Richard Pryor Booked Arsenio Hall A Ride on the Cocaine Train
We’re pretty sure Arsenio Hall wasn’t exactly an angel when he got his start performing in clubs like the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. But if he needed any help going down the road of decadence, the legendary Richard Pryor was happy to provide the map. While performing a recent set at the Store, Hall let everyone know how his hero introduced him to some of life’s illicit pleasures.
While performing on Monday night, according to a Page Six report, Hall pointed to an intimate booth in a shadowy corner of the Comedy Store. The spot held a special place in Hall’s heart, he confided, because that’s where Pryor introduced him to nose candy. Hall told the crowd that he was hanging out after hours with his friend and mentor when Pryor handed him “a rock” and a $100 bill.
The two comics snorted the coke while an “oblivious” Stevie Wonder played a nearby piano. Not a bad soundtrack for your first experience with blow? Hall told the crowd that, if anything, Wonder likely believed the two funny men were battling allergies.
Despite that back-of-the-club adventure, Hall doesn’t appear to have gone down the same destructive path with cocaine that Pryor did. (To understand how bad things got, simply watch Pryor’s concert film, Live on the Sunset Strip.) After The Arsenio Hall Show ended in 1994, rumors swirled that Hall had entered rehab. “I went on the internet, and read I was in detox at Betty Ford,” Hall complained a few years later. “I got online under a fake name and typed in, ‘I know Arsenio better than anyone else, and he’s not in detox, you idiots!'”
Hall told Howard Stern that he stayed connected to Pryor right up until the end. “Richard Pryor was my hero and Richard and I were friends until his last day on this earth,” he says. “And at the end of his life, there weren't a lot of people hanging around kissing Richard's ass.”
Because Pryor’s health had deteriorated so much, Hall says he’d sneak his hero out of the house for a laugh break. “Sometimes if the nurse was shopping, I'd jump over the fence and go to the back window to his room,” Hall revealed. “One time he wanted to go see one of Eddie (Murphy)’s movies so he had this little cart. I put his cart in my Range Rover and took him to the Sherry Lansing Theater at Paramount and we watched one of Eddie's movies.”
Even though Pryor was devastated by illness, Hall would arrange visits with old friends like Quincy Jones and Steve Harvey. Pryor couldn’t talk much but he still found a way to make his visitors laugh. “He was funny until the last day he was on this Earth.”