Not a Genuine Black Man

Not a Genuine Black Man Not a Genuine Black Man

Not a Genuine Black Man

Written and performed by Brian Copeland
Developed by Brian Copeland and David Ford
Directed by David Ford
Special Presentation · Osher Studio
April 23–June 14, 2014

Running time: about 2 hours, including one intermission

“In 1972, The National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing called San Leandro, California a ‘racist bastion of white supremacy.’ Fair Housing advocates considered it one of the most racist suburbs in America. The U.S. Commission in Civil Rights conducted hearings. And then, we moved to town.” So begins Brian Copeland in Not a Genuine Black Man, the longest-running one-man show in San Francisco history—back for its 10th anniversary at Berkeley Rep! In a monologue that’s both entertaining and poignant, Brian explores how surroundings make us who we are. “Very funny,” raved the Chronicle. “Copeland is a winning, magnetic performer. More than that, he’s got an important tale to tell!”

Season sponsors

BARTSan Francisco Chronicle / SFGate.comWells Fargo

Not a Genuine Black Man calendar

Cast and creative team

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Brian Copeland · Performer

Brian CopelandBrian has been in show business since he first stepped on the comedy stage at the tender age of 18. Soon he was headlining clubs and concerts across the country and opening for such artists as Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Ringo Starr, and the queen of soul Aretha Franklin, in venues from the Universal Amphitheater to Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. Soon, Brian branched out into television, appearing on comedy programs on NBC, A&E, and MTV. He spent five years as co-host of San Francisco FOX affiliate KTVU’s breakfast program Mornings on 2 and two years hosting San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO’s Emmy Award-winning afternoon talk show 7Live. In 1995, ABC affiliate KGO Radio premiered The Brian Copeland Show. Its unique mix of talk and entertainment soon made it the most listened to program in its time slot. In 2004, Copeland premiered his first solo play, Not a Genuine Black Man, at the Marsh. This critically acclaimed exploration of race and identity created an audience-pleasing blend of laughter, tears, and sociology that led to the show becoming the longest-running solo play in San Francisco theatrical history. Successful runs in Los Angeles and off Broadway and a bestselling book adaptation followed. Brian’s other theatrical work includes The Waiting Period, a solo play about his lifelong struggle with depression; the Christmas play The Jewelry Box, which opened November 2013 at the Marsh; and the critically acclaimed The Scion, which opened in San Francisco in February 2014. Visit

(Photo by Joan Marcus)

David Ford · Director

David is a Goldie Award-winning playwright who has worked on countless solo shows over his 25-year career in the business. Frequently working on projects at the Marsh, David has collaborated with many Bay Area favorites including Charlie Varon, Marilyn Pitman, Geoff Hoyle, and Cherry Terror.

David Hines · Technical Director / Lighting Director

David is a San Francisco-based sound and lighting designer who has been with Not a Genuine Black Man since its premiere, and is designer and stage manager for all of Brian Copeland’s subsequent shows. He is also sound designer for Lortel Award-nominee Dan Hoyle.

Additional credits

Victoria Hendrix · Light board programmer
Kelly Kunaniec · Electrics overhire

“Personal, painful and often hilarious…Episodes of cruelty, humiliation, struggle and resilience punctuate the narrative, delivered most often with the innocence and bewilderment of a child, and generating laugh after laugh, before reflection…Copeland’s skill (and presumably that of collaborator/director David Ford) gives the narrative a seamless flow. It’s at once familiar and unique, funny and painful and poignant.”—Huffington Post

“Copeland has that special blend of comedy and drama; his show is amusing and ardent.”—SF Weekly

“Copeland’s ability to captivate an audience rivals many a celebrated solo predecessor from Ruth Draper to Spalding Gray to Whoopi Goldberg…Copeland is a genuine discovery.”—LA Times

“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

“Engaging…Copeland knows how to spin a dramatic yarn.”—New York Times

Watch now

Meet Brian

Spend a couple of minutes with Brian and hear about the inspiration for his show.

Introducing Not a Genuine Black Man

Check out this CBS-5 interview with the creator and performer of Not a Genuine Black Man.