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Accordion Guy Advent Calendar, Day Eleven: Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase’s "Word Association" Skit from Saturday Night Live

If you were a friend of mine in the 1980s, there would come a time when

I’d tell this joke: I’d strike a match and then use it to mimic a man

screaming in unbearable pain. I’d go: “Who’s this? Richard Pryor.”

While he

shouldn’t be a role model for one’s life, anyone who wants crack wise

about society should make it a point to study his work. At the age of

16, after having been floored by a Betamax dub of Eddie Murphy’s

stand-up routine in Delirious

— yes, kids, he was funny once — I decided to go to the source and

check out recordings by Pryor, who was one of his biggest influences.

I remember once reading that black comedians’ two classic role models:

Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. I would like to add to that observation

by saying that too much Cosby and too little Pryor makes you pretty

lame: just look at Sinbad.

(In Eddie Murphy’s stand-up film Raw,

Murphy would recall a story about how Cosby phoned him, complaining

about the profinity in his act. Murphy said that Pryor called him

later, advising Murphy to tell Cosby to “have a coke and a smile, and shut the fuck up!“).

Considering the pretty stupid outfits that a lot of stand-up comedians wear onstage, Pryor’s a pretty sharp dresser.

Thirty years ago tomorrow, Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase performed what is now known as the “Word Association Skit” on Saturday Night Live.

The setting for the skit was a job interview with Pryor as the

interviewee and Chase as the interviewer. The scene opens with Chase

announcing that the final step of the test would be a word asssociation

test: Chase would say a word and Pryor was to respond with the first

word that came to mind. As the test progresses, Chase’s test words get

increasingly racist, and Pryor responds in kind. I loved this routine

to death — so much that I used to perform it with some friends, in

which we substituted black slurs for Asian ones — and here it is, for your amusement [2.2MB, MP3, Not safe for work — racial epithets galore].

So long, Richard, and thanks for all the laughs.

One reply on “Accordion Guy Advent Calendar, Day Eleven: Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase’s "Word Association" Skit from Saturday Night Live”

It may not be safe for work, but it was safe enough that CBS Sunday Morning featured the skit uncensored as part of their tribute to Richard Pryor yesterday.


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