by The People’s Minister of Information JR
Stand-up comedian Rain Pryor is the daughter of undeniably the most famous comedian in American history, Richard Pryor. And nine years after he passed away, she is the one on stage telling jokes.
She is the star of the new documentary, “That Daughter’s Crazy,” which is about her life and being the biracial daughter of Richard Pryor. It will be screening at the San Francisco Black Film Festival on Friday, June 13, 4 p.m., at the Jazz Heritage Center. Check out Rain Pryor in her own words …
M.O.I. JR: What is it like growing up being the biracial daughter of the most influential comedian in American history?
Rain Pryor: Growing up biracial with an iconic father wasn’t as difficult at some may think. He had already had another biracial child, my sister Elizabeth. I think that it’s fitting that the most influential comedian would date and marry outside his race during a time the world was reeking from racial hatred and tensions. His standup along with his family reflected the world he was living in.
M.O.I. JR: When did you realize that your father was as famous as he was?
Rain Pryor: I realized dad was famous in 1979 when I went to see Live in Concert. I sat there with 3,000 people, all laughing and wanting to be near him. There he was on the stage making all these people laugh. It was magical.
M.O.I. JR: How was the film “That Daughter’s Crazy” conceived?
Rain Pryor: “That Daughter’s Crazy” came out of the director, Elizabeth, having an interest in telling my story of my solo show and Rain Pryor. It’s a story that isn’t heard, and to know Richard Pryor had a Black and Jewish daughter is interesting. I’d like to think hearing the consciousness of my mom’s side of the family is far more interesting than another story about Richard Pryor.
M.O.I. JR: Why did you as filmmakers decide to incorporate your one woman play into the film to tell certain parts of your family’s story?
Rain Pryor: The solo show was the reason the director had an interest in making the film. So the show is really the focus point and all else comes out of that.
M.O.I. JR: What do you think was your father’s biggest contribution to comedy? What about his contribution to Blacks in show business?
Rain Pryor: I believe my father’s biggest contribution to comedy and Blacks in show business is the ability to tell the truth and to become your own director, producer and writer in order to tell the stories you want to tell. His truth is what made him such an iconic standup, but it’s his ability to write, direct and produce that made him the most well paid Black man in the industry.
M.O.I. JR: What is your favorite piece of work from your father? Why?
Rain Pryor: My favorite piece of work of my father’s – although this film is not about my father but about me – is “Lady Sings the Blues” and “Bustin Loose.” These two films showed the world a side of daddy that I saw, the magic, the tender side, the deep and complex sides. It was breathtaking to see him performing in those roles.
“Lady Sings the Blues” and “Bustin Loose” showed the world a side of daddy that I saw, the magic, the tender side, the deep and complex sides.
M.O.I. JR: How can people keep up with you?
Rain Pryor: If people would like to keep up with me, they may follow me on Twitter @RainPryor or on Facebook or my website RainPryor.com.
M.O.I. JR: As a comic, writer and actress, do you put pressure on yourself to reach the bar that your father has set?
Rain Pryor: I don’t feel a pressure to be Richard Pryor, because he was a man and I happen to lack a penis. But I do strive to be the best at what I do. I am a perfectionist about the work I do and I want to achieve the best product I can.
M.O.I. JR: Are your jokes similar to your father’s jokes? Why or why not?
Rain Pryor: What’s similar in my jokes is the honesty I come from, but again his era was far different yet partially the same. He came up doing standup in a time where being PC (politically correct) wasn’t in question. Now, I find, as a comic who’s female and biracial, I must be careful with what I say and how I say it.
M.O.I. JR: What is it like being the offspring of a legend in a profession that you now work in?
Rain Pryor: I find it difficult to find my own voice in standup, because even though people know it’s me they are coming to see, they miss my dad enough that they want a piece of him too. So I imitate him in the hopes this levels the playing field. I have also learned not to be occupied with what the expectations are, but can I just tell my story.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and the newly released “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.