Friday, October 22, 2010

L.A. Jail (1976)

Although technically not a Laff release, this deserves inclusion becuase of its similarity in content and context to the other Laff albums. It was released on the Tige Lily label, an offshoot of the Roulette record label, which is best remembered for being financed by Mafia crime-family ties. Tiger Lily was no different, apparently existing for tax and record-pressing scams. Mystery has always surrounded this particular release, as Richard himself is said to have supplied the recording for this album. Whichever way you look at it, everything about it smacks of exploitation and the making of a quick dollar, from the unimaginative cover and album title, to the choice of material.

It starts off fading up while Richard is adjusting the microphone, mumbling, not sounding ready or even interested in being onstage. And on it goes, repeating a few things already found on Are You Serious??? and Who Me? I'm Not Him. The only routine missing is "Black Ben The Blacksmith". The only notable cut on here is a word-for-word routine based on a recent viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he would later (and bizarrely) reference on the "Acid" routine on the Bicentennial Nigger album.

Anyone picking this album up to hear what Richard's early stuff sounded like was sure to have been disappointed and would rightly have them asking how he came to becoming a comedian in the first place!

"Craps" (After Hours) [1971]

Richard's second album, or, a second "first" album. Although I had heard a few bits from this on Richard Pryor's Greatest Hits, I didn't find a copy of this until 1998, when I found it at Turntable Treasures.

Some say that this is his definitive album, some say he was never better, but I look at it as him shedding his old skin again; almost there, but not quite. He seems to veer between the old shyness, and his new found "street tough" direction.

This was his first (and truly only) Laff album, primarily for the black audience, but this album was notorious even then for its poor recording quality. It was recorded at Redd Foxx's own nightclub in L.A.; I wonder if Redd was there that night and gave Richard some influence.

This album was somewhat of a cash cow for Laff over the next twelve years, with various and flat-out bizarre reissues and repackages. Parts of it were coupled with Redd Foxx routines on Pryor Goes Foxx Hunting and Down And Dirty. And then coupled with bits from Richard & Willie as Richard Pryor Meets Richard & Willie And The S.L.A.!!! Parts of it appeared on Supernigger and was repackaged with a new cover and title as Blackjack.

The first thing you notice when the album starts off is the smoky ambience, and then when Richard is talking, it almost sounds like he has a towel wrapped around his microphone for the whole album side. But once it gets going, it has some great parts. My favorite routine is where he gets busted by the cops at night, who tell him: "Up against the wall!...There is no wall!...Find one!"
There are segments from the "Girls" routine sprinkled throughout side one, and a couple of references on side two. Side one closes with routines on various preachers, namely the hillbilly preachers on the radio who announce a local appearance from God himself, the fire-and-brimstone black preacher, and the local street-preaching wino on the corner (no encounter with the junkie here). Richard tells the anecdote about himself running through a Vegas casino naked, jumping up onto a craps table and shouting "Blackjack!".

Side two is a little more clearer, and has some better routines. I like the bit about the cops breaking up the local guys singing on the street corner, and the guys grumble about it after the cops leave: "Move me!...If I didn't have to go to work in the morning...!", leading to loud laughter. The "Craps" routine is good, but would have a more heartfelt look back at the same situation in "Hank's Place"; actually, this was sort of re-created in the otherwise forgettable Harlem Nights.

The last five minutes of side two find Richard in more universal territory, with some hilarious bits about dope, gays, jerking off, cumming and farting (shades of the first album again). The audience is in hysterics, Richard thanks the audience, and the album is over.

Highly recommended companions to this are Live & Smokin' from April 1971 (three months after the recording of this), and his segments from Dynamite Chicken (1972), both of which overlap and contain a lot of similar material between them. Live & Smokin' was filmed at the Improv in New York in April of 1971, and while it has some funny moments, it's best viewed strictly as a historical document. A lot of fans point out the telling moment where RIchard makes a joke about White guys coming by for a visit at his house (which was a brothel), and the nervous pull on his cigarette afterwards speaks volumes. Also, the audience (whom you don't see) was probably more White than anything else, so their silence also speaks volumes...maybe they just didn't get "street" humor, or his material was just too raw for them to handle. Dynamite Chicken, as noted, features a lot of the same routines, but a lot of fans say Richard was plenty coked out during these segments. Personally, these are the only good parts of the whole cinematic collage, and worth picking up for, but it's a movie that's hard to watch without fist-forwarding through a lot of the other material!

Are You Serious??? (1976)

The first Laff release showcasing earlier and (mostly) previously unreleased material. Got this at Golden Oldies in 1997. The cover drawing, with a train zooming over Richard's head, is tied in with Silver Streak. The first half of side one is at the Troubadour, and the rest from P.J.'s. Good recording sound and quality throughout the record. A lot of the shorter bits from the first album are here, but funnier and with more energy. With all due respect, this is much better than the first album, and much more representative of what his early material was like at that time.

Side one opens with a lively organ-trio fanfare, leading to Richard welcoming the audience in a whisper: "I would like to make you laugh, I would like to make you cry, I would like to...make you!". Richard then goes into the bits about his old street gang back in Peoria, the "Girls" routine, war movies, and the submarine pep-talk. He also does "Army Life" from the first album, but the "Kill Class" part of it is much better here, funnier, and with some good variations. The funniest bit is when he talks about the hillybilly guy getting to call cadence while marching in line: "Eenie-meenie-minie-moe! Catch a nig--!", and gets promptly pummeled by the black guys before he can even finish the word!

Side two starts off with his fire-and-brimstone preacher "in the year nineteen twunny-nahhhn!", walking down the street "eatin' a sammich", and running into God himself, who asks for a bite. He goes from that into talking about his two different grandmothers: "One used to give me milk and cookies, and the other used to give me beer and reefer...and needless to say which one I liked the best!". Then there's the "Smells" bit from the first album, followed by "Being Born", probably a more visual routine (and probably not unlike the re-created routine you see him do in Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling ).

The last bit is called "Mankind", kind of a history of the world, zipping by via a string of zingers and one-liners. The oft-remembered line is of the first Thanksgiving, where the head Pilgrim blesses the dinner and asks if everyone is thankful, and asks the same of the person sitting next to him: "Yeah, massuh!". It concludes with JFK's "Ask not what your country" quote melding into the Texas drawl of LBJ: "All men are!. On that note, Richard thanks the audience, the show is over, and so is the album.

Who Me? I'm Not Him (1977)

This is where it started for me. I found a copy of this at Faubion's Fabulous Junk in March 1989, and was hooked from then on. The cover drawing is, I assume, tied in with the film Which Way Is Up?...or from a sketch from The Richard Pryor Show. It's a little odd to look these days, considering that he's up there now (the CD reissue has a forgettable cover, with a later picture of Richard in mirror-image).

The material goes between various recordings from P.J.'s and the Troubadour, but pretty seamlessly, and if you don't listen too closely, it almost sounds like one whole performance on each album side.

Side one starts out with an organ-trio fanfare, and Richard welcoming the crowd, talking with them for a bit. He mentions Peoria, and someone name-checks Aiken Alley, making Richard crack, "That's where the whorehouses are! You were there?". He goes into the anecdote about slipping in dog poo in his front yard while wearing a new cowboy outfit, marking that as his first comedy routine and sums it up: "And I've just been slippin' in shit ever since, trying to make money!".

He goes into routines about growing up as a black child with some funny lines ("I cut a girl's hair off, and pasted it back on...her dress!"), then getting into a street gang as a teenager. Eventually, his being out at night gets him caught and hauled into the police station, and then in front of a "Negro judge", who gives Richard a jail sentence sight-unseen, making Richard silently curse the judge: "I hope you turn White!".

He does the "Highway 16" bit, which shows off Richard's flair for starting a routine where he can take it and run with it any way he could. It starts out with his father asking an old-timer for directions to get to Highway 16, and the old-timer drones on and on about the old days around the town they're stuck in, totally forgetting about the directions he was asked about. This version has a great variation where some people are getting up and walking out wile he's doing the routine, and he throws it in: "You go about six over those people as you're going!".

After that is another routine about the faith healers on the radio, and of Richard's local fire-and-brimstone preacher "in the year nineteen twunny-nahhhn!", this time he runs into God, only in the form of a Sun. During the sermon, he delivers a classic line about money: "The root of all evil, unless you know how to handle it!".

Side two kicks off with another organ fanfare, and soon he's going into "Super Nigger" and the "Farting" routines, which are not much different than on the first album. Then come routines about the Army, war movies, and his impressions of Tarzan and Cheetah. After that is a great routine about Dracula conversing with a brother on the street (early shades of "Wino Dealing With Dracula"). The album side ends with "Frankenstein Taking LSD", only with longer and more inventive "tripping out" noises than on the first album, making the punch line much better. He gets a good round of applause for it, and that's where it fades out.

Black Ben The Blacksmith (1978)

I found this one at Golden Oldies in 1997, after a long dry spell without finding any of the Laff albums for a while. This cover shows Richard as a stablehand, putting a shoe on a horse, which doesn't seem to tie in with any of his movies. Then there was a reissue of this in 1982 with a different album cover and title: "Show Biz".

This would be the start of the Laff albums using different sources for material, often in the middle of a routine, or even before one was over.

"Prison Play" from the first album opens up side one, but nothing new, or anything different. The rest of the album side is also from the Troubadour, but in slightly lesser quality audio. He talks about feeling really energetic and juiced up ("I Feel"), then it cuts into his days growing up with the gangs on the back streets of Peoria, this routine being one where all the smaller guys gather up to watch the bigger guys have it out. Then it goes into a bit about being in jail and getting beaten up by one of the officers for stepping out of the chow line: "He didn't call me a nigger or nothin', 'cause there was a lot of colored cats hangin' around...he said things like, "Y-y-y-you dark person!".

Side two opens up with the opening part of the "Wattstax Monolouge", recorded at the Summit club in 1972, but with laughter edited in from another source, as the original source sounds like there's only a handful of people around him. Then it goes into the "TV Panel Show" routine (under the name "Black Nationalist") from the first album, same edits and all. After that, it goes into the middle of the famous "Wino & Junkie" routine, a bit about an angry father in the the neighborhood warning all the guys to stay away from his daughter, and then a bit about a TV show they used to watch in the old days, featuring an old singing cowboy, accompanying himself with a battered, out-of-tune guitar. (A better version of this can be found on The Wizard Of Comedy ).

The Wizard Of Comedy (1978)

Found this one at Golden Oldies in the summer of 1990, with the cover drawing of Richard's face in place of the Wizard Of Oz (must be tied in with The Wiz , which I haven't watched all the way through--rather, couldn't be bothered to). The CD reissue had a different, even hokier cover drawing of Richard dressed as a wizard.

This one was recorded solely at the Troubadour, although with a rather pesky amount of echo added to the tracks, making it sound like he recorded the routines in an echoey men's room.

Side one open with Richard thanking the crowd and then bantering with them, using corny accents and dialects (something he seemed to do a lot during those shows). He then goes headlong into "Hank's Place", reminiscing about the pool hall he used to sneak into and hang out at, even though he was a bit young to be there. He tells about the local carpenter giving an estimate to Hank on fixing the craps table; Big Black Irma, the local hussy who seems to tell everyone to kiss her ass (a little less harsher here than on the Craps album); Cool Breeze, the hustler who can sell someone anything, mostly by busting on someone who didn't have what he had to sell; Cold Blood, the pimp, and Torsey, the cop who busts in to beat up Cold Blood (who gets a little too mouthy) and to throw Richard out. A great, heartfelt routine.

After a piece on churches (where he compares his fire-and-brimstone preacher to the snooze-inducing White Protestant churches), he does a routine called "Heart & Brain", which is a little odd to listen to, considering how many heart attacks he would have in years to come, and the one that took him from us in the end.

Side two starts out with a routine about being in the elementary-school production of "Rumpelstiltskin", complete with voices of the school principal, and all of the kids in the play (this would have been fun to have watched!). "Worms" sounds like a re-write of Bill Cosby's "Hoof & Mouth" routine off of his first album. The next bit, "Country & Western Show", features an old singing cowboy (early shades of Mudbone) called Hank Tudds, who songs a country/western lament about why he killed a tractor, complete with an out-of-tune guitar to accompany him.

The last bit, "Japanese Movies", is a routine that was probably more of a visual thing that doesn't quite work for just listening to it; it consists mostly of a samurai who has to commit hari-kari. It's interesting to consider that Richard did this many years before John Belushi did this on Saturday Night Live. On that note is where the album ends.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Outrageous (1979)

I bought this from an antique store downtown called The Time Machine on a cold, blustery afternoon in December 1989. This was the second one that I found and bought. This was the first that had a two-sided album cover (those corny liner notes on the back would never be seen again!), this one with Richard behind one of those photo-op cutouts, with his head sticking out above a bodybuilder's body, lifting a huge barbell; on the back, he's clad only in his boxers! I'm thinking that the cover is tied in with The Muppet Movie.

This album is the start of patchy sound and recording quality, mixed in with abrupt and sloppy editing, making for jarring listening. Also, this is the start of the record labels having scant titles for the routines; often where there would be a dozen routines on an album side, there would only be five or six titles shown, and usually not representative.

Side one is mostly from the Troubadour, in varying degrees of recording and sound quality. He starts out very timidly: "Thank you very much, and I would like to...make you...heh-heh-heh...that's what I'd like to do!". He goes on about getting a ticket for the first time, and actually thanking the cop who gave it to him. Then he goes into a routine about a surgeon performing an operation, only it's actually a suit he's been stitching together! Then there's the "Improvisation" bit where he does an imitation of a black man being beaten up by cops during a riot, and the cops say to each other afterward, "Wait, that's not the right one! Ah well, let's go!".

The sound quality improves a bit where he tells about his old street gang getting ready to have a rock and bottle-throwing fight with a rival gang, and almost gets into it with his own guys for copping out and not wanting to do it. Then there's bits about being overseas in Germany, musings on what kind of guy Jesus was, and concludes about wanting to end the show with a bang. He tells the anecdote about stripping down and running through the casino stark naked, but laments "Then you gotta come back and get your clothes. You know, it's embarrassing, because of goose-pimples and you shrink up...[nasal white person's voice] I though Negroes were built better than that!".

Side two is where the cheesiness and choppy editing starts coming in. It starts off with the "I Feel" and "Hit me with a brick!" routines that were heard on Black Ben The Blacksmith , only slightly edited down a little bit. The best bits are about Terry Austin, the neighborhood tough-guy who gets the snot beaten out of him by a wino, whom they pay off with a bottle of wine; there's another "Highway 16" routine, very imaginatively done, this time with a truckload of feathers that got jack-knifed, and then Dracula and the brother on the street (we finally find out why Dracula doesn't like dark meat here!).

The rest of the album side is filled with the poorest-recorded material on any of the Laff albums. It cuts into the middle of a rendition of "Mankind", but with some interesting variations that include Moses, Julius Caesar, and even Frank Sinatra ("Aw, he'll never make it--he's too skinny!"). Then it cuts into a rendition of "Heart And Brain" and "Playboy Club", whereupon it cuts abruptly into loud applause from a different recording, and then fades out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Insane (1980)

I found this one at Golden Olides in the summer of 1999, still sealed. I hadn't found any of the Laff albums for a while at this point, and this was one I had definitely never seen anywhere. The cover drawing is of Richard standing in a padded cell, in a straightjacket (was this supposed to be tied in with Stir Crazy ?).

Side one starts off nicely with bits on growing up in Peoria. I like how he describes it: "Whatever you think about when you hear the name, that's what it's like!...One person threw up!". He talks about his early-morning exercise routine, and goes into a bit about the school bully, on whom he and some buddies get revenge on by overloading the barbell he's going to lift up during a school assembly (this was performed on a few TV appearances, and seemed to be a favorite bit to some).

Then it goes into some poorly-recorded but funny bits about New York subways, bad Coke machines ("your Coke comes pouring out, with no cup!"), and the dirty movies playing on 42nd Street. He talks about the then-popular nudie adventure movies, playing for an audience of guys with coats in their laps who get angry when the movie is found laughable: "Dont'cha have any ruh-spect!?!?". The last bit is about a woman who comes onto him in a Chicago hotel room; Take off your clothes, she purrs, and Richard does, and "she put them on, and left!".

Side two finds Richard at some pretty strange/unfamiliar venues, or in front of audiences who didn't get him. It starts out with him telling one-liners, accompanied by a pianist (!?!?!?), using a Jackie Mason-type accent, and the audience isn't terribly interested. Then it cuts into another set in front of an unruly audience, and he's not going over very well with the audience, or they just don't get the material. The rest of the side comes from the Troubadour, with his fire-and-brimstone preacher/faith-healer closing the album, but using the same bits from Who Me? I'm Not Him .

Monday, October 18, 2010

Holy Smoke! (1980)

A personal favorite, this one. I found the cassette copy of this on Halloween of 1990 for two dollars at the Hill-Top Pawn Shop. I didn't go trick-or-treating or coke out on candy or watch any horror movies that night, I just put this one in and spent the evening with Richard.

Side one is mostly from P.J.'s in 1968. Richard is in a very silly mood on this recording, but obviously having fun onstage and with the audience, with whom he banters with throughout most of that set. He does one bit, like a Shakespearean-type "prove your love to me" scene, and compares it to what it would be like in the present day; he drops a small F-bomb during the bit, and laughs almost sheepishly about having even said it.

There's also another funny bit about trying to make a great speech, but finds that what he's trying to say turns into complete incoherent mush. After that is a short, poorly-recorded segment, mostly about TV commercials about toys, mouthwash and deodorant, which sound a lot like routines from George Carlin's Take-Offs And Put-Ons LP. Then we're back at P.J.'s, where Richard closes his set by making a speech, which again collapses into incoherent blabber, but then tries to start up a sing-along, sneaking in phrases like "up your ass" and "screw the world", which gets a lot of laughs, and it's over.

Side two is mostly from the Troubadour. After a small musing on the invention of the chair, he goes into "T.V. Panel Show" (re-named "Talk Show"), but this is pretty much the fullest and most uncut version out there (it runs about eleven minutes). Among the restored parts include when the host says, "But first, a word from our...No?...well, we begin the conversation!"; we also hear Miss Hazel Dumpwood's story about how she found God (sounds like she did a lot of drugs!) and at the end of the bit, when the host signs off, he says, "And remember our motto....". There is none, the show is now over, and so is the bit.

There's also another piece about some Whitey old-timers reminiscing about the year 1968, and the fun they had about giving blacks a hard time, and the subsequent Watts riots. The album side ends, somewhat stupidly, with Richard making a bunch of corny mouth-noises, sort of like the "Being Born" or "Frankenstein Taking LSD" bits, but then cuts into loud applause in the middle of it, and the album is finished.

The album cover drawing, with smoke shooting from Richard's ears while he has a surprised look on his face, is kind of corny, but doesn't seem to have anything to do with his movies. There was an album from Laff by Richard & Wille called Richard's Firecracker , with a drawing of a black man running down the street while on fire. I'm just glad that wasn't the cover for this one!

Rev. Du Rite (1981)

I found this one at 2nd Time Around in 1999, buried amongst the ninety-nine cent and twenty-nine cent albums that nobody seemed to want, and that they couldn't even give away. Their "comedy" section was buried among these unwanted slabs of wax. The cover drawing, I assume, is tied in with Marty Feldman's 1981 film In God We Tru$t.

Despie the rather abrupt splices in the opening, side one starts out promising, with familiar-sounding bits about neighborhood girls, the hillbilly calling cadence, and his father with the X-ray vision. But when it gets to the title track, the speed of the tape mastering is way out of hand, and too fast-sounding (wasn't someone monitioring this?). The same thing happens with the closer, "Boobs", a rather experimental courtroom-drama bit.

Sandwiched between those two is a great bit about watching dogs get stuck end-to-end, and watching circus elephants "letting it all hang out". Following that is a bit of a guy who needs to go to the pay-toilet, but doesn't have a nickel, and trying to beg one from a kid, and then the kid's dad, but then it's too late!!!

Side two sounds like it's pretty much from one set, but very muffled-sounding all the way through. There's no energy in any of the bits, which seem to not go anywhere, save for the last bit (shades of Lenny Bruce), about a jealous guy interrogating his wife about a mysterious book of matches, the toilet seat being left up, and at the end tells her that she can leave if she doesn't like it: "Wait, where are you going? You can't leave!". Cuts abruptly to audience clapping, and a fast fade-out.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that this album won the Grammy that year for Best Comedy Album. I really don't see how!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Supernigger (1983)

The worst. The absolute worst. This one was obviously slapped together to cash in on the release of Superman III , hence the cover art and the title (how'd they get away with that one, anyway? They should have known he'd sworn off using that word!). I only have the cassette of this (bought at 2nd Time Around), with just the back-cover drawing of Richard as a pimp, touching down in a big ol' white pimp-wagon Caddy.

This one has cuts from Craps (After Hours) and what seems like bits from Black Ben The Blacksmith and The Wizard Of Comedy. The main offender is the editing at the end of the title cut; just when the excited white person happily cries out "It's Super Nigger!", the recording cuts off into laughs, and then onto the next segment.

Nothing "new" or interesting on this one, no rhyme or reason, just a slab of wax to cash in on with.

Richard Pryor Live! (1983)

I found this one, still sealed, at Golden Oldies in October of 2010. This was the final Laff release, and--oddly enough--completes my collection. By the cover graphics, it's trying to look like an official release (shades of Here And Now), but the cover drawing of Richard keeps it in the amateur section.

This one is a bizarre cross between repackage and ripoff. The first half of each album side contains material from previous albums, while at the same time, presenting material from a release also titled Richard Pryor Live! , an album on the exploito label Phoenix 10. I've seen it around, with a poorly-processed head shot of Richard on the front cover, and was also released as a picture disc.

Side one kicks of with "Black Ben The Blacksmith/Prison Play" (uh-gain!), only this time, the tape source sounds really flat here. The remaining eleven minutes come from the other Live! album, coming from the Troubadour. Richard's fire-and-brimstone preacher is here, with the ever-hilarious tale about eatin' a sammich "in the year nineteen-twunny-naaaaahhnnn!" (though there is a funny variation where the preacher is trying to hit on one of the ladies who comes up to be healed!). There's also a good bit about a lineup at the police station, with a car thief who has every excuse in the book about why he was caught stealing a car. The last bits are about war movies, and movie stars going to the bathroom. No differences in these performances.

Side two consists mostly of side two from The Wizard Of Comedy, all the way up through "Country & Western Show". The last seven minutes are from P.J.'s, and here's where it gets weird---the bits pick up just where we left them on side one! He tells of the game about "who can poo-poo in their pants the most", but then it goes into the same bits from before about movies stars in the bathroom, war movies, and then the submarine routine. Even though it's two different recordings from two different venues, it's jarring to hear the same routines almost back to back.

This was Laff's final Richard Pryor release, and it's not too hard to see why. Two years later, the label itself would be history.

Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974) [2005]

I came across this one by accident at Circuit City in November of 2005, and I didn't even know it was out. I picked it up and was amazed that not only did it consist of a lot of early stuff, but was endorsed by Richard himself. The 2-CD set went to the cash-register with me.

It's divided into two distinct halves: the early, experimental years of 1966-68, and the "street humor" years of 1971-74, where he finally sheds off his old skin and became the Richard Pryor we all knew and loved.

Disc One opens with Richard at the hungry i in San Francisco, sounding like any ordinary standup comedian of the times, relating safe, sanitized tales of growing up in Peoria, but the audience seems to be merely tolerating him. Then the set veers between sets recorded at P.J.'s and the Troubadour, but this time in vastly sound-improved and unedited routines that came from some of the Laff albums. And then some of them were different versions altogether, making them a real treat. It was great to hear "Hank's Place" unedited, which is a revelation; he gets a major round of applause when he does his imitation of Black Irma, which was well-deserved. Plus, his classic fire-and-brimstone preacher bit, and the old-timer relating tales whilst forgetting directions to Highway 16.

Disc Two consists mostly of Craps (After Hours) , which was a little disappointing (I would have preferred more unreleased stuff), but the sound is a lot cleaner here, and a major improvement, even for something that was poorly recorded to begin with. Then it has the "Wattstax" monolouge, uncut and unedited, which has some great bits throughout it. My favorite part is an alternate version of "Super Nigger", especially the part where Supe takes his sweet time choosing what kind of crime-fighting gear he's going to wear that day while disaster is happening.

The real piece of treasure for me was "Street Corner Wino" (recorded at The Comedy STore in 1973), in which the street wino has a conversation with one of the local hoods, who tells him the story of how he robbed and beat up a white farmer guy looking for some easy tail in the alley. It's so outrageously hilarious that it's easily the funniest thing Richard ever laid down on tape. I won't give away any of the story have to hear it to believe it.

On December 1st, I e-mailed Richard, wishing him a happy birthday, telling him about the new CD, and thanking him for all of the great laughs I had listening to his albums and watching his movies over the last 25 years. I like to think that he got it and read it, but I guess I'll never know. He left us nine days later.