Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling

Last updated
Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling
Jo jo dancer your life is calling.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Pryor
Written by Rocco Urbisci
Paul Mooney
Richard Pryor
Produced byRichard Pryor
StarringRichard Pryor
Cinematography John A. Alonzo
Edited by Donn Cambern
Music by Herbie Hancock
Indigo Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • May 2, 1986 (1986-05-02)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$18,034,150 [1]

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling is a 1986 American biographical [2] comedy-drama film directed, produced by and starring Richard Pryor, who also wrote the screenplay with Paul Mooney and Rocco Urbisci. Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling was Richard Pryor's first [3] and only directorial effort, [4] although he is credited as such on the screen version of his 1983 stand-up comedy concert film.



Pryor plays Jo Jo Dancer, a popular stand-up comedian, who has severely burned himself while freebasing cocaine. The film came out six years after Pryor had set himself on fire while freebasing.


As Dancer lies hospitalized in a coma, his spiritual alter ego revisits his life, from growing up in a brothel as a child and struggling to beat the long odds to become a top-rated comedian. However, his success leads to extensive drug use and womanizing that takes its toll on his life. It affects every relationship, including his marriages. Jo Jo's spirit watches and attempts to convince his past self to end the cycle of self-destruction.



The earlier parts of the film were shot in Pryor's hometown of Peoria, Illinois.


Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling received mixed reviews from critics. It currently has a 54% "Rotten" rating on the movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes based on 13 reviews.

The title of the film is mentioned in the lyrics to the 2013 Afrojack song "The Spark" and the 2016 Danny Brown song “Downward Spiral”.

In the TV series Archer, the movie was referenced in the 8th episode of Season 7, "Liquid Lunch", [5] by Dr. Krieger as the one-man show, “Jo Jo Dancer - Ihr Leben Ruft”, he was performing.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eddie Murphy</span> American actor and comedian (born 1961)

Edward Regan Murphy is an American actor, comedian, and singer. He rose to fame on the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, for which he was a regular cast member from 1980 to 1984. Murphy has also worked as a stand-up comedian and is ranked No. 10 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. Murphy has received a Grammy Award and Emmy Award and was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2015 and the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2023.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Pryor</span> American comedian and actor (1940-2005)

Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor Sr. was an American stand-up comedian and actor. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time. Pryor won a Primetime Emmy Award and five Grammy Awards. He received the first Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 1998. He won the Writers Guild of America Award in 1974. He was listed at number one on Comedy Central's list of all-time greatest stand-up comedians. In 2017, Rolling Stone ranked him first on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time.

<i>The Toy</i> (1982 film) 1982 film by Richard Donner

The Toy is a 1982 American comedy film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Richard Pryor, Jackie Gleason, Ned Beatty, Scott Schwartz, Teresa Ganzel, and Virginia Capers. It is an adaptation of the 1976 French comedy film Le Jouet.

<i>Eddie Murphy Raw</i> 1987 film by Robert Townsend

Eddie Murphy Raw is a 1987 American stand-up comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Robert Townsend. It was Murphy's second feature stand-up comedy film, following Eddie Murphy Delirious. However, unlike Delirious, Raw received a wide theatrical release. The 90-minute show was filmed at the Felt Forum, a venue in the Madison Square Garden complex in New York City. The film was released in the United States on December 18, 1987. As of January 2022, it is the highest-grossing stand-up comedy concert film ever released, making $50.5 million in the United States and Canada.

<i>Harlem Nights</i> 1989 comedy drama crime film directed by Eddie Murphy

Harlem Nights is a 1989 American crime comedy-drama film starring and directed by Eddie Murphy, who also wrote. The film co-stars Richard Pryor, Michael Lerner, Danny Aiello, Redd Foxx, Della Reese, and Murphy's older brother Charlie. The film was released theatrically on November 17, 1989, by Paramount Pictures. The film tells the story of "Sugar" Ray and Vernest "Quick" Brown as a team running a nightclub in the late 1930s in Harlem while contending with gangsters and corrupt police officials.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Judd Apatow</span> American comedian and filmmaker (born 1967)

Judd Apatow is an American comedian, director, producer, and screenwriter, best known for his work in comedy and drama films. He is the founder of Apatow Productions, through which he produced and directed the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Funny People (2009), This Is 40 (2012), Trainwreck (2015), The King of Staten Island (2020), and The Bubble (2022).

<i>Bill Cosby: Himself</i> 1983 film by Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby: Himself is a 1983 comedy film featuring American stand-up comedian Bill Cosby. Filmed before a live audience at Hamilton Place, in Hamilton, Ontario in 1981, Cosby gives the audience his views ranging from marriage to parenthood. The film also showcases Cosby's conversational style of stand-up comedy. For most of the performance, Cosby is seated center-stage, only getting up to emphasize a joke.

<i>Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World</i> 2005 American film

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is a 2005 film starring and directed by Albert Brooks. It was shown at the Dubai International Film Festival.

<i>Another You</i> 1991 film by Maurice Phillips

Another You is a 1991 American comedy film directed by Maurice Phillips and produced and written by Ziggy Steinberg. The film stars Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Mercedes Ruehl, Vanessa Williams and Kevin Pollak. The film was released in the United States on July 26, 1991.

<i>Some Kind of Hero</i> 1982 film by Michael Pressman

Some Kind of Hero is a 1982 American comedy-drama film starring Richard Pryor as a returning Vietnam War veteran having trouble adjusting to civilian life. Soon he is involved in an organized crime heist. It co-stars Margot Kidder and was directed by Michael Pressman.

<i>The Aristocrats</i> (film) 2005 film by Paul Provenza, Penn Jillette

The Aristocrats is a 2005 American documentary comedy film about the famous eponymous dirty joke. The film was conceived and produced by comedians Penn Jillette, Paul Provenza and Peter Adam Golden, and it was edited by Emery Emery. Distributed by THINKFilm, it is dedicated to Johnny Carson, as "The Aristocrats" was said to be his favorite joke.

<i>Brewsters Millions</i> (1985 film) 1985 film

Brewster's Millions is a 1985 American comedy film directed by Walter Hill. The film stars Richard Pryor and John Candy. The screenplay by Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris was based on the 1902 novel of the same name by George Barr McCutcheon. It is the seventh film based on the story.

<i>True Identity</i> 1991 film by Charles Lane

True Identity is a 1991 American comedy film directed by Charles Lane and starring Lenny Henry, Frank Langella and Anne-Marie Johnson. The plot revolves around a black man (Henry), who disguises himself as a white man to escape the mob.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scoey Mitchell</span> American actor, writer and TV director (1930–2022)

Roscoe Mitchlll Jr. or Scoey Mitchlll, usually credited as Scoey Mitchell, was an American actor, producer, writer and television director known for frequent appearances on 1970s game shows, including Match Game and Tattletales. He starred in the short-lived series Barefoot in the Park and had a recurring role on Rhoda.

<i>Ghost Town</i> (2008 film) 2008 film directed by David Koepp

Ghost Town is a 2008 American fantasy comedy film directed by David Koepp, who also co-wrote the screenplay with John Kamps. It stars English comedian Ricky Gervais in his first leading feature-film role, as a dentist who can see and talk with ghosts, along with Téa Leoni as a young widow and Greg Kinnear as her recently deceased husband. Gavin Polone produced the film for Spyglass Entertainment and Pariah, and it was distributed by Paramount Pictures under the DreamWorks Pictures label.

<i>Funny People</i> 2009 film by Judd Apatow

Funny People is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Judd Apatow, co-produced by Apatow Productions and Madison 23 Productions, and starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann with Eric Bana, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman in supporting roles. The film follows a famous comedian who is diagnosed with a terminal disease and tries to fix the relationships in his life while befriending an aspiring comedian.

Rocco Urbisci is an American director, producer and film and television writer.

<i>Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip</i> (film) 1982 stand-up comedy film

Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip is a 1982 American stand-up comedy film directed by Joe Layton. The film stars and produced by Richard Pryor, who also wrote the film with Paul Mooney. The film is released alongside Pryor's album of the same name in 1982, and was the most financially lucrative of the comedian's concert films. The material includes Pryor's frank discussion of his drug addiction and of the night that he caught on fire while freebasing cocaine in 1980.

<i>Queenpins</i> 2021 American film

Queenpins is a 2021 American comedy film written and directed by Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly. It stars Kristen Bell, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Paul Walter Hauser, Bebe Rexha, and Vince Vaughn. Ben Stiller serves as an executive producer under his Red Hour Productions banner.


  1. "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling", Box Office Mojo.
  2. Siskel, Gene (May 4, 1986). "Richard Pryor Comes Clean In Harrowing Recap Of Life". Chicago Tribune . Tribune Publishing . Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  3. "Short Circuit A Box-office Live Wire". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  4. "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling". Turner Classic Movies . Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  5. "Sort by Popularity - Most Popular Movies and TV Shows tagged with keyword "reference-to-jo-jo-dancer"". IMDb .