The manuscript for Film and the American Presidency ran into a due date, and as has been the case throughout the project, Jeff Menne is the source of good things happened. He’s the headliner of our editor pair.

Amongst my chapter responsibilities was Diane Rubenstein, who wrote a chapter on President Obama’s avatars not as presidents on films, but a film-industrial turn to questions of chattel slavery. For me, the highlight comes during her set-up, when she does an extended reading of a skit from the old Richard Pryor Show in which President Pryor holds a press conference. 

My reasons for enjoying her analysis begin with the analysis itself, but then my biography takes over. When I was seven years old, I found some of my dad’s less-frequently-played albums, most notably the George Carlin and Richard Pryor records. It is no stretch to say the most important texts to my current life are (in something like rank order) Class Clown, Occupation: Foole, An Evening With Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slaszo and FM & AM.

The more forbidden pleasure was Richard Pryor’s That Nigger’s CrazyI remember the first time I listened to “Wino & Junkie” I didn’t understand what a junkie was, but I could register the bleakness of the humour.

I would try every one of the Carlin routines out not only on my primary school classmates (the seven words routine killed at both Sunnyhill and Hough Street) but also on the women who ran Saint Monica’s CCD (and even the priests). (I also love that St Monica’s has “cville” in their url. Glorious.)  Carlin was reachable – I parroted his material. At some point one of the CCD people must have told my parents that I was doing Carlin’s material because my dad told me one day, watching a Packer game (while we listened to Max and Jim on WTMJ), that it was fine if I wanted to tell George Carlin jokes, but I was never to repeat any of the Richard Pryor routines. Ever.

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