Monday, December 12, 2005

Just a few thoughts...

... on the passing of comic genius Eugene McCarthy and everyman's politician Richard Pryor. Or is it the other way around? Double obits, unfortunately timed as they are, can be a little confusing. But first, on Pryor: The man took scatalogical humor to a whole new level. I mean he really, um, pushed it. For that, I pay him homage. Pryor also starred in great films (at least I liked them) such as Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, The Toy, and, best of all, Brewster's Millions. (The Toy is notable for not only matching Pryor with Jackie Gleason but also child-star Scott Schwartz, who later starred in New Wave Hookers 5 and The Wrong Snatch. Incidentally, Schwartz's character's name in The Toy? Master Eric Bates.)

Where was I? Oh right, Eugene McCarthy. He ran for president before I was born and his leanings aren't exactly mine. But I did get a chance to hear him speak some 13 years ago at Georgetown. My friend and I went to the reception that followed, heading right for the hors d'oeuvres table. Suddenly the senator came up on us, placed his hands on our shoulders, and said, "I remember the kids on my campaign. They always came for the free food too."

And right he was.


Anonymous said...

Clean Gene actually belived America was a nation, not an economy, and that people were not commodities in service of that economy. He also had the balls to speak against mass third-world immigration, something most people in D.C. are terrified to do.

Jay D. Homnick said...

The best write-up of a campaign event ever in human history is James Jackson Kilpatrick's 500-word description of a fundraising dinner for McCarthy in 1968. If you have that National Review anthology of the first twenty-five years, it's in there.

One line, from memory, read approximately thus: "All the men wore bowties and all the women were 36."

As for Pryor, my favorite is See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and one of the great movie scenes of all time is Gene Wilder facing down Joan Severance.

The thing about Pryor is that he was first and foremost a nice guy. He managed to do a whole white-man-black-man rap without evincing hostility.

Brian Moore said...

Homnick makes a good point about Pryor - for all his bluster, he was a fundamentally decent guy, though plagued by demons.

Look to his stand-up material, admirably compiled in "And It's Too Deep: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings," for the gut-busting stuff. The movies don't come close.

That it's still funny is an achievement. Stand-up ages faster than bread.

miklos rosza said...

A couple years ago, when my wife was first over here from France, a Richard Pryor stand-up mvie came on cable -- one after he'd been burned. I called out "You've got to see this!" even though, at 29, she'd never heard of him.

Well, she and I laughed so hard it hurt. He was a genius.

I only hope his last few years were not too hard, given that he had MS.