Recently NBC attempted to reboot the weekly variety show with Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris to... ahem, less than stellar critical reception. I guess there's just something about those bygone airwaves of the late 70s/early 80s which simply can't be recaptured. Some would say it's the no-budget production values, while others would credit the second and third-tier guest stars. Me, I think what modern variety shows are missing is more Star Wars.
You know what I'm talking about. We've already experienced in previous posts how the dubious mixture of song and dance and light sabers made for some unforgettable television. There was that French Star Wars dance thing, the Donnie & Marie Star Wars send-up and, of course, The Star Wars Holiday Special itself. (Hey, I said they were unforgettable, I didn't say they were any good.) One of my favorites, though, would have to be the Star Wars Bar skit from The Richard Pryor Show.
How can top that combination of actual costumes from the movie and one of the funniest men to ever take the stage? And Pryor's reaction to the customer that looks like Satan? Priceless.
And who knows, maybe that reaction wasn't all acting. Having been raised in a brothel, it's probably not very surprising that Pryor wasn't too keen on religion in his younger days, going so far as to record a pretty scathing anti-religious routine on his 1971 album, Craps (After Hours). Stop by just about any atheist site and you're bound to run across his famous line from that recording which claims "the reason people use a crucifix against vampires is that vampires are allergic to bullshit." However, when this Star Wars Bar skit showed up in 1977, it might have been the first sign that the comedian wasn't so skeptical of religion after all. This became even more apparent after he set himself on fire in 1980 and, in typical Pryor fashion, made it a part of his routine to openly thank God for not burning his penis off. And by the time he was crippled with multiple sclerosis in the late 80s, Pryor was freely admitting to the New York Times that, yes, he did indeed believe in God. So, sorry atheists, looks like you lost another one.
Hey, I'm not saying Richard Pryor passed away a Saint, but then again, most of us don't. It's like David Bohr notes in his book, Catholic Moral Tradition, conversion can sometimes be "marked by an abrupt, powerful religious experience which turns one's life in a totally new direction," but more often than not, it can be "a very long, slow, and laborious process." Just ask St. Augustine, it took him 30 years of toying with the idea of religion before he caved in and started taking the whole thing seriously. Some people just need more time than others. Fortunately for us all, time is one thing God has plenty of to spare.