When Richard Pryor took the stage at a small New York stand up club back in April 1971, his white liberal audience didn't know what had hit them. The raw young comic delivered a no hold barred performance, aggressively daring people to react.
'Live And Smoking' is an astonishing record of how arguably the world's greatest comedian started honing his skills. Visibly nervous, Pryor nevertheless leaves himself wide open (as he did throughout his career), producing shocked silences when discussing sleeping with white women and giving men oral sex. But when he slips into the characters - of the now infamous - 'Wino Preacher' and 'Willy The Junkie' the audience stops mattering to him. Pryor produces heart-wrenching, closely observed portraits that are almost to painful to watch, but are the mark of a genius storyteller.