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America Has Lost Its Sense Of Humor

By John Barbour

To me, the saddest thing about Americans losing there sense of civility in failing to talk reasonably to one another is that they have lost something more important: their sense of humour.

I loved Richie Pryor.  For a few years, in the 70s, we were sympatico friends.

When I first had 'Real People' at ABC, I told Lou Ehrlich, the programming head, that I wanted Richard as my CoHost.  Ehrlich said, 'That nigger's never getting on this network'.  When I shot the pilot I used Richard anyway as our man on the street.  I still have the tapes. But more to the point...

In his crowded dressing room after one of his shows, he and I got into a funny battle of white vs black accomplishments.

It was hilarious...with blacks and whites howling and cheering for half an hour. I thought I'd won when toward the end I said, 'In Africa, I never heard of your folks building a 2 story hut.  And your folks lived on the equator and never invented air conditioning or a fan.  Just a slave to wave a leaf. Our folks lived on northern Europe and invevented a heater!'

Richie came back with:

'While your folks were killin' one another, Dr. Drew saved your lives and asses by inventing plazma.  And when the fuckin' Irish forgot how to grow a potatoe, George Washington Carver saved y'all by inventing peanuts!'  Cheers!   I added...'But he was named after a white man And Fleming invented penicillin to cure your higher rate of VD!'   The room was exhausted from laughing.  

Then Richie wound it up by saying: Johnny, I give you one thing. The greatest invention in the world next to from that ofay white Goodyear tire guy...inventing the condom!   To help the world produce fewer white folks like Nixon and LBJ!'   Roars of cheering and laughs.

It all ended with him saying, 'Johnny, i dunno who's the smartest but we're all gonna be outdone by the Chinese. Too many of them...because they're too dumb to know how to use one !!'

I miss Richie & Hicks & Carlin & Lenny Bruce & Robin Williams & Jonathon Winters & Joan Rivers, and even a Bob Hope.  Most of all, I miss intelligent reasonable discourse...and the country that once could laugh at itself...