If you were to look up the definition of the word versatility in a dictionary of performers, chances are you’d find the name Brian Copeland. The multitalented comedian, writer, television host, talk radio host, and commentator has basked in the glow of both public and critical acclaim for nearly a decade.
Copeland’s incisive, cutting edge standup comedy material and his unique ability to hilariously cut to the heart of some of our most serious social and political problems has earned him spots as the opening act for such diverse artists as Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Dionne Warwick, Donna Summer, Peabo Bryson, Al Jarreau, Ringo Starr, Manhattan Transfer, James Brown, Rick Springfield, Lionel Richie, George Benson, Etta James, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, and the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. In addition to performing in clubs and concert halls across America, he has appeared at such venues as Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Taj Mahal and Trump Palace in Atlantic City, and Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
Copeland’s quick wit and probing interview style earned him a five year position as co-host of San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU’s top rated breakfast program Mornings on 2 where he did everything from man on the street comedy bits to chatting up stars such as Dustin Hoffman and Garth Brooks. His biting social commentary segment Copeland’s Corner appeared daily on KTVU’s Noon News prompting San Francisco Examiner columnist Rob Morse to call Copeland ‘the best commentator on television’.
Copeland’s work on television and stage soon caught the attention of San Francisco ABC radio affiliate KGO which premiered The Brian Copeland Show. With his unique blend of humor and riveting talk, the show soon became the most listened to program in its time slot reaching over 100,000 listeners. In 2002, KGO debuted a radio version of Copeland’s Corner during its Afternoon News. In 2003, the commentary was honored by the Associated Press with an award for Best Regularly Scheduled Feature Segment. Copeland’s Corner also received the Radio Television News Directors 2003 award for best news writing.
In 2004, Brian premiered his first one man show, Not A Genuine Black Man, at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. The show deals with the lingering effects of Copeland’s childhood spent as an African American in the then 99.99 percent white Bay Area suburb of San Leandro, considered in the 1960s and ‘70s to be one of America’s most racist enclaves. The show’s themes of isolation, racial identity, and redemption struck a central nerve in audiences.
The San Francisco Chronicle called it, “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.”
Genuine went on to run for over two years, becoming the longest running solo show in San Francisco theatrical history. The show went on to acclaimed runs in Los Angeles and Off Broadway. A bestselling memoir based on the show and the attention of Hollywood soon followed. Not A Genuine Black Man is being developed as a feature film and a television series.
In 2007, director Rob Reiner cast Copeland as Lee Chambers, the son of Morgan Freeman’s character, in the feature film, The Bucket List starring Freeman and Jack Nicholson.
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