Robin Williams and Richard Pryor's unfunny pasts -- See how much you know about stand-up comedians from the 70s


Comedy at the Edge

Robin Williams and Richard Pryor’s unfunny pasts

In his new book recounting the American stand-up-comic scene in the 1970s, Comedy at the Edge, TIME senior editor Richard Zoglin describes a lot of very funny people indulging in some rather unfunny activities, including drugs, violence, and touring with Helen Reddy. Can you match the comics below with the indiscretion described in the book?

A Robin Williams
B Richard Pryor
C Freddie Prinze
D Joe Piscopo
E George Carlin

1. Banned from The Tonight Show in the early ’70s due to his reputation for drug use, this comic botched a personal appeal to host Johnny Carson by showing up in Carson’s office while high on cocaine.

2. He shot up Jay Leno’s Boston apartment while staying there as a guest.

3. During a stand-up gig, he poked fun at some mafioso-looking audience members, who later slapped him around in the club’s coatroom, fracturing his nose and chipping his tooth.

4. He was accused of stealing material from other comedians, including David Brenner, who once threatened to ”rip off his leg and shove it up his a–.”

5. He once beat up an NBC page for refusing to let his friend backstage, prompting the network to initially refuse to allow him to perform on Saturday Night Live.

ANSWERS: A-4; B-5; C-2; D-3; E-1

Comedy at the Edge

  • Book
  • Richard Zoglin
  • Bloomsbury