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Rain Pryor


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Book Description

Oct. 18 2006
The loving yet brutally honest memoir of the daughter of comedy legend Richard Pryor

Rain Pryor was born in the idealistic, free-love 1960s. Her mother was a Jewish go-go dancer who wanted a tribe of rainbow children, and her father was Richard Pryor, perhaps the most compelling and brilliant comedian of his era.

In this intimate, harrowing, and often hilarious memoir, Rain talks about her divided heritage, and about the forces that shaped her wildly schizophrenic childhood. In her father's house, she bonded with Richard's grandmother, Mamma, a one-time whorehouse madam who never tired of reminding Rain that she was black. In her mother's house, and in the home of her Jewish grandparents, Rain was a "mocha-colored Jewish princess," learning how to cook everything from kugel to beef brisket.

It seemed as if Rain was blessed with the best of both worlds, but it didn't quite work out that way. Life at Mom's was unstable in the extreme, while at Richard's place Rain was exposed to sex and drugs before she had even learned to read. "Daddy," she told her father one day, sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at the advanced age of eight, "the whores need to be paid."

Jokes My Father Never Taught Me is both lovingly told and painfully frank: the story of a girl who grew up adoring her father even as she feared him--and feared for him--as his drug problems grew worse. In 1980 Pryor tried to kill himself by setting himself on fire, then joked that it had been an accident: "No one ever told me you couldn't mix cookies with two types of milk!" In his later years, Pryor succumbed to multiple sclerosis, and Rain watched in tears as her father became a shell of his former self. Once, in an unusually introspective mood, Pryor asked his daughter, "Why do you love me, Rainy, when I can be so mean?"

Jokes My Father Never Taught Me answers that poignant question and many more. It is an unprecedented look at the life of a legend of comedy, told by a daughter who both understood the genius and knew the tortured man within.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details


Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Here's a rambling, warts-and-all look at life with Richard Pryor, the beloved comedy iconoclast whose public success masked a private life brimming with alcohol, drugs, violence and paranoia. Written by his 37-year-old daughter, this family biography chronicles her first meeting with her father at age four, Richard's role as a wayward family man (he had seven children by a number of different women), his struggle with MS, and his 2005 death. Amid less interesting snapshots of her own life-including her work as an actress-Pryor offers a bold but sympathetic portrait of her "misogynistic, mercurial, unpredictable, and violent" father that's as fascinating as it is conflicted: "That was life with Richard Pryor. Sex and violence, punctuated by rare moments of family happiness." In addition, Pryor takes readers behind the scenes of Richard's career; into the "weird sort of Richard Pryor Fan Club" made up of ex-wives, ex-girlfriends and their children; and down Richard's frightening path to debilitating illness. Vital, entertaining and appalling, Pryor has fleshed out a familiar dysfunctional family refrain-"It was a lot easier to love him if you didn't know him"-with bravery and wit.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Rain Pryor was a regular on the hit ABC series Head of the Class, starred in the Showtime series Rude Awakening, and created an award-winning one-woman show based on her life, Fried Chicken and Latkas. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  42 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down.... Dec 19 2006
By tkay - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I can't remember the last book I read that made me laugh as well as cry. This is a good'un: a must have for any Richard Pryor fan. And if you weren't a Rain Pryor fan before, you will be after reading this. I am proud of Rain and she should be proud of herself. She really did her thing on this one. She didn't hold back, she let it all out. This book is not sugar-coated at all. She's brutally honest just like her dad.

This book was so moving to me because I can relate to Rain in several different ways. My father was also abusive. My father abused alcohol and drugs and went on violent rampages. My father also believed that money was equivalent to an apology or an expression of love. Rain recalled that a good solid hug would have been much better than a new car. I can definitely relate to that. My father also ended up wheel-chair bound and died from a debilitating disease (Parkinson's). It's not easy watching someone you love deteriorate like that no matter how bad of a parent they were. And like Rain, no matter what my father did, I still loved him very much.

I know Richard is looking down on her beaming with pride. While he never recovered from his troubled childhood, she did. And she did it with grace and a forgiving spirit. Bless her heart, with two unstable parents, it's amazing what's she's done with her life. Though she dabbled with alcohol and drugs, she never became an addict. She was also blessed to find a good husband unlike many daughters of abusive fathers. Hats off to you Rain!

This book is definitely a page-turner, as a matter of fact, I didn't put it down once I started reading it. I read the whole thing in one sitting. An easy read, this book is also filled with some really nice photos. And the photos are not only in the middle of the book, they're placed here and there throughout the book which is very nice. There's a touching photo of Rain and her father taking a nap together. She looks just like her dad and she's funny just like him too.

This book also revealed Jennifer Lee's true colors. Jennifer was Richard's last wife, wife #5 and wife#7. I was convinced she really loved Richard, had forgiven him for the way he'd treated her and wanted to take care of him in his time of need. That would explain her marrying him when he was wheel-chair bound, nearly in a vegetative state and dependent on her for his survival, right? WRONG! She had dollar signs written all over her. I once admired her for trying to keep some dollars coming in for Richard. She helped to get his TV show released on DVD, she helped put together his 9 CD box set and she also appeared on his Comedy Central Special, "I Ain't Dead Yet." But I guess I didn't stop to think that by being his wife/caretaker, she got to cash some chips in too for herself. She did a good job handling Richard's business affairs but she was wrong for keeping him away from his children. She also had him change his will shortly before he died which left the bulk of his estate to her. Now I'm not saying she shouldn't have gotten anything, but she shouldn't get everything. Richard's daughter Elizabeth is contesting this in court. I hope she wins. Shame on you Jennifer.

If you're a fan of Richard or Rain, you won't be disappointed with this one. Rain has a beautiful spirit and like her father, she has a special way of touching people with her words. You go Rain!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life with Pryor ain't no joke ! Nov. 28 2006
By a reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Rain Pryor's book was hard to put down. As intimate as it was, I wanted even more details of her life, and I wanted to book to be longer. She inherited her Fathers incredible sence of humor, which I could not get enough of. Her strength and forgivness amazing me though. How can you forgive two Parents that were totally abusive in everyway ? Its tough, and Rain is one tough cookie ! In her book she describes Mamma , Richard Pryors Grandmother as teaching her that "Your Daddy beats you cuz he loves you" "Get over it" And she calls this good advice, was she serious or sarcastic ? I think accepting this kind of child abuse, perpetuates it.This scene was after Rain was sexually molested my a relative, and good ol' Richard stepped in to beat the hell out of Rain, for being molested ! "To teach her a lesson for flaunting her stuff " Richard Pryor being raised in a whorehouse run by this Mamma, he himself only saw sex and whoppin's, he had no chance. It fueled his true comic genius, sure, But, when is all this abuse going to stop? especially in the Black community, were Black comics think child Whoppin's are just hilarious? I see it everyday. Rain said "you have to let go", I agree, but until child abuse can be seen for what it is, Parents are going to get away with it, for cultural reasons. Rains Mother was the Mother from hell also, but she tried and admitted to Rain that she was "messed up" and on Richards death bed she told him Rain was the best we ever created, Rain heard this and it really helped her. Also one day close to the end Richard told Rain that he was so sorry for everything he put Rain through, and touchingly gave her, as an adult, a Teddy bear, his way of making amends.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An emotional rollercoaster of a read Oct. 24 2008
By Emily - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I had bought this book for one of my best friends for her birthday. She also suffers from MS, and was interested to read about Richard Pryor. After finishing it, she let me borrow it to see if I came to same conclusion she did about Richard's daughter Rain. Jokes My Father Never Taught Me, tells the story of Rain Pryor's childhood and her life with one of the most famous fathers in Hollywood. Rain grew up with half Jewish, half black. She states that she never felt quite Jewish enough, or quite black enough. Constantly surrounded by drugs and alcohol, Rain finds herself lost in her own life. As she gets older, she realized that acting is what she most wants to do. However, after a short stint on Head of the Class, Rain finds herself without a car, or a home. Having lost everything due to the abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Furthermore, we see the pain that Rain experiences as her father suffers through a very harsh battle with MS. As his life is ran by one of his ex-wives, Rain must make appointments to see her father and is no longer allowed to see him on a regular basis. Also at this time, Rain meets her future husband Kevin, who she says helped her to deal with the struggles of her childhood and young adult life. However, after reading this story, I feel as though Rain Pryor is still not happy in life. My best friend came to the same conclusion. In fact, after closing the last pages of the book, I felt both emotionally drained and depressed. All in all, an interesting look into the life of one of America's top comics.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good! Jan. 8 2007
By Whatshername - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Without even taking into account the quality of most "offspring of celebrity" books, this was a very good read! It was touching and insightful, not just a wild and shocking account of Richard's life. (which by all accounts would have filled a book easily) I would recommend it for anyone who likes entertainment/show business memoirs.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Similar and Different from Rebecca Walker Nov. 30 2006
By Jeffery Mingo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Rain Pryor must have said to herself, "If Rebecca Walker can write a book, then so can I!" Both Rain and Rebecca are Black, Jewish women. They are both the children of a famous person and of a divorced family. Rain describes Richard Pryor's abuse and addiction; Rebecca describes Alice Walker's naive negligence. However, Rebecca's memoir is serious and "high" in nature; Rain's is a text that anyone can pick up and speed through. Rebecca only includes a photo of herself on the cover of her book; Rain is shown with her father. Rebecca's book has no other photos; Rain's is filled with them and that makes for its page-turning nature. Rebecca centers herself whereas Rain speaks of her father 85% of the time. Rebecca ends her book when she finishes high school; Rain describes her life until her father's death. (Rebecca goes on to Yale and Rain suggests she never went to college.) Though the two books have different aims, they are worthy in their own ways.

Rain admits that she is an actress and not a writer. She is no Toni Morrison, but her words and experiences are still valuable, entertaining, and insightful. Rain says despite being on "Head of the Class," she ended up doing construction work and Miss Cleo-like telephone service. This reminds me of how Eric Estrada said he struggled after "C.H.I.P.S." and Bob Crane went downhill after "Hogan's Heroes." Hollywood is fleeting, despite the Julia Roberts and Will Smiths on the screen.

As much as domestic abuse makes people cringe, this book was scant on the extent of Richard Pryor's nastiness. The film "What's Love Got to Do with It?" suggests that Ms. Turner went into detail about how Ike mistreated in "I, Tina." Rain just says, "He abused me" and later in the book she mentions one instance of being hit. I think people may have a better view of Richard's being a hot mess if she said more. Rain repeats, "He's the only father I had, so I love him regardless." I think may abused children will relate. She also said her own marriage was rocky, soon after it started. She never answers whether she and her husband divorced. She never questions whether her father's numerous unstable marriages affected her own.

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