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Richard Pryor: Icon

Richard directing the movie "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling.”
Courtesy of ©Photoshot
Richard directing the movie "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling.”

Stream now or tune in Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Stream now with KPBS Passport!

Survey the profound and enduring influence of one of the greatest American comics of all time.

“Richard Pryor: Icon” tells the story of the groundbreaking entertainer who changed the rules of comedy.

From his troubled upbringing in the slums of Peoria, Illinois, to his brave battle against multiple sclerosis, from performing on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW to being banned by the networks, the program examines the roller coaster life and times of this comedic trailblazer.

Richard Pryor: Icon: Preview

Though he was one of the most successful and influential entertainers of his generation, Pryor wrestled with self-destructive behaviors that threatened his life. The special explores Pryor’s transformation from a straight-laced comedian to one of the most controversial and thought-provoking acts of his time.

After walking off stage during a sold-out Las Vegas show, fed up with being forced to limit his self-expression, Pryor took a two-year sabbatical. He returned to the comedy scene a raw and unfiltered performer — and changed comedy forever.

Sex, drugs, race…nothing was off limits. As he was more honest with himself, and his audience, the laughs grew even bigger. Pryor opened the door for other comedians to inject social commentary and other once-verboten topics into their humor.

“Richard Pryor: Icon” features interviews with close personal friends and comedians he influenced, including Tracy Morgan and George Lopez.

Richard Pryor American actor and comedian.
Courtesy of Starstock/Photoshot
Richard Pryor American actor and comedian.

“Richard Pryor is an important figure in modern American cultural history. He is one of the most influential performers of our time and PBS is excited to show our audience why,” says Bill Gardner, Vice President, Programming and Development, PBS. “These types of stories should be told — stories that are both challenging and thought-provoking.”

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This program is available to stream on demand with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.


The program is produced by Outpost Entertainment, part of Leftfield Entertainment, an ITV Studios company, for PBS.