The adage “you should never meet your idols” applies to many situations, especially in the entertainment world. There have been plenty of stories about stars meeting their influences with disappointing results, but that fortunately wasn’t the case for stand-up comedian and Family Feud host Steve Harvey, who apparently met his comedy idol, the highly inspirational Richard Pryor, without any dire consequences.
Some fans might not remember Steve Harvey's early gigs as a stand-up comedian before he branched off into a successful film and television career, but the inspiration for Harvey’s funny stories and sharp punchlines could be traced back to legendary comedian Richard Pryor. Even though meeting one’s idol can be hard to do, especially given Pryor’s status throughout most of his career, Harvey got a chance to meet Pryor that was based mostly on luck and circumstance. The host-comedian shared a post on his Instagram stories about how he met and reacted to his comedy hero.
This lady said, ‘Steve do you know who you’re standing in front of?’ I said, ‘No, who?’ She said, 'Turn around.' I turned around and it was Richard Pryor. I bent over, shook his hand, he said, ‘I heard a lot about you. [sic] told me. You pretty funny.’ … I said, ‘I love you man, I thank you,’ because he was the whole reason I got in comedy, you know. I got through talking with him. The ABC comedy awards was in this huge hangar they had decorated. I went behind the bar, cried for 20 minutes.
As evidenced by Steve Harvey’s words and Instagram video, hearing Richard Pryor praise him meant a whole lot to the Family Feud frontman. Harvey showed a sense of vulnerability in meeting his idol that he doesn't often bring out in front of game show contestants. Fortunately, meeting Pryor didn’t turn into a nightmare scenario that happens occasionally when someone meets an icon. The elder comedian might not have been such a huge influence on future acts such as Harvey had he been a less charismatic person on a daily basis.
Steve Harvey’s story about Richard Pryor hinted at just how big of an influence the late comedian and Stir Crazy actor was over other comedians. Other Black comedians such as Martin Lawrence, Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy have all spoken on Pryor’s influence on their stand-up comedy careers, and it's sometimes very obvious in their acts, though Pryor's ability to mine tragedy for hilarious anecdotes is still pretty one of a kind. Much like Harvey, Murphy and Rock have their own cherished stories about meeting Pryor and having him acknowledge and/or or praise their comedy acts.
But much like Richard Pryor, Steve Harvey has also made an impression on many Black comedians coming after him. Meeting and watching Harvey probably has a similar effect on today’s hyper-successful comedians as meeting Pryor did for those a generation earlier. Despite some difficulties along the way, the host has become a blueprint of success in his own right given his rise in Hollywood.