TODAY

Thursday, August 21

Gapers Block
Search

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


A/C
« Speech & Debate Speaks to a Wide Audience "Comic View" Auditions Come to Chicago »

Theater Thu May 23 2013

Lipstick Goes on Last: Family, Friends and Fidelity

LGOL RICHARD PRYOR JR. HEADSHOT.jpeg

Being the child of an uber celebrity certainly presents unique and extraordinary challenges--and when sharing the parent's famous name is added to the spotlight, scrutiny, lofty expectations, and endless comparisons are inevitable. For singer and actor Richard Pryor, Jr., notoriety as the son of one of the world's most legendary stand-up comedians and entertainers is unavoidable, but he certainly understands that it all comes with the territory. "It's something that you try to escape," said Pryor. "I tried to escape it but it's there--it's in you--it's a part of you."

Pryor makes his Chicago stage debut this weekend in Lipstick Goes on Last, a "fierce farce about alternative families, friendships, and fidelity in the 70s;" here, he talks about growing up with his famous father, inheriting the "entertainment gene," frustrations with Hollywood, and the important message the show has for audiences.

You are an entertainer who both sings and acts, who also has a very recognizable name; does having your father's name make things easy or difficult for you?

The name may open some doors, which it has, but I always tell people that without the talent to back it up, you're just doing something. I'm able to say that I am talented in my own right and I am my own person that way, and no, I don't do the humor or the comedy my dad did, but I have my own humor and comedy that I do that's a part of me. And that makes me, me.

Were you and your siblings encouraged by your dad to pursue a career in the entertainment business?

Growing up, I was always in school plays, singing in gospel choirs in Peoria and in other productions, so it's always been a part of me, but there was a time in my life when I went in the opposite direction as far as performing, working in the corporate world and things like that. But when my mother passed in 2003 and my father passed in 2005--it's hard to explain--but it was like a release. I could finally do what I always wanted to do and never wanted to be at a point to say "I wish I would've tried this" or "coulda shoulda woulda." I'm older now and people say you can't have a career when you're older, but I'm gonna give it all I have because this is what I desire and it's in my heart. And I know I can reach a lot of people and touch a lot of peoples' lives as far as what I can do.

You were in show business consistently but stepped away for a spell, only to return full time in 2005, the year your father passed away. Did his death renew your interest in performing?

Actually it did. There was an event in New York City at the Improv and they were naming the main room after my father. I went there for the event (they flew me out from Peoria) and I ended up singing. This guy was demanding that I do comedy and I said "I do not do comedy and I will not do comedy" because I did it some years ago and I didn't enjoy it. I went out and got a track and sang "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" and when I sang, [after] the response that I received, I said, "You know what, I really do have talent and I'm going to come back out here." I went back to Peoria and I only had $300 on me. I came back to New York and that was it.

Growing up with and accompanying your dad means you've been connected to show business for quite some time. What do you think of the climate of the industry now versus back then?

Of course there will always be strides that we've made but still, especially as an African-American, I still look at the industry as a little jaded as far as the way things are handled. And even within our own culture and in films, I get so tired of seeing the same people in every single film. Normally, you see the exact same African-American actresses and actors in films and I say, "Who's gonna give these other people an opportunity and a chance to prove themselves and see their potential?"

Lots of black actors and actresses, in some instances, do in fact mention their limitations in Hollywood...

No one steps up to the plate and allows these people, including myself, to be seen in a way where you can say, "Hey, they're talented as well." You get burned out--for example, take Queen Latifah. I have nothing against her and her performances, but why does she always get "that" role? There are other people out there. What about India.Arie, you know, like with the Nina Simone film? Why wasn't she considered for that? Zoe [Saldana] is a beautiful woman, but she's not "Nina Simone," no matter what you do or what kind of prosthetics you put on her. Why not just find an actress that can fit that and who has that passion and soul? Those are the things that frustrate me with Hollywood. Granted, you see more of us in films now, but you have to look at the type of roles we're still playing.

These days, the word "legend" is often randomly tossed around; however, when it comes to your father, I'm not sure you'd find anyone, anywhere, who wouldn't agree that this title isn't appropriate. When you're performing, do you ever reflect on the fact that your dad is considered by many, to be one of the most revered entertainers in history?

That's a good question. I've always been humble for one thing, but even I look at all the accolades and what people think of my father, and I don't think even he understood what type of man he was in the comedy world.

Really?

I mean, I think he would think that he was good, but I think he would just be blown away by the way people react as far as his comedy, you know, being voted the number one comedian of all time and all that. He was just this skinny black kid from Peoria! [Laughs]

But you and your siblings certainly have to be aware of his impact, right?

Being out there, seeing and meeting people and hearing what they have to say about my father--even on Facebook, [I see] how people have been touched by him--by jokes that he's told--and how he's gotten them out of hard times and how they would just put on one of his albums or watch one of his films and just get comfort by that. It's overwhelming at times, you know, walking in someone shoes--but I would never even try to fit in my father's shoes. But me--I have something to offer, too, as far as being the "son of," and I am able to show my talent and what I have to offer to the world and maybe someday I'll be able to touch somebody's life.

You're making your Chicago stage debut this weekend in Lipstick Goes on Last at The Den Theatre. The show tackles lots of heavy issues: adultery, alcohol abuse and more. That's a lot happening there...

Oh, we've got everything in this--it's like a big jumbled bowl of a jumbled mess. It's so messy and good! The play was written by Cheryl Thomas and produced by 3 Squares Productions and I also jumped on board as co-producer.

The title is very attention-grabbing--how did it come about?

It previously had a different name when they performed it a year or so ago--it was called Dressing for Our Lives. So we thought, "What can be catchy?" Suzy [Brack] remembered some words that were spoken in the play, "lipstick goes on last," because the main character, Meredith, constantly tells her young daughter this when she applies makeup and when she's doing it wrong--that's where the title come from.

And the story?

The play takes place in the 70s: You have Meredith and her husband, who is a psychiatrist, and then their young daughter. Meredith is an alcoholic who is prim and proper, but she is a stone drunk. There's Rita, her best friend, and I'm James, Rita's husband. And then there's Vicki who's a friend as well, and her husband Bobby. My character is really in love with Bobby but because of that time period, I am secretly in love with him, and am torn between the things that I want but I cannot actually have. It's a triangular mess. It's funny, wonderful, and dark, and I love the role.

What message do you think audiences will take away from this show?

I think it would be tolerance and respect for each other, and also knowing that we can love everybody and that there should be no division as far as who you can love. Also, that you can come together through thick and thin that you can still stick it out and knowing that through hardship, pain and sorrow, there's still victory.

~*~

Lipstick Goes on Last opens Saturday, May 25th at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee; the show runs through June 23rd with performances Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $30 and are available online; for more information, call 773-398-7028.

 

Duane / May 23, 2013 11:08 PM

Very well done article. I wish I was in Chicago to see his performance!! I hope he comes to Seattle one day. Would love to see this production!

Add a Comment




Please enter the letter z in the field below:



Live Comment Preview


Notes & Tags

Items marked with a * are required fields. Please respect each other. We reserve the right to delete any comments borne out of douchebaggery or that deal in asshattery.

Permitted tags and how to use them:

To link: <a href="http://blahblahblah.com">Link text</a>
To italicize: <em>Your text</em>
To bold: <strong>Your text</strong>

Theater Wed Aug 13 2014

An Epic, Tragic Win: All Our Tragic

By Benjamin Cannon & Mike Ewing

What then is to be made of the Hypocrites' new stage production, All Our Tragic? This massive opus, comprising all 32 surviving Greek tragedy plays re-written and directed by Sean Graney, lasts a staggering 12 hours, including intermissions and meal breaks. Ben and Mike go the distance.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Aug 15 2014

The Expendables 3, Let's Be Cops, The Giver, Venus in Fur, Dinosaur 13 & The German Doctor

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

Blogroll

ACRE
An Angry White Guy
Antena
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Collaboraction
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Defibrillator
Devening Projects
Digressions
DIY Film
ebersmoore
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
HollywoodChicago
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
InCUBATE
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
J-Pointe
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Marquee
Mess Hall
N'DIGO
Neoteric Art
NewcityArt
NewcityFilm
NewcityStage
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Onstage
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
Performink
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
SAIC Blog
The Seen
Sharkforum
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Steppenwolf.blog
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
threewalls
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Vocalo
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

 

Events

Thu Aug 21 2014
Invaders from Mars & The General w/Live Soundtrack

Thu Aug 21 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Thu Aug 21 2014
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone @ Lincoln Park Zoo

Thu Aug 21 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Thu Aug 21 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Fri Aug 22 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Fri Aug 22 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Fri Aug 22 2014
Chicago Dancing Festival

Fri Aug 22 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Sat Aug 23 2014
Queerpocalypse @ Mayne Stage

Sat Aug 23 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Sat Aug 23 2014
Chicago Dancing Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
A Jangleheart Circus

Sat Aug 23 2014
Bucktown Arts Festival

Sat Aug 23 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Sun Aug 24 2014
Aloft Circus Arts Presents Dinner of Our Discontent @ Chopin Theatre

Sun Aug 24 2014
Bucktown Arts Festival

Sun Aug 24 2014
Chicago Comic Con

Mon Aug 25 2014
Impress These Apes @ ComedySportz

Tue Aug 26 2014
The Moth StorySLAM @ Martyrs'

Tue Aug 26 2014
The Wizard of Oz @ Millennium Park

Wed Aug 27 2014
Avatar @ Millennium Park


A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.



About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: LaShawn Williams, ldw@gapersblock.com
A/C staff inbox: ac@gapersblock.com

Archives

 

A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15

Newsletter

Sign up for our free email newsletter I Star Chi and get a weekly round-up of the best of Gapers Block, plus our picks for must-do events each weekend!

istarchi

Preferred format    Preferred format