I can remember being 10 years old, sitting in my front room, with my mixed family around me. I remember sitting in awe as they all collapsed into laughter. Richard Pryor danced about the screen, doing an impression of a deer trying to drink from a lake while being nervous. I couldn’t believe that this one man, on a stage alone, was making not only a room full of people laugh, but my family, who never all sat down and so vehemently agreed on the same thing. It was absolutely incredible.

Archie Maddocks by Tom Leishman

Archie Maddocks by Tom Leishman

Richard Pryor, for me, is the best, most tender, most honest, most natural stand-up comedian I’ve ever seen. His searing honesty, coupled with hilarious routines and turns of phrase remain unparalleled. If I come across his routine somewhere, I’ll actively stop what I’m doing to sit in gaze in wonder. Honestly, I’ve had to pull over a car while driving on a motorway because I’ve thought of one of his routines and not been able to hold myself together – the people in the car that I was driving became very nervous because it seemed that I’d suddenly become an unhinged, cackling maniac.

I’ve always been fascinated by pain – and to see it reflected in such a joyous way has always made me happy. Life is pain, but your reaction to it is what can make it palatable. I mean, yeah, you can sit and wallow in whatever is going wrong – everyone has their thing that affects them – but when I would watch Pryor perform, it would give me the sense that nothing bad it too bad, nothing is too insurmountable to overcome, no matter how bad it was. His level of emotional nakedness has always been interesting to me – especially having grown up in good old repressed England.

I honestly think he could make anything funny. One of my favourite films of all time is Stir Crazy – and he was at his best in this film. Whether it’s being so tired so you mistake another man’s leg for yours, or not being able to climb in to bed to get your pillow, everything that he does strikes me to the core – and fills me with joy.

I think that comedians are essentially a type of musician. They tell you what they’re going to do, which is to make you laugh. But then again, laughter is an involuntary action, so the fact that you know you’re going to laugh has taken away the surprise – so when they can still make you laugh – I think that’s a form of magic. Richard Pryor is the greatest sorcerer that has ever existed.

Archie Maddocks performs ‘Big Dick Energy’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Just The Tonic (The Mash House) from Thursday 1st August – Sunday 25th August at 4.50pm.

(Direct Link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/archie-maddocks-big-dick-energy)