Brian Copeland – local comedian, comic book collector and radio and talk show personality - returns to the bay area with his one-man show: Not a Genuine Black Man. The play ran for over a year in SF and became the longest running one-person show in SF history…and for good reason. It’s, put simply, brilliant.
You will laugh and cry and think. He handles the issue of race, and what it means to be a black man in America, obliquely, as he tells his story of growing up in San Leandro, the most racist city in the country at the time…and it’s harrowing, humorous, and heartbreaking all at once.
The title, Not a Genuine Black Man, is based on a comment that he received via letter from one of his listeners. If you’re black, and walking your own road, you’ve no doubt been told this at one time or another in your life. Probably many times.
About midway through the play, after a harrowing and heart-wrenching encounter between Brian and his father, a dangerous and abusive man who abandoned the family twice, Brian turns to the audience and says:
“No one ever told my father he was not a genuine black man.”
And man, the black man’s burden has never been so eloquently and succinctly summed up – it was one of those moments for me that rang with so much truth and clarity that I had to hold back the tears – not selfish tears as his story is not mine, but tears for all of us and the parts we play.
If you haven’t seen the play, go. It plays in San Jose from August 1 through August 24th. The show has played in LA and off-Broadway, so there’s still a chance it will surface elsewhere, but if San Jose is too far to journey or you don’t want to take a chance, you can get the companion book from Amazon.
Wow, I’m feeling the emotional wallop of the show all over again...