Not A Genuine Black Man
The record holder for San Francisco’s longest running solo performance returns for two nights only.
In 1972, when Brian Copeland was eight, his family moved from Oakland to San Leandro, California, hoping for a better life. At the time, San Leandro was 99.4 percent white, known nationwide as a racist enclave. This reputation was confirmed almost immediately: Brian got his first look at the inside of a cop car, for being a black kid walking to the park with a baseball bat.
Brian grew up to be a successful comedian and radio talk show host, but racism reemerged as an issue—only in reverse—when he received an anonymous letter: “As an African American, I am disgusted every time I hear your voice because YOU are not a genuine Black man!” That letter inspired Copeland to revisit his difficult childhood, resulting in this one-man show.
In an evening of laughter, tears and sociology, Not a Genuine Black Man is a hilarious and insightful look at Bay Area history, and at the ways in which our upbringings make us who we are.
“A beautiful mix of wry humor and heartbreak, indignation and inspiration, a singular story of extreme isolation that speaks to anyone who’s ever felt out of place.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“With agility, Copeland plays over 20 characters in the two-hour show including himself, himself as an 8-year-old, his mother, his sister, his grandmother, his son, his father, his landlord, 3 policemen, 2 lawyers, his father, a waitress, a pastor of an all-white church, a hate-letter writer, two white teenaged racists and several irate neighbors. He also fragments the narrative in time, flashing back and forth between his childhood and his current status as a successful performer, family man and business man. And he keeps it all together for the audience… The drama includes genuinely tragic moments relieved frequently with inside jokes. The show has range, turning corners abruptly, humor and success sharply juxtaposed with failure and depression. He is a talented comedian but this is not two hours of stand up. The man has a lived sense of the tragic.”
—San Francisco Examiner
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