Rain Pryor coming to Laugh Lounge
PITTSFIELD -- Rain Pryor knows very well where she comes from, but now, she knows where she's going.
Her next stop is Saturday night at the Laugh Lounge at Spice Dragon on North Street, as she continues to develop her stand-up comedy routine.
Also on tap for her in 2014: The release of a new documentary film about her life, more touring of her one-woman show, working with a new manager and her ongoing role of being a mother to a 5-year-old.
"I think I've accomplished a lot. I've had a lot of success, not monetary success, but success in things I can be proud of. Now I'm at a time in my life where I want them to match," Pryor said.
Pryor, 44, is the daughter of groundbreaking comedian and entertainer, the late Richard Pryor. But she says his fame is, in many ways, separate from her success.
"People assume, well, he had money so you have to have money. But people have to remember there were wives, girlfriends and hookers. They got a lot of it," she said. "But I'm happy to have learned to do it on my own."
Rain Pryor is one of the seven children Richard fathered. He was married seven times to five different women, including Rain's mother, Shelley Bonis, a blonde-haired Brooklyn-born Jewish woman. For better, and at times, worse, Rain stood out in life, and struggled to find a way to fit in.
She said it's only been during the past year and a half that she's finally felt like she's come into her own, by recognizing her past while simultaneously stepping out from her dad's shadow.
"I've realized this is about me, not about him," she said.
An outlet called Paradox Smoke Productions will soon release a documentary, "That Daughter's Crazy," featuring Rain Pryor.
Pryor said she was approached last year by the creative team, director Elzbieta Szoka, and producers Sam Adelman and Daryl Sledge, after they saw her acclaimed off-Broadway solo show, "Fried Chicken and Latkes," staged at The Actors Temple.
Pryor's featured in the film along with her mother, grandmother and daughter. As in the theatrical production, the women are featured talking about the subjects of being black and Jewish and finding identity. The film's trailer was just released last Friday, and will be submitted to 2014 film festivals.
"People know who my dad is, but they don't know this part of me," Pryor said. "I love it."
As a comedian, Pryor is a relative newcomer to the stand-up scene, now going into her fifth year. "It's a door that's open and I'm constantly walking through it," she said.
But after years of being encouraged by managers and club owners to model her comedy after her father's, Rain Pryor's now going into it on her own terms.
Though she visited western Massachusetts to see her sister (Smith College history professor Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor), Rain made her first visit to the Berkshires back in December. She and her comedian boyfriend, Jason Smith, were featured at The Happy Fun Time All-Star Comedy Variety Show held at Rumpy's Tavern in Lenox.
She credited local comedian/emcee Thomas Attila Lewis, whose behind The Happy Fun Time show and the Laugh Lounge at Spice Dragon, for encouraging her stand-up work and to do it in Pittsfield.
"I enjoy being able to work with people I dig, and I'm lucky to be able to work with people who hold stand-up in a high place," said Pryor.
She said these days, comedy can be cheapened, cutthroat and segregated by both comics and the people who book them. It's not unusual for a comedian to be expected to travel in between states only to earn less than then mileage costs they racked up getting to the gig, she said.
Pryor said one thing she learned from her father and his contemporaries is that there is potential to be a professional comedian and to have a level of camaraderie where comics get together to hang out before and after the shows to talk about material and support each other.
"My goal is so much bigger than stand-up. It's to change the face of comedy. This is a profession. We should get taken care of and paid well," she said.
"I don't settle for anything less than I deserve. I'm a mom now, and I have to support my family. When I show up to gigs, I'm nice, I'm not an a-hole, because this is my job," she said.
Today, Pryor splits her time living between New York City to spend time with her boyfriend, and sharing a space with her best friend in Baltimore, where her daughter, Lotus Marie, goes to school and where her ex-husband lives.
Though she swore she would never date a comic, Pryor describes her boyfriend as a "hilarious, sweet guy who's also a dad."
She said her ex, Baltimore police officer Yale Partlow, is a committed father to their daughter Lotus, which helps when she's on the road.
She said both men have been a positive influence in her life, as a well as her new manager of six months, Clarence "KD" McNair Jr. of McNairworldwide LLC.
"I've done everything on my own for a long time. It's nice to have someone who gets it and isn't trying to see how much money they can make off of you and your name," said Pryor.
The entertainer, who has stage, television and film credits, said she hopes to work her way back into TV and film in a range of roles.
"I've always been a performer. I think it's just in me. I can't see myself doing anything else," said Pryor. "Now, I'm finding my audience, and it's helping me find my own voice and who I am."