Richard Pryor's son hopes to get laughs in Peoria

Danielle Hatch

You'd think that being Richard Pryor's son would mean that all kinds of doors swing wide open for you.

According to Mason Pryor - the legendary comedian's 21-year-old son, who will perform at Jukebox Comedy Club on Sunday - sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

"Nowadays, it really doesn't work with the ladies," he said. "You tell a girl 'I'm Richard Pryor's son' and they go, 'Who's that? The guy with the afro?'"

He must be hitting on girls who don't know the first thing about comedy. You know, Richard Pryor? The pioneer who inspired generations of comedians, who broke barriers with his art form, who once was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood?

Mason Pryor has huge footsteps to follow in, but he's on the right path. The Columbus, Ohio, native has been performing stand-up for only a year, but he's already performed in clubs from Philadelphia to Indianapolis.

"Pretty much wherever I can get my hands on a mic, I'm going," said Pryor, whose dad is worshipped in the comedy business. "When you hear that name, who's going to say 'no' to that? So, that has helped me out."

Pryor's mother is Geraldine Mason, a model and actor who met his father on the set of the 1986 film "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling." Mason Pryor (his birth name is Franklin, but he uses both of his parents' surnames now) has dabbled in modeling and acting before taking up comedy - a somewhat intimidating endeavor, at first.

"I was always really shy and afraid to do comedy at first. It's like being Michael Jordan's son and playing basketball," he said.

But he tried comedy at an amateur event, and got laughs.

"My first night, I loved it and I couldn't get off stage," he said.

Pryor says he is one of "six or seven" children of Richard Pryor, who was married six times.

"I was one of the younger ones, I'm what they call the post-fire (children)," Pryor said, referring to the 1980 incident in which his father suffered severe burns to half of his body after freebasing cocaine.

This will be Mason Pryor's first trip to Peoria as an adult. He was here once as a baby, he said, but doesn't remember anything about the visit to the town where his father was raised in his grandmother's brothel. Pryor died in 2005 after suffering a heart attack in his Encino, Calif., home. He was 65.

Jukebox Comedy Club owner Dan Conlin said he hopes the crowd doesn't put unreasonable expectations on Pryor - who, with just one year of experience, is a "comedy baby."

"He's coming here as a new comic, getting stage time and working on what he's learned in the last year," Conlin said. "I'm just going to be glad to meet him and welcome him to Peoria."

As the opening act, Pryor will get about 15 to 20 minutes on stage. Courtney Gee, from HBO's "Def Comedy Jam" and BET's "Comic View," will headline, and Kevin Williams from "Last Comic Standing" is the emcee.

Pryor said he's not sure how long he'll stay in Peoria.

"I might stay the next day, honestly I don't know. It depends on if Peoria loves me or if I'm shunned," he said with a laugh."

Danielle Hatch can be reached at(309)

If you go

What: "Get Yo Laff On," featuring Courtney Gee, Kevin Williams and Mason Pryor.

When: 8 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Jukebox Comedy Club, 3527 W. Farmington Road.

Tickets: $20 at the door or $15 in advance at (309) 673-5853 or online at