12 user 6 critic

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986)

After severely burning himself in a drug incident, a comedian has a near death experience in which he reviews his life.


Richard Pryor
1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Pryor ... Jo Jo Dancer / Alter Ego
Debbie Allen ... Michelle
Art Evans ... Arturo
Fay Hauser ... Grace
Barbara Williams ... Dawn
Carmen McRae ... Grandmother
Paula Kelly ... Satin Doll
Diahnne Abbott ... Mother
Scoey Mitchell ... Father
Billy Eckstine Billy Eckstine ... Johnny Barnett
Tanya Boyd ... Alicia
Wings Hauser ... Cliff
E'Lon Cox E'Lon Cox ... Little Jo Jo
Michael Ironside ... Detective Lawrence
J.J. Barry ... Sal


In this film that closely parallels his own life story, Richard Pryor plays Jo Jo Dancer, a popular stand-up comedian who has severely burned himself in a drug incident. As he lies unconscious in a hospital, his spiritual alter ego gets up and begins a journey of his own. He 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 brings new problems as he develops a tragic pattern of substance abuse that begins to screw up his life. All the while, Jo Jo's spirit watches these events and attempts to convince his past self to turn off from his path of self destruction. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@home.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Role Of His Life. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


In gathering an ensemble cast, Richard Pryor chose several actors and actresses whose talent he admired, but with many of whom he had not previously worked. Pryor explained: "A movie is a collective effort; no one person makes a picture. But in the end, what gets up there on-screen is the director's vision. I wanted this to be my vision." See more »


A 1980's Lincoln Town Car appears twice during the "Young Jojo" sequence: Over Young Jojo's shoulder during closeups when he looks back at "Older Jojo" sitting at the corner store, and then again briefly parked in front of the family house a few minutes later when he returns home and is chastised by his grandmother for playing on the lawn. See more »


Jo Jo Dancer: [to his wife as he gets on the bus] I'm gonna write you, I'm gonna write you.
See more »


Referenced in Dead Teenagers (2007) See more »


Written by Junior Walker (as Autry DeWalt)
Performed by Jr. Walker and the All Stars (as Jr. Walker and The All Stars)
Courtesy of Motown Records
See more »

User Reviews

personal docudrama
3 November 2015 | by SnoopyStyleSee all my reviews

Jo Jo Dancer (Richard Pryor) is a successful comedian. In a drunken haze, he severely burns himself. His spirit watches his wounded body in his hospital bed and recalls his journey to that point. As a child, Jo Jo grew up in the brothel with his mother. As a young man, he decides to go to the big city Cleveland to try his hand in stand up. His father beats him up and his young wife is too afraid to go with him. He gets a gig at a strip club. As his career rises, his marriages suffer a roller-coaster ride of drug use and other difficulties.

This is a thinly-veiled personal docudrama. I think it's probably a mistake for Pryor to direct the movie himself. It's technically competent but the material is there for something much more compelling. The story never gets much tension. It's coated in a functional lifetime docudrama. An experienced director would be able to bring something more interesting in the structure and also a deeper performance from Pryor. I love Pryor as a comic and an actor. I don't love this movie quite as much.

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Release Date:

2 May 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,879,107, 4 May 1986

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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