Richard Pryor's brief, much-publicized return to stand-up comedy marks the climax of "The Comedy Store's 20th Birthday" (tonight at 10 on NBC, Channels 4, 36 and 39). His appearance is much like most of the rest of the hour: an intriguing, too-short, awkwardly edited tease.
When Pryor filmed his segment a few weeks ago, by all accounts, the comic's discomfort at being back on stage was obvious, yet didn't preclude his being funny and touching in his own endearingly rusty way. But the tight abridgement here doesn't do Pryor any favors. A few tender reflections on being stricken in midlife by multiple sclerosis ("God said, 'Take five'; you know, he can make you take five") are abruptly followed by a few old-style Pryor gags about greedy ex-wives. Then suddenly we cut to a sentimental slo-mo exit, and the show's over.