What’s the Controversy With Paul Mooney and Richard Pryor, Jr.?

It’s the story no one really feels comfortable talking about, but they’re talking about it anyway: Richard Pryor, Jr. and Paul Mooney. We are living in a time where the dead are kept alive in the news, and this time, old rumors are being stirred up about the late comedian Richard Pryor and his old associates, including fellow comedic legend Paul Mooney. Things have snowballed, folks.

Paul Mooney | Getty Images/Johnny Nunez/WireImage

It started with Richard Pryor’s former bodyguard dropping a bombshell

A few days ago, Comedy Hype posted a clip from a video interview with the senior Pryor’s former bodyguard, Rashon Khan. During the five-minute piece, Khan stated that at one point, Pryor wanted to put out a hit on his friend, Paul Mooney. At first, he didn’t know why the comedian wanted to do it or if he was being serious, but according to Khan, he meant what he said. Hear for yourself.

What Khan was alluding to was that professional and personal relationships both became fractured because Mooney violated a level of trust—in a few ways. According to the story, Pryor’s son (Richard Pryor, Jr.) was just a kid when something of a sexual nature occurred between him and Mooney. It’s unclear whether the alleged encounter was consensual or straight up abuse. After this clip went viral, Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, corroborated Khan’s account on Twitter.  

For those not familiar with Mooney, he’s appeared on Chappelle’s Show and used to be a writer for Richard Pryor. He still does stand-up and spots for film and television. Khan asserts the reason it appears Pryor let things go with Mooney was because he caught on fire—referring to the incident in 1980 when the comedy legend binged on freebase cocaine and alcohol and set himself on fire—thereby causing him to shift his focus.

Mooney denies, but Pryor’s 58-year-old son sort of confirmed something happened to him

Mooney and his PR team went on the defense, issuing a statement via TMZ that the notion he molested Pryor Jr. is a complete lie. Denying Khan’s claims, Mooney notes that he and Pryor were still buddies well into the ‘90s, so this couldn’t be true.

BET News reports that without naming names, Pryor confirmed that he was molested as a kid. He told TMZ, “Whatever happened in my life, it happened when I was young. Way before the ’80s.” He also added that it wasn’t his idea, “How can any relationship be consensual if I was a teenager?”

Now Paul Mooney is canceling shows

With all this negative attention, Mooney is taking a break from the spotlight and canceling performances. Citing health issues, he called off two shows in Atlanta this week and upcoming engagements are being canceled for the next few weeks, Complex reported.

It should be noted that Khan has a book due out for release titled Everything Wasn’t Funny, and some people believe he is telling the story as a form of publicity. Part of it chronicles his time with Pryor and other celebrities. But Khan was around Pryor and his family for a long time, even helping Pryor, Jr. during a time when he had his own struggles with addiction.

An excerpt from the younger Pryor’s memoir published by Fox News details his upbringing, his coming out to his parents, and his close relationship with his father. But the current story floating around is not one he cares to address.