Pryor's show is an ode to growing up Black and Jewish with her famous comedian dad, Richard Pryor, in Beverly Hills.
Inside The National Black Theatre in Harlem, New York, Rain Pryor, the star of the cabaret-styled autobiographical show, “Fried Chicken and Latkes,” stands solo. The daughter of a Jewish mom and famous Black dad, Richard Pryor, is center stage performing her one-woman show with much skill and power. It’s the kind of power that only a self-assured woman can deliver. The show is an ode to growing up Black and Jewish in Beverly Hills, California in the early 70’s and 80’s.
The 45-year-old comedian does a magnificent job at fusing these two worlds together through singing and dancing, coupled with brilliant impressions of characters that were important to her. These characters include her late father, her maternal grandmother and the Beverly Hills’ classmates who often questioned her hair texture. She would look to James Brown’s “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” to affirm her.
Directed by Kamilah Forbes, “Fried Chicken and Latkes” travels across time, offering an authentic, hilarious and uncensored experience. But don’t think Rain is dependent on her father’s legacy for fame—the talented performer holds her own. It’s the honesty of Rain’s show that is the real treat. She doesn’t shy away from letting the audience in on her father’s complex life, addressing his drug abuse and suicide she was barely in her teen years when he tried to kill himself. She reminisced on the times he would try to reprimand her for sporting pink hair. “There will be no punk rockers in this house!” he said. Or the times he was just too busy being famous or with other women to raise her.
If there were any indications that the 45-year-old comedian was putting on a perfect show, perhaps the visitation of her father is one. “There was one night here in the theatre where I swear he was standing right over there,” she tells ESSENCE, pointing to the back of the room. “It made me mess up. I had to stop and look. I could see right through him. I tried to continue but I couldn’t because I wanted to stop and just have a conversation with him.”
Sadness doesn’t permeate the theatre until Rain recalls the moments she visited her father while he was dying. She also acknowledged that barely anyone showed up to his 2005 funeral.
“No one came, the people that were there were the people that I didn’t even know he was friends with,” she says. “It hurt me. Diana Ross called and asked, ‘can I be there?’ She was one of the only ones to show up.”
Now a Baltimore resident, Rain closes her show by referencing the recent and continued killings of Black men. She hopes that her show will inspire Black folks to “face their spiritual corruption,” while also looking to the past for guidance.
Fried Chicken and Latkes runs now until June 28th at the National Black Theatre.
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