Richard Pryor appears in first season of ‘Saturday Night Live’: Part 6

He hosted one of the opening episodes of "SNL" and did a skit, which had him reacting to an increasingly racist exchange with actor Chevy Chase.
7:35 | 01/17/20

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Transcript for Richard Pryor appears in first season of ‘Saturday Night Live’: Part 6
We are gathered here today. Richard was many different people. Ain't nobody messing with turn your head around. Break into character. That's what a real good comic does. You don't know what happened? I don't know how many people in his head he thought he was, but because of that his talented introduced us to so many things. I love when white dudes get mad and cuss. Y'all are some funny When you cuss. Yeah, come on, peckerhead. Profanity. Yeah. Here comes Richard Pryor with the "Mf" word, with the "F" word, with everything you could have. And you know, I even had to think about it I thought, "Well, is this okay? What's this?" Well, the language, to me, was the language of the street. Stuck to the dialogue, saying the stuff that, it's taboo. Ain't no way to get an ambulance out in the ghetto unless you call, this Is killing a white woman, where's the body? During those days, the premiere way of amassing an audience was to put out a comedy record. I'm not allowed to say it now but there was a time when I could even tell you, you know what my favorite album was? And it was -- That's how the title of that n-word is crazy came into the lexicon of comedy. On tower records on sunset boulevard, that was the billboard with no pixilation. He changed everything. The record came out and was an instantaneous hit. Some dudes would talk to you while they kicked your -- right? What you want with me, man? So he's on Dinah shore. I mean, she is the epitome of a kind of lily white sensibility. I don't know how you feel about the title of your album, but I find it difficult to say. You do? For most white people it's hard to say crazy. Well, you tell them the title of the album, I can't say it. The title of the album is "That Crazy", and don't that Look crazy? See now you can just say that and talk -- if I said that wouldn't you get mad? I'd punch you out. What he's doing is he's waving in front of people saying, I know you say this word. You may not say it on Dinah shore's show and Dinah might not say it, but this is a word that you use. And now I'm going to use it and by using it, I am maybe outraging you shocking you annoying you. But you can't help but think about the fact that this word is You ever notice how nice white people get when there's a bunch of Around? Right? They get outside they talk to everybody. Hi, how you doing? I don't know you, but here's my wife. He was always speaking for the people. Make everybody look around. Oh, did you hear that? I'm coming back next week. I want to hear that again. I hate this conversation. The N word. Which I've said isn't that just as bad as the actual word? That was sometimes historically the last word that you heard before you was killed. You can't use it. I can use it. The end. Hell, no. Oh, you know that I couldn't use that word. There's just rules that are written in this society that are invisibly written, but we all know that they're there. You are not allowed to say that to me. Period. Why should there be an unspeakable word? Can you bring In okay? Let's check the manual. Yep, page 8, you can bring them right there, see? Let's drag 'em down town, okay. At the time that was all part of the black man being rebellious. It showed that he was a rebel. You didn't care what nobody said. Richard had bravery to go the other direction and to use the n-word. That was the anger. And a lot of comedy does come from anger. It comes from injustice. It comes from how you've been treated. It's always been okay for black people to say it to each other, because it's just sort of a funny slang. But when it's not okay is when a white person calls a black person that, because it's coming from a different mindset. When you're on stage why is it so much a part of your performance? I don't know why. Okay. I really -- no, I don't. I guess it's, um -- I grew up and I learned certain things and I felt by doing it myself that it takes the sting out of it when you do that. 200 years of that. You pick a little cotton and you'll be all right. For free. Lord knows he was complicated. Richard Pryor came out of a very dark place. America was coming out of a very dark place. And then the two crossed paths, Richard Pryor made a joke, and they went down the same road together. "Saturday night live" is a revelation for all the kind of people who were home smoking pot on a Saturday night. It's as if the network has been hijacked by a bunch of, like, hipsters and stoners. When it comes to comedy and network television, it is the final and biggest break from the old world. That's the moment when lorne Michael says, I need to get the funniest person on the planet to be the guest host on my show. Ladies and gentleman, Richard Pryor. His appearance on "Snl" in the first season is reflective of exactly his kind of above ground/underground appeal. Not only does he connect so intensely and deeply with the black audience, but also he brings the white audience with him as well. So Pryor was on one of the opening episodes of the first season, and there is a skit in that episode where he is applying for a job and he is across a desk from Chevy chase. Dog? Tree. Fast? Slow? After some back and forth Chevy chase starts to use increasingly racist insults at Pryor to ask him to respond. Colored? Redneck. Junglebunny. Peckerwood. It really got very, very tense and very real. He is unraveling. And that's the complexity of the performance. He's giving voice to the anger, but he's showing how anger unmakes you. I think even Chevy chase was stunned at what happened. I think Richard actually scared Chevy chase during that scene. Junglebunny. Honky! Spade. Honky honky! Dead honky. They would have cut it day. But in those days, god, this is something that nobody had ever seen before. There was nothing else on TV that used those words. Anybody who was a teenager back then could repeat the entire routine to you. Which is a testament to the power of the show. He wanted to go as far out as he could, and he went as far out as he could. When he went on the show, everybody was saying, you got to watch this Richard Pryor guy. And he said, you know, you think I'm insane? Watch this. Well, look at me I'm standing

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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