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Crosscurrents

"Becoming Richard Pryor": new biography by UC Berkeley Associate Professor Scott Saul

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Richard Pryor got famous for his radical, racially-charged humor in the early 70’s. But the comedian didn’t start out this way. Back in the 60's, Pryor's most famous sketch was a mock grade-school production of Rumpelstiltskin.

So how did Richard Pryor’s comedy evolve from the rather tame Rumpelstiltskin bit to the edgier stuff most of us know him for? That’s what UC Berkeley's Scott Saul investigates in his new biography of the comedian, "Becoming Richard Pryor". The Associate Professor of English sat down with KALW’s Chris Hoff. They spoke about the influence the Bay Area had on the comedian's work during seven months Pryor lived in Berkeley.

SCOTT SAUL: I think he learned at Berkeley it’s best to disrespect borders. 

Clicke the audio player above to listen to the complete interview.