“The Richard Pryor Show” was a short-lived variety series that aired on NBC in the late 1970s, originally conceived as a special for Pryor, but became a primetime regular series, thanks to the immense critical and commercial success of the standalone special. Although Pryor would only film 4 episodes of it, and it never had the opportunity to find its footing.
Like Pryor’s stand-up routine, the show was a mix of satire, social commentary, straight comedy, and the occasional dramatic bit. The main cast consisted of Pryor playing various characters, but it also included guest-starring appearances like this skit featuring the late Maya Angelou, in a rare bit of acting, performing a soliloquy that she also wrote specifically for this special.
In it, she plays the wife of an alcoholic played by Pryor. The sketch starts out comedic, but soon becomes something far more profound, thanks in large part to Angelou’s monologue during the last half.
In the sketch, you’ll also find John Belushi as the bartender.
Watch the Maya Angelou sketch, and then watch the show’s first full episode below: