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Black Is the New White Paperback – July 6, 2010
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I'm sliding into a booth in a coffee shop on Santa Monica Boulevard, slapping the table to wake Richard Pryor from his hangover nod.
"Man," I say to him, "I just saw a lady so pretty, somebody should suck her daddy's dick for a job well done."
Richard stares at me. Early afternoon, too early for Richard. I smell the brandy he doses his coffee with. He is a little slowed-down by all the poisons in his blood, but even slowed-down Richard Pryor is quicker than any other human being on earth.
He laughs. I'm not saying Richard just laughs like an ordinary person laughs. I mean he laughs. His face lights up like a Times Square billboard and his whole body wags like a dog happy to see its owner.
You know you can die happy when you can make Richard Pryor laugh. It's this huge blast of appreciation, hipness, and intelligence. He gets it. His laugh is like ripping open a bag of joy, letting loose a storm that blows you head over heels. It is that powerful.
The greatest comics -- and Richard is bar none the greatest -- always have the greatest laughs.
Later on, as the hard living takes its toll and the MS takes over, most of Richard's laughs will turn into fits of coughing, as though he's trying to hack up his liver. But a Richard Pryor laugh is still and always will be like getting a high five from God.
California yellow sun and Pacific blue sky. That September day in 1968, Richard and I are in Duke's Coffee Shop, the original one, in the old Tropicana Motel. Two dudes, two dudes, like Richard starts one of his routines. We are the only black guys who can make the scene in Hollywood. We are groundbreakers, accepted at all the clubs, invited to all the parties. When we break into it, Hollywood is still a closed, racist town. The place has never seen anybody like us. We are fearless. We go everywhere. We break down barriers. We still get harassed by bigots and cheated by the system, but it never stops us.
Later that night my wife, Yvonne, gets dressed up and we go to Troubadour on Santa Monica to hear Richard perform his stand-up routine. He's a different comic when I am in the audience. He hears my laugh and he shifts gears, elevating his act to a higher, edgier level. I can tell he is trying to make me laugh, but I'm not going to give it up that easy. I make him work for it. He pushes himself.
From the stage of the Troub that night, I hear Richard do the line I gave him earlier in Duke's coffee shop.
"Coming here tonight, I saw a woman so motherfucking beautiful gorgeous that it made me want to suck her daddy's dick for a job well done."
The joke kills. The way Richard tells it, it kills. The audience practically vomits laughter.
Later that same night -- or is it early morning by then? -- Richard tells me to hold my arm out.
"Just hold it out, motherfucker."
He slips a watch on my wrist. A good watch -- I can feel its heavyweight mass on my arm -- a $10,000 beauty. The kind of watch you call a timepiece.
"What's this for?"
"The bit," he says.
"What bit?" I play dumb.
"The suck-her-father's-dick bit."
"Oh, that," I say. "That's just you and me talking. I could hardly tell if you were awake when I told you that."
"Take the fucking watch. You don't like it, motherfucker, sell it. Take the money, Mr. Mooney."
He always calls me that. Mr. Mooney. Off that character on the The Lucy Show.
I take the watch.
The funniest man on the face of the earth wants me to write for him. It begins to click. I think: This thing we have, this Batman-and-Robin thing, can somehow turn into something that means money and good times for both of us. I toss lines to Richard. He puts them out to the audience. The audience flings money at him. Richard throws money at me.
The truth is, it's never about the money for me. I love Richard. I am his biggest fan. I get off on him doing one of my jokes. It means so much to me. I want Richard to be happy and to succeed. My loyalty is to Richard, and my relationship with him is authentic, as though he is my brother. On all of Richard's albums, you can hear me laugh. I always laugh long and loud.
Those first days together in 1968 are the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Copyright © 2009 by Louis Get's On My Nerves, Inc --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Paul Mooney's work and analysis on America is some of the most important analysis out there. This book gave a sincere and candid look "behind the curtain" as Mooney writes, into his life in Louisiana and Oakland, discovering his talents and self-confidence, and breaking into Hollywood on his own terms, much of that with his right hand man Richard Pryor.
There's a lot more to write about, but I certainly can't do it justice. Buy this book and educate yourself about Paul Mooney. America will be better off for it!!
Second thing. It's not all about him. This is more a book about Richard Pryor than it is about Paul Mooney. And given that Pryor was his best friend and collaborator, means that the book is worth a read. Mooney is surprisingly honest and "real" about Pryor's personal life, given that he obviously has enormous affection for the man. That fact alone means Mooney did a great job on the book.
The only thing I wish the book had was more detail. There's a lot of surface area covered and there would definitely be room to expand and for Mooney to go deeper.
I'm not asking for lurid details or a "tell all" trashy autobiography -- just a bit more "heart" to go with the reportage. For example, when the death of his son is covered less than half a page, and the death of Pryor on two pages - you have to ask yourself why we don't get more detail. He does a great, insightful (and emotionally affecting) job of talking about Pryor burning himself up but seems to pull his punches on a few other areas that could be fleshed out.
But to close this review let me go back to what I said at the top. Read this book, you won't regret it.
He discusses his rich history with Richard Pryor and a host of other comedians (both old and new). I did not know that his career and journey was so deep and extensive. He is a living legend and full of history when it comes to the old greats like Moms Mabley, Flip Wilson, Red Foxx and others. This book was long overdue.
His experience with racism all during his life comes through in his jokes and stories. It was his life experience be it good or bad and he has the absolute right to deal with it anyway he chooses. I enjoyed the information on the old days when various musical stars crashed at his apartment, his grandmothers' wisdom, how Huey P. Newton of the Black Panthers became his friend, the whole Richard Pryor & Dave Chappele experience, his Hollywood journey of working on scripts etc., and the story about working at a department store with the future Mrs. Aaron Spelling.
Paul Mooney's life has been in living color and you will enjoy. It is a worthy read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mooney strikes GOLD. Paul Mooney is interesting and intelligent beyond comic wisdom. Couldn't put it down!Published 18 days ago by Sheila kellyfirment
A good look at the entertainment industry and the life of Mr. Moody.Published 3 months ago by ccharlene214
I like his rawness. It's refreshing and he's unapologetically outspoken about his experiences. In this book, he gives a history lesson of he and Richard Pryor's rise to fame. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Love Paul but the book is surprisingly amateurish, especially for a seasoned writer. That said, it wasn't a bad read and some parts were incisive and insightful.Published 4 months ago by imissmymom
If u like Paul mooney you will Love this book it has further details of the relationship between Richard Pryor in the early days in his life but it's still very much like one of... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Tuna Smith