Archive for Thalmus Rusalala

Richard Pryor & Gil Scott-Heron: 12/13/75

Posted in 1975-1976 with tags , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Erin

This particular episode of Saturday Night seems to be heavily tailored to host Richard Pryor’s comic sensibilities. Rather than Pryor merely participating in performing the sketches, many of the show’s sketches seem to revolve around the topics of Pryor’s standup: Race and Class. When I looked up this episode at SNL Transcripts, I realized this wasn’t an accident:

In order to get Richard Pryor to host the show, producer Lorne Michaels had to meet Pryor’s demands: Gil Scott-Heron (a groundbreaking artist in his own right) had to be a musical guest on the show; actor Thalmus Rasulala and his ex-wife Shelley (also the mother of Pryor’s daughter, Rain) must also be allowed to make appearances on the show. In 1975, Pryor was at the top of his game and this was only Saturday Night‘s seventh episode, so Pryor was able to bend Michaels’ resolve.

The result, in my opinion, was Saturday Night‘s best show up to this point. This episode is incredibly cohesive in tone, well-paced, and well written from beginning to end with some help from Pryor and his collaborator, Paul Mooney. Readers may recognize Paul Mooney from Chappelle’s Show:

Video: Paul Mooney as Negrodamus

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