a canine. The comedian recounts having a heart attack and enacts his emergency telephone call to God. Amid the hostile environment of the hospital, Pryor demonstrates that only the resilient John Wayne can defeat death. On the subject of dying, he recalls that his father passed away while having sex, which Pryor argues is a better option than being hit by a bus. Returning to the subject of race, Pryor impersonates the frenzied mourners of an African-American funeral and states that his grandmother used the same behavior to make him flush cocaine down the toilet. Although his grandmother disciplined him with switches and douche bags, Pryor preferred her punishment to the scare tactics of his father. Segueing to the topic of nature, the comedian is grateful that his father introduced him to the outdoors and illustrates the difference between men and women urinating in the woods. Furthermore, Pryor claims African-Americans are rarely bitten by snakes because their stroll is too “cool.” He impersonates two bumbling hunters tracking a deer and warns that one has to be careful among wild animals, unless you look like fearsome boxer Leon Spinks. Next, Pryor recalls the championship match between Spinks and Muhammad Ali and mentions that he was once in the ring with Ali. Although the event was a benefit, Pryor relates that the heavyweight champion was still intimidating. During his youth, he remembers being a good boxer in the gym, but a punching bag in the ring. The comedian then explains why running is not always an attractive sport and mimics a white man jogging. However, Pryor says that running is an important skill when you need to escape from a scary situation and advises against trying to be a “macho man” and fighting back. He comments that using your fists is ineffective against today’s youth who know martial arts. Another useful skill is exercising in the pool, but Pryor admits he cannot swim. He recalls that his children laughed as they watched him almost drown. Unlike his parents, Pryor admits he is not a strict disciplinarian and imitates how children fib to get out of trouble. Next, Pryor introduces Huey P. Newton in the audience. After speaking to an Hispanic man in the crowd, Pryor states that there are only forty Mexicans in the world when compared to the billions of Chinese. He does impressions of a Chinese man with a stutter and a Chinese waiter, who screams if you do not eat all of your food, then very calmly presents the bill. Pryor closes the show by discussing the topic of sex and orgasms. He assumes the character of the “macho man,” who is confronted by fear, ego, sensitivity, and back strain in the effort to please a woman. 

Production Company: Special Event Entertainment  
  Compact Video Systems, Inc.  
Production Text: Bill Sargent presents
A Hillard Elkins-Steve Blauner Production
A See Theatre Network Production In Association with Compact Video Systems, Inc.
Distributed by Special Event Entertainment New York Los Angeles London
Distribution Company: Special Event Entertainment  
Director: Jeff Margolis (Dir)
  Tom McConnell (Assoc dir)
Producer: Del Jack (Prod)
  J. Mark Travis (Prod)
  Saul Barnett (Exec prod)
  Jeffrey Chernov (Assoc prod)
Writer: Richard Pryor (Wrt)
Photography: Tom Schamp (Dir of photog, E)
  Hill Production Services, Inc. (Cam facilities)
Film Editor: Damask Productions (Ed services by)
  Steve Livingston (Film ed)
  Compact Video Systems, Inc. (Video ed facilities)
Sound: Heider Recording Services (Orig sd rec facilities)
  Biff Dawes (Mixer)
  Compact Video Systems, Inc. (Post prod sd facilities)
Special Effects: Howard A. Anderson Co. (Titles)
Production Misc: Carl Hanseman (Entire tech prod supv by )
  Bill Hopkins (Prod coord for Special Event Entertainment)
  Bill Povonda (Prod coord for Special Event Entertainment)
  Rima Riszkiewicz (Asst to the prods)
  Marcelle Garfield (Exec prod asst)
  Rashon (Road mgr)
  Don E. Branker (Live event prod)
  Howard A. Anderson Co. (Post prod)
Color Personnel: Deluxe (Col by)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Special Event Entertainment 11/5/1979 dd/mm/yyyy PA33949

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Comedy
Subjects (Major): African Americans
  Battle of the sexes
  Drug addiction
  Race relations
Subjects (Minor): Adolescence
  Death and dying
  Fathers and sons
  Heart disease
  Long Beach (CA)
  Muhammad Ali
  Police dogs

Note: The film begins with the onscreen statement: “This concert was recorded live at the Terrace Theatre [sic] in Long Beach, California.” During the opening credits, the following statement appears: “Patti LaBelle was an important part of the following program. Time does not permit us to include her in this recording but we gratefully acknowledge her performance.”
       As explained in a 24 Sep 1979 DV article, two versions of Richard Pryor Live in Concert were released in 1979. Both releases contained almost identical material of comedian Richard Pryor performing at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, CA. Distributor Bill Sargent, owner of Special Event Entertainment (SEE), included a notice on the posters for the second release that read, “Most of the material in this film was in the first concert. This concert was filmed on a different date.” The original Feb 1979 release was recorded on 29 Dec 1978, while the later 24 Sep 1979 release, titled Richard Pryor is Back Live In Concert, was filmed the previous night, on 28 Dec 1978. According to David Franklin, Pryor’s attorney at the time, there was “a ten to fifteen percent difference” between the two concerts. Franklin added that the 29 Dec 1978 concert was chosen as the initial theatrical release because Pryor preferred the performance. However, Sargent noted that there were additional cameras operating for the 28 Dec 1978 concert, which he thought might be more interesting for viewers. The second version was also five to six minutes longer. The filmmakers originally planned to combine the best material from both concerts. However, the idea proved to be an editing challenge since Pryor varied the sequence and rhythm of his stories each night. Therefore, the shows were presented uncut.
       In a 31 Aug 1979 NYT review of the second release, a spokesman for the production stated that the two performances could be differentiated by the fact that Pryor wears a wristwatch in the later release.
       According to a 21 Mar 1979 Var article, the original release earned over $5 million after four weeks in theaters. A 12 Feb 1998 LADN item reported that the film became “one of the highest-grossing concert films in history,” taking in over $30 million. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   24 Sep 1979   p. 1, 33.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Feb 1979   p. 3, 23.
Los Angeles Daily News   12 Feb 1998.   
Los Angeles Times   6 Feb 1979   p. 7.
New York Times   16 Feb 1979   p. 12.
New York Times   31 Aug 1979.   Section C, p. 13.
Variety   21 Mar 1979.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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