Brow Beat

Richard Pryor’s Darkly Perfect Bit on Police Chokeholds

In the past month, in cities across the nation, people protested the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two casualties of a troubling spate of police violence. Such incidents aren’t new, and, as John Lurie pointed out on Twitter, Richard Pryor actually did a flawless bit on the police chokehold—the exact method by which Garner was killed—all the way back in 1978.*

This is Pryor at his best—incredibly dark, but so spot-on you have to laugh with him. His social commentary was always excellent, but it’s proved to be strangely prescient as well.

Update, Nov. 4, 2015: This clip has been removed by request.

*Correction, Dec. 6, 2014: This article originally misstated that Pryor’s bit was from 1977. It was performed in 1978, and featured in 1979’s Richard Pryor: Live in Concert.