Richard Pryor: Teetering on Jest, Living by His Wit

By Frederick D. Murphy Encore American & World News November 24, 1975 Richard Pryor may be the funniest, if not the most obscene, comedian in the world. On stage, he exploits all the social norms and taboos. The most intimate moments of human behavior are laid...

The Hollow Clown

By Alfred Bester Show January, 1964 Every show reflects the character and quality of its star. When you enter the Perry Como studio, the atmosphere is warm and friendly, and total strangers will come up and tell you about their kids. The Sid Caesars were kicky and...

Jerry Lewis, Birthday Boy

By O’Connell Driscoll Playboy January 1974 “And then they say, ‘Now, ladies and gentlemen, here’s the star of our show,’ and we both come out and go for the microphone, and you grab it and start right in, ‘Good evening, folks, it’s so great to be here in Miami,’ and I...

Will the Next Lenny Bruce Please Speak Up?

By Robert Ward GQ August, 1984 I remember everything about the first time I heard Lenny Bruce. I was filing records in the Modern Music House in Baltimore, Maryland. They were Miles Davis records, and I was putting yet another copy of his masterpiece, Kind of Blue, in...

Mr. Mike’s America

By Paul Slansky Playboy March 1983 It was a time when people walked the nation’s streets with orange-foam pads clamped to their ears and antennae bouncing above their heads. The newspapers of the day told of several thousand men and women who had allowed themselves to...

Shandling Agnosites

By Gerri Hirshey GQ February 1997 Garry Shandling is worrying a piece of plain chicken (no skin, no sauce, no guilt) with a plastic fork. The tines quiver with indecision (eat? talk? eat and talk and risk having a meteor of thigh meat land on those dry-cleaned jeans …...

At Large with Bill Murray

By Harold Conrad Smart July/August 1989 “In the end, everything is a gag.” —Charlie Chaplin It is 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday in January. Bill Murray has just driven his Jeep from Malibu to Palm Springs. I am waiting in his suite at Maxim’s de Paris, an ultrafancy spot in...

Eddie Murphy Is on Top of the World

By Peter W. Kaplan Playboy January 1983 Eddie Murphy, a man of 21 years, has a check for $45,000 in his back pocket, a manager with tinted sunglasses standing near the bar, a producer from a Hollywood studio watching him from the door, a sound-and-video crew recording...

The Risible Fantasies of Gilbert Gottfried

By Peter Mehlman GQ July 1987   “Gilbert, my God, you look great!” “Jesus, Gilbert, that suit looks amazing on you.” “It’s the suit they gave him on the Cosby Show!” “Gillie! I got hold of the Cinemax special—it’s, it’s … beautiful!” “Gillie, who’s doing your...

David Letterman, the Vice-President of Comedy

By Peter W. Kaplan Esquire December 1981 I have no troubles that I can’t tell standing up and to several million people at once.—Jack Paar When David Letterman enters a small club, other young comics make way for him, and although he moves among them, he is separate....

The Chinese Gourmet Club

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader Here’s something fun. From Kenneth Tynan’s lavish 1977 New Yorker profile of Mel Brooks (available online only to New Yorker subscribers though you can also find it in Tynan’s wonderful collection, Profiles): After separating from his...

How Pryor Put Cosby Behind Him

By Scott Saul From Becoming Richard Pryor 2014 When Richard Pryor first came on the national scene in the mid ’60s, he was a comic who consciously followed the blueprint established by Bill Cosby. Never mind that Pryor, even when he was doing a clean act, lacked...