Divine Comedy: 25 Best Stand-Up Specials and Movies

From classic HBO specials to arena-comic concert flicks, these bits continue to crack us up

Load Previous

1. 'Richard Pryor: Live in Concert' (1979)

"This is what every comic is striving for and we all fall very short," Chris Rock wrote on his website of this landmark movie. "It's the perfect concert." When comedian Patton Oswalt first saw it, he claimed it "woke up more shit in my head than most other movies I'd seen...the idea that you could see a [film]  that was just someone talking — that was new." Ecstatic, wild, profane and full of life, the hour and a half of Live in Concert is an eruption of astute observation, biting social critique, explosive physical bits and Pryor personifying everything from car tires to his heart attack. The comic dominates the stage and his audience throughout, whether confessing his drug habits and marital issues, drawing out long, gentle moments — like the one that showcases his impression of a suddenly frightened deer — or hammering home one-liners. (Such as the one regarding his dad, who died while having sex: "My father came and went at the same time.") As the first, full-length stand-up concert film, it's a milestone. As a document of Pryor firing on all pistons, it's both peerless and invaluable. ML

Back to Top