Paul Mooney, Trailblazing Comedian and Richard Pryor Collaborator, Dies at 79
He was known for his boundary-pushing routines about racism and social justice and for his work with Pryor and on “In Living Color” and “Chappelle’s Show.” Read HERE.
How Paul Mooney made SNL a cultural phenomenon with one legendary Richard Pryor-Chevy Chase sketch
By Bethonie Butler May 20, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. EDT
In 1975, a new sketch comedy show was reaching the midway point of its first season on NBC. “Saturday Night,” as it was then known, had premiered with George Carlin as its inaugural host, followed by turns from celebrities including Rob Reiner, Candice Bergen and Lily Tomlin. The fledgling series was in need of a ratings boost, and Lorne Michaels — co-creator and producer — was determined to book a guest host he knew could garner viewers: comedian Richard Pryor.
Pryor was at the height of his breakout, on the heels of his Grammy-winning 1974 comedy album and an Emmy win for his work (alongside Michaels and others) on Tomlin’s eponymous 1973 TV special. He agreed to host the show on a few conditions, including one nonnegotiable demand: Paul Mooney, his writing partner of several years, was coming with him.
It was Mooney who penned the showstopping sketch NBC aired during SNL’s seventh episode on Dec. 13, 1975. The legendary bit featured Chevy Chase as a corporate manager interviewing a job candidate played by Pryor. Read HERE.