Dick's Last Stand
A national standup tour
organized on the occasion
of the 2014 Whitney Biennial


[Here is the transcript of the original standup routine written and performed by Richard Pryor for The Richard Pryor Show. The performance was never broadcast, and the show was canceled soon afterward.

I rehearsed the 40+ minutes of written material, dialects, and gestures until I felt I could do them in my sleep. The transformations from one character to the next were the hardest to get down but also a part of the show that I relished doing, because, on a good night, those moments were when I could feel that the audience was really with me, immersed in the tale, traveling from character to character and place to place. Richard Pryor, Mudbone, Bubba, Miss Rudolph. Mississippi, the train depot, up North, Miss Rudolph's house.

I had two beautiful suits lovingly tailored by Clarisse Ibinga and a costume mustache altered to fit the character. After a world premiere in Paris and two dress rehearsals—one on the east coast and one on the west—I hit the road.

It was an amazing experience. I performed twelve shows, traveled 10,000+ miles, and brought some live Richard Pryor to people all across the country at a trade fair, an artist's bar, contemporary art museums, a shoe store, community centers, performance spaces, and a comedy club.

Yes, we did actually play a comedy club in Lincoln, Nebraska. No offense to any of the other places and venues, but I think it was my favorite night of the tour.

Why? You had to be there.

One last thing. Very few critics seemed to notice (let alone comment on) what a profound piece of writing Pryor's monologue is, a multilayered stemwinder that implicates the power relations, racial histories, and role playing that are inherent to my existence. That's one reason why I chose to reprise the routine in the first place.

So here's a second chance. Take a moment to appreciate the narrative brilliance—and defiance—of Richard Pryor. May he rest in peace.]


Richard Pryor standup routine, NBC television, 1977


[Introduction]

[Applause]

[Richard Pryor, dapper as always, works his way through the audience to the stage
while smoking a cigarette.]


THEY DIDN'T START the tape or nothing, yet, I just wanted to walk through the audience and shit and get the thing. That’s the thing if I feel like walking through is the rope, that’s the snake rope. Oh, thank you.

[The mc takes Mr. Pryor's cigarette away from him, and informs him there is a fine for smoking.]

Smoking? Oh, a $50 fine for smoking, I can handle that! No, I was really comfortable, see, white folks take everything from me. See, smoking, if it had been a joint, they’d say ain’t no fine for that.

I’m here, I’m gonna do a stand up on the T.V. show and I’m not going to edit, and so a lot of people here might be offended and so you should leave now, cuz I’m gonna say "fuck," and "suck," and "shit," and "doo doo." No, because, you know, the people- this is my last show and people say like, I was –ah- cancelled and that’s bullshit. Motherfuckers didn’t cancel me. Let me say it so that they can get on the air: “I was not canceled.” So they can have a little cut to make, you know, and shit. No, it was not cancelled- this is ah- we were only supposed to do four shows and this is the last show and –uh- that’s it. And I’m getting my ass out of here. Naw, they’ll make you kill a motherfucker up in here boy. With the shit they be telling a nigger like, “You can’t do that.” Say, “What the fuck you mean?” I was gonna do a thing about faggots and the mother fuckers, they called up the faggot expert. I swear, I ain’t lying man! They got- NBC gotta motherfucker called- from the gay liberation, they call up. You know it’s the faggot expert. They call up, they say, “Will this be offensive?” And the motherfucker say, “I think that’s very offensive.” And then they call me and tell me, “You can’t do that.” And I say “Oh, alright, now who the nigger you call up?” The white boy went, “Uh… well uh… we uh… hm, ah…” “No,” I said, “what’s the nigger’s name you call up when the shit is wrong?” “Well... uh... we… it doesn’t matter, really... ah… we’ve never cared about colored people, why should we start now? Is- i- is- is- are colored people gay?” So... the shit is funky, boy, they be funky.

So, I’m gonna do a little bit of stand-up here, and I wanted to do Mudbone. And, Mudbone had told me –thank you- Mudbone... Black woman with a Gucci bag, get down, mama! Shit… We know how to style! Boost your ass off, don’t you (think)? So... but... I wanted to- I need a stool. If uh, can uh, can props bring up a stool because you might get on T.V. and make some money. A little stool here because Mudbone likes to sit down. Mudbone was a old man I met in Peoria, where I’m from- I’m from Peoria- was a old man- thanks. Uh, thank you for that little applause... But, he was interesting. You know, he was –ah- retired. And, here’s a white boy bringing me a chair, don’t look nothing like a stool, but... the motherfucker got a chair. See, white boys do they work, boy. He’ll bring a chair. You ask a nigger, “Mother fuck it… Hey, here’s a stool motherfucker. Here, sit on that.”

[The stagehand delivers the chair to Mr. Pryor.]

See, Mudbone aint used to sittin in shit this comfortable- and mike?! Whacaw!! White folks doin the mike and shit. Made it for a short nigger, too.

See, Mudbone is a person who was born in Mississippi and I knowed him well, you know? And- and he dipped snuff, you know? And he sit around in front the pool hall or BBQ pit and he spit in a can. That’s the one I need, boy, bring that up here, cuz this here is uncomfabull. I ain’t used to sittin in shit like this here. This what I need.

[The stagehand returns with a proper stool, takes the chair away, and apologizes.]

Thank you. I’m gonna start all over now. So- lemme adjust it. Lemme sit down. He had a old Maxwell House coffee can with the top cut off of it, and he spit in it, see? And he talked shit. See, like that there. You know, that was his job: spitting and talking. Cuz, I ain’t never seen him do no work. But he tell me fascinating stories. And, uh, as they say nowadays, he freaked me out, see?

[Mr. Pryor is distracted off-stage.]

What?!

[A technician enters to ask Mr. Pryor if he wouldn't mind starting over.]

What the hell you talking about, “a clean start,” this is clean as you can get. Shit, I ain’t worried ‘bout television, Mudbone don’t give a fuck ‘bout television. Speak about what I want to! Shit, cause I work hard for my money.

I remember the time I come up here. I was a young man then, I come up here, I was a veteran, see? And, I had been travelin, read a Zane Grey was my favorite, see? I knew about travelin, so I read about it. He was alright with me, but the Indians lost too much. But… I liked him, you know, I read them shoot-em-ups, you ever read them? See, I learned how to read- Mahelia Thompson taught me how to read. Before I could get some pussy. She said, when you can read- when you learn how to read this note I gave you, you can get some pussy. So, she gave me a note and I learned how to read and the note said “No, you can’t have none.” And that was the first thing I ever read, you know. Took me two years to find out I couldn’t get none. But she dead now, so fuck her, you know. But… I was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. And, I come up here- it was an accident cuz I lived in Mississippi, I worked on a plantation what they used to call them. See, you young people don’t know nothing about that, it was a plantation. I worked on at Mr. Johnson’s plantation, he’s a good old white man I used to work for, you know, he was fair. But, he had a son named Junior. Now, he was hard to work for cuz he was cockeyed. That’s right, eyes went every which a-way, you know. And we called him ‘Cockeyed Junior,’ you know. And he was hard to work for cuz he would say, “Hey, nigger, pick that up,” you know, four or five niggers bend down, you know. Cuz you didn’t know who he was looking at. You know, eyes talking like this here…

[Mr. Pryor wiggles his fingers under his eyes while googling them around.]

One day he was gonna get married- Junior was gonna get married. He married a woman out this- one o’them woman mag contests. They had a book, you know, you write for your bride you know. He wrote for her. Showed me the picture. I laughed. But, not out loud, you know. Well, shit, that’s what he want: he cockeyed, she ugly, what the hell? And they sent me to the depot to pick her up, you know. I went and that’s when they had the steam engine train, you know, you go pick them up. I went up there- I rode up in the horse, Ginger, I had a buggy. I took Ginger cause she’s the best one to ride cause she wouldn’t trot on you, you know, she’d gallop good, you know. The other one break into a trot and the other one fart in your face, you know. Nothing worse than a horse fart(ing) in your face. I mean, I can take a lot of shit but a horse fart(ing) in my face, I just... Cuz they fart lasts for 3 or 4 miles, (ba bump, ba boop, etc). Very rythmetic too- they don’t just fart, “Bunph!” there’s a whole lot of rhythm: (makes noises). Sound like Mongo Santamaria, or somebody.

So I rode to the depot, took me about a hour and a half to get there. A pretty day, you know, you smell the honey blossom and everything. Now, you know, I got there- the train come (m)oooovin in and she stepped off the train: Bitch weighed about 400 and 80 pounds. You know, and I was sittin in the buggy and I said, “Oh, Jesus. Lord have mercy.” Well, I went to help her off the train, what have you, and she had some luggage there. They just chucked her luggage off the train you know, they just, “Get rid of this motherfucker,” just throw it off, like that. I bent down to pick up a bag and I said, “Excuse me ma’am, are you here to marry cockeyed Junior?” and she had an attitude (white lady’s attitude). “Well, you the lady I’m here to pick up.” I bent down to pick her shit up, the bitch slapped me upside the head! A good one, you know, pop! “Goddamn,” I said, “Goddamn! What the fuck?!” Shit! And, you know, niggers weren’t allowed to have hair in them days, it was just plain skin, you know? Hurt the shit out me, you know? I said, “Okay, I’ll accept that,” and I said, “Well, let me help you get in the buggy.” She said, “I don’t need your help!..” She stepped in the buggy and the goddamned thing turned over on her. Now, I start laughing and shit, you know, to myself. You ever try to laugh to yourself, like that? I got a ulcer just from laughing at her ass. So, I turned the buggy over and the conductor- I heard the conductor say, “That’s a ugly old bitch, ain’t she?” And the white folks start laughing you know, “Ha ha ha!” you know, I didn’t laugh with them, though, cuz they trick a nigger, see? You know, they start laughing and then you join in and they get your ass out there, see? So I accept that, you know.

So, I get her in the buggy to get on home, and we ride 20 or 30 minutes and she hit me upside the head again. One of these good ones- sound like a bullet, say, “Piyaaa!!” Shit, I thought she shot me or something. “What the fuck, goddamn, I will kill this woman.” I’m saying this to myself though I ain’t gonna say this out loud, you know, but I’m thinking on her ass. We get home where we going to, I introduce her to her fiancé, and then I helped her out of the buggy too, thinking I had to hold tight cause she’s strong. You know, she stepped down and all these muscles were torn loose and shit. I helped her down, she walked around and stuff, talked to her husband real nasty, “Where’s the bedroom? (etc, etc.)” and, Cockeyed Jr. points to the wrong place you know, he point all out in the field. We had to move his hand over- that way. Shit, so they in there that night doin it- we had to listen, you know? They in there doin it- he didn’t do no damage but he was in there makin noise, you know, in there hollerin, “Ooh, haah!” Reason he was hollerin: he stuck his dick in the lantern. He didn’t know it was hot, shit, he didn’t know. We say, “Shit, Jr. you in big trouble. Burned all the head off of it.” So… that’s some funny shit though, I tell you.

So, I remember I fixed a trap for her ass for hitting me upside the head, see, she had to go to the outhouse, I knew that you know, because I saw her eat dinner and she ate 4 pounds of greens, you know, 8 pounds of turnips, you know. I say, “Yeah, I got her ass, now. She be out here any minute now. And, I fixed it up: I cut the bottom out the outhouse, you know. So, she come running out, “Where’s it at daddy, where’s it at?” He pointed, so she went the opposite direction, that’s how she know she right. And she went to sit down, the mother fucking thing fell loose and she fell in the cesspool. So, I laughed my ass off. I wasn’t mad at her ass no more either. You know the thing though, that I studied about white people, though? Boy, do they know how to laugh. Cuz Jr. wasn’t laughing worth a shit when he came out there, now he’s cockeyed and he come running out there he tripped his ass in there, too. Fell on top of her. They had to call the fire department to pull them out, you know.

I came up north after that, you know. I got in a tractor and drove up here, 782 miles on one tank of gas. Hey, boy. Come empty this out there on the curb for me. Well shit, I gave you fifty cents, empty it out. So, I come up here. Cuz I liked it up north, I heard about it, I come up here, it was in 1920… 27. That’s when I come up here. It was good up here then when you come up north, see, cuz they didn’t have too many niggers up here. They like to see a nigger, “There’s a nigger! Bap!” They went crazy, see, they was happy. Down south they had a bunch of them, they didn’t care about them, see.

So, I come up here, and that’s when I met my partner, ol’ Bubba. Bubba was a bad nigger. I mean, that nigger was bad, you know? I mean, he whup 4 or 5 police men and take their badge downtown. That’s right. He should take their guns because they beat the shit out of him with their clubs. He was something else, nigger lie his ass off... He told me some lies. I never- you ever hear the lie about the nigger with the big dick? You never heard that story? The nigger with the biggest dick in the world. Well, two niggers had the biggest dicks in the world, they gonna have a contest. Say, two of the niggers with the biggest dicks. So, they decide to go to the Golden Gate Bridge and see who had the biggest dick. They gonna have a contest and they didn’t want to do it in front of a bunch of people, they gonna do it in private on the Golden Gate Bridge. So, one nigger, he zip his pants down and whup it out there, throw it over the bridge. The other nigger he zip his down and whoop it over there. And, they stand there about five minutes, you know, seeing who got the longest, and one nigger, he finally says, “Goddamn, man, this water cold!” The other nigger say, “Yeah, and it deep, too!” He say, “Yeah, and it deep, too!”

Goddamn, that nigger lied his ass off. Nigger got in trouble though, you know. He was fucking with a girl from New Orleans -and I told him about fucking with her cuz she can put that voodoo on his ass, you know, work the mojo on him- but he kept fucking with her and fucking with her. You know, chipping with her now and again. That’s right, chipping. That’s right, boy, you know the word, same shit you be doing. Well, but, this nigger chippied up on a hurting cuz this bitch put something on his ass. I saw this nigger about a year later, the nigger was sick: his eyes was bleeding, blood coming out his hair, dripping down like this, dandruff is falling out his ears, and his chin and adam’s apple kept coming out like that. The nigger weighed about 102 lbs. I looked at the nigger, the nigger said “Who am I?” I said “How the fuck I know?” I said “You damn sure ain’t Santa Clause, cuz if any presents been given out, you got them all boy!” I ain’t lying, boy, the nigger was hurt! You know, he come and talk to me about fifteen minutes, best he could. He couldn’t talk cuz he couldn’t sit long enough. He had the piles. He couldn’t finish a- he’d sit and “Well, I gotta get up now.” I said, “What happened?” He said, “The girl from Louisiana done put a hurt on me, boy. I went to the house and she had two forks over the door with some okra on it.” And I knew right out, say “Aw, shit.” Say, “That’s your ass now, boy.” I said, “Were the seeds out?” He said, “You’re goddamned right!” That’s a sure sign, you know. But I knew a voodoo woman lived ‘cross town, name of Miss Rudolph…

Well, I drove the nigger over to her, you know, it wasn’t but $5 in them days, you know, to get cured. I didn’t have no money. I made him pay for it, but shit, I drove him over. The nigger’s feet swole all up and everything. I drove him over there- the nigger was funny though, every time I hit a bump he cry, “Ow... oooh...” I’d say, “Partner, I’m doing the best I can.” You know, shit, you know. I let him out the car, I say, “Come on, let’s go in the house, you knock on- He said, “Shit no, not me!” So I got to go knock on the door! Now, I’m scared of the dark and shit, you know, but I’m gonna go knock on the door. Shit, he’s my partner, you know. I knock on the door: tippity-tap, tippity-tap. And she opened the door and she flew it open, you know, and the funk rushed out the house! Damn near knocked me to my knees! I had to grab hold the cradle of the door I said, “Jesus, please, help me, Jesus.” And I passed out for just a couple of seconds, you know. And I opened my eyes, and this big bitch is standing up there naked. And, big fat motherfucker and you can’t see no pussy, that’s how big she is. There’s just a big bunch of meat across here like that there. And- and, got the biggest titties in the world. I’m talking about humongous. And got a tattoo on each titty. One titty winking at your ass and the other titty talking about how are ya? And I start praying right away, “Jesus, help me, Jesus, help me,” because –shit- I’m a Christian, I don’t know what the fuck she’s talking about, you know. Well, I must have made the right sign cuz she let me come in, you know. Crawl in, I didn’t get up, you know. I crawled on in, and the funk and shit was in there stinkin boy!

And I entered, I said, “Miss- I know Miss Rudolph, I heard about you, please don’t hurt me.” And she’s talkin about, ”Hurt? I ain’t hurt nobody. What you- what you want?” She was irritated, “What you want?” and she did that and dust and shit flew out her arms. “Lord have mercy,” I said, “Boy, I must love this nigger to do this here.” I started to cut him loose there, two or three times, you know. But- but, nigger can’t run, I’ll outrun that car we brought over, you know. I get in there, I talk to her, explain the situation, and she said, “You know, I’m gonna help you.” And I said, “Well, how much money you want?” And, she said, “I don’t want no money. I ain’t like that, whatever you heard, I don’t need no money, you know.” She said, “All I want from you is Thanksgiving, bring me by a turkey. That’s all the payment I want,” you know. And I’m thinking, “Well, fuck this bitch, I’m gonna trick her ass. She ain’t never gonna get no turkey from me,” shit, cuz it was July then, you know. “Sure, I’ll bring you a turkey baby,” you know. About that time, a big old tarantula crawled up my arm, went around my neck -I damn near shit on myself- went down this arm and jumped on the table. You know what I mean? I stomp- trying to stomp that motherfucker and putting my hand on top of it, and press real hard. I lift my hand up, and the goddamned tarantula is gone! I said, “Oh, Lord,” I said, “What happened to the tarantula?” She said, “Well, that’s alright. If you don’t bring me that turkey, you will see him again.” Well, that bitch got a turkey coming, far as I’m concerned. I don’t give a fuck if it’s 1979, she’s getting a turkey, see.

So, I get my partner in the house –I love him to death, boy, that nigger was something else- I got him in the house, then a bat come out and start flying around the room. Birds start crawling over the floor and the bat just shitting all over everything. And it wasn’t bad enough, the bitch had a three-legged monkey. Lil ugly squirrel-like monkey come out with little hands like this here and be grabbing your ears, and shit, like this. And, my partner’s feet hurt so bad he couldn’t do nothing, he sat up there. I slapped that monkey 440 feet, I knocked the shit out that monkey. It bit me on the finger like that, nad my finger swole up like this here, over here and the puss run out this hand! I left that monkey alone. And, the monkey had three legs, that’s what scared me, you know, cuz I saw the other leg around her neck. She wore it as a chain; it had that lil monkey foot, she just wave it at you, she waved that monkey back on my shoulder. I said, “Aw, shit.” Monkey sat up there, I talked to him, you know, I said, “Bababababa.” He said, “Bababababababa.” She said, “I understand.”

She had some cards she turned over, you know, 3 or 4 cards. She turned ‘em over and mixed ‘em up. Threw a lil rice over her shoulder. She had some salt and she ate it. About an ounce of salt, she swallowed it. I know she don’t need to be fucked with then. And she say, “I understand your problem, I understand your problem (2x)…” That’s the way she would- she had a rhythm, “I understand your problem, I understand your problem…” And, I thought she had a head rag on, it was her hair! “I understand your problem,” and she said, “I’m gonna fix it up.” Cuz my partner’s feet were hurting, hurting bad. The nigger’s got feet- looked like he had elephantitis about the feet. Swolled up his feet- Well, I tell you what his feet looked like, have you ever seen an empty barrel? Well, that’s what his feet looked like. They looked like the bottom of an empty barrel. All the way. So, the nigger sat up there and his feet hurting. Looked like cushions; every time he pounced, it hurt a little bit cuz his toes was on the bottom. Funny thing about feet, they got the top and the bottom. And they hurt him bad: “Ooh, ah, ooh, ah…” I wanted to laugh but I didn’t cuz I like him, you know.

And she brought out a bedpan ‘bout this big, little, round. Yes ma’am, she did. And if I’m lying, I’m flying. And she brought it out like this here, and she said a few magic words and then she pissed. She pissed in the pan. Did you hear what I said? And she pissed for 15 minutes. And I don’t mean no ordinary piss, I’m talking about strong ammonia piss. She re-odor-ized that room with this piss, this come up like that. I said, “My God, I can’t stand it,” you know? And she said a few more words, “Zaba zaba,” whatever, you know. Then she told my partner, she said, “Put your feet in the piss.” They had to carry me out then. This nigger put his feet in that piss I’m blue. Well, I guess nothing from nothing leave nothing because the nigger put his feet in the piss! I had to lift his foot up -one of them fit in there, I thought the other one gonna fit in there- then I said, “My god, the bitch gonna piss some more.” I had to push his feet down in the piss like that there, you know. I got a little on my hands, I don’t care, you know. Then she said a few words over it, and the piss come just a-smoking. The lights start blinking, the monkey jumped out the window went crazy, and the piss turned blue. I swear to Jesus... piss! I said, “Oh my god!!” Cause I ain’t never seent no blue piss. I said, “Man, look at the piss!” And he said, “Yeah, it’s blue!” Well, he took his feet out the piss and they was healthy! The boy had healthy feet. But… …they was real tiny. The nigger had baby feet! And he looked down at his feet: nigger went berserk! Threw the couch out the window, kicked that big bitch in the ass (he kicked her in the ass and he needed a new pair of knee caps) bit her ear off, slapped me in the face, started my car, drove around the block, came back, jumped in the house. The nigger was fucked up, I’m telling you! Went outside, ate the monkey’s foot. Shouldn’t have done that though, that monkey’s foot went to work on his ass. Fucked him up real bad. I’m telling you now, if you go to the zoo, you’ll see that nigger. He’s a big polar bear, with little tiny feet, just like this here.

Now, wait a minute, this shit ain’t over yet. I ain’t gonna leave you with what you know. I’m gonna bring something new to your ass.

Now, cuz, people ask me, ‘Well, how you know so much about so little?’ You know, but I know stuff, I worked hard all my life, I worked 35-40 years down the packing house, you know. I get a pension. That’s right, cuz when you work that long, you supposed to get a pension. I get a little –like $127.50 a month, that’s what I get, you know, retired. Ah, shit, that’s a big piece of paper, see? Cuz I don’t fuck around… much, you know?

It pays my rent, I do my business, I have a little money left over, you know, go to church. I love to go to church, you wanna church? I gotta church I go to. The Preacher- let me tell you something, every Easter, he does a hell of a sermon. Reverend Jackson –boy, that nigger preach- you go to his church and on Easter, he does the resurrection. Yeah, he be in a casket- he come out in a casket and he resurrect his ass out the casket. And, they have a rope, they pull him on a rope and he float around like that and does the sermon. Last year the rope broke on his ass and he damn near killed hisself. This year, I hope they spend a little money. I hope they get some piano wire. Something to hold his ass up there, you know. But I like that, I think that’s fascinating, you know. I think kids ought to see that shit. Fuck Disneyland, they oughtta see that motherfucker float around the church. That’s something to behold, I’m telling you.

I don’t do no bad stuff, I’m a regular- I get a little pussy now and then. See now, pussy done went up, you know? I used to get pussy for about $2. You know how much pussy costs nowadays? It costs you $10 and you got to pay 2 for the room. Shit, I’d rather pay $2.00 for the pussy, keep the 10 and fuck outside. And, nowadays it’s different, you know. Them girls will give you that head, you know. That will kill a motherfucker, that head. I paid $10 for some head, it was so good, I damn near killed myself. I said, “Baby, I’ll give you 40 if you quit.” I ain’t lyin’!

Thank you, too. Don’t use any of this shit on T.V. Thank you all very much from my heart, thank you.

Now, here’s the one for the T.V: Hi there, gang! Gosh, gee willikers. You know, I’ve had an interesting life. You know, I remember when I was just a little tyke, you know, and my mom and dad were really uptight, you know. I remember one time that my mom slapped me across the face and my teeth fell out. Boy, what a bummer. I’ll tell ya. I mean, the first time I ever heard my father say ‘darn.’ What a trauma man, wow... because we were Catholic, heeeyyy. But gosh, golly, I just want to tell you I’m having a ball. No double-entendre intended. You know, there was this colored guy that lived down the street from us. One of them had a sled, and I had roller skates, ha HA, ha HA! I know, it’s a knee-slapper, isn’t it? Thank you and good ni-i-ight…

Hey, y’all, you niggers getting tired? Does anyone have a Marlboro... cigarette?

[A voice offstage shouts, "There's a $50 fine for smoking."]

You niggers went for that shit . . .

[Mr. Pryor lights a cigarette and slowly walks off stage.]


[Kill stage lights]


[Pause]


[Raise house lights]



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