Posted by Ross
When I was an assistant working on "The Norm Macdonald Show", the writers did a cold open with Pryor. Norm plays this social worker, and he's doing an intake with Pryor's charcter, who, of course, can barely move. And yet, every time Norm turns his back, Pryor physically attacks him, and then, when he turns back, he's back in his chair. It was funny and cartoonish, and sort of sad too.
While they were getting ready to shoot the scene, I went out to Pryor's place in the Valley with wardrobe stuff or something. This was '99. It was such a surreal experience, being in Richard Pryor's living room, with all these framed photos of his comedy glory days.
There were like three nurses taking care of him, and Pryor was sitting at his dining room table, just looking completely zonked out. He had to take a lot of medication just to get himself to do that scene, but I saw him in what I figured was probably his usual state. They were feeding him some mashed up food and I guess I just felt a little embarassed. Like I was spying on a man at his most vulnerable of moments.
When I think back to this moment, I realize he was probably considerably more alert and with it than I had assumed at the time. And I wish I would've at least been able to say, while I was sitting there on his couch, watching him eat his mush, how much I admired him, how I grew up loving his work, something, anything. But I didn't.
And then I got the wardrobe sizes from one of the nurses, took one last glance at that great man, and left.