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On Her Pillow: Too True Tales of Black Little White Girl

By Nicholas Korn · June 2nd, 2012 · Fringe
on her pillow_paul wilson'On Her Pillow' - Photo: Paul Wilson
Honour Pillow probably already knows that she’s going to have a tough time making you feel sorry for her when she takes the stage for her solo show at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Having spent the early part of her career as a runway model in New York, she bears a fine resemblance to Julia Roberts with Halle Berry’s complexion, and it’s that issue of racial identity that fuels the better part of this personal history and emotional travelogue.

She recounts being raised in the small town of Addyston, a community located on the map at the point where Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky meet, and this juncture of differences plays out as a metaphor for both her parents’ interracial marriage and the town’s inability to accept their family as a normal.

The later segments of the show follow her to Chicago and Las Vegas, where she begins her difficult, but eventually successful, career as a stand-up comedian. Pillow’s sense of humor, however, is evident from the start, and the stories of her family’s penchant for moving into the house next door, her attempt to start a Cultural Diversity Awareness Club in high school, and the deliriously schizoid battle between her white and black personalities are great fun.

Fittingly, the section where she covers her days in Chicago, learning the art of the standup routine seem to be the best rooted.

Her delivery of what it means to bomb in front of a Laugh Shack audience is hilarious, especially considering how hard it is to make an audience respond to jokes that don’t really work. Although it seems at first like a bit of a throwaway, her elegy to the microphone, which she refers to her has her friend “Mike,” says a lot about where this show works and where it falls short, and her comfort in front of the mic is obvious.

Pillow definitely has great feel for the art of comedy, and she’s able to drive the show when she’s onstage, but the script has her leaving behind a partition either to grab a prop or costume piece, and the delays sap the show of its energy.

Also, clocking in at an hour and a half, the show is about 20 minutes too long. Pillow opts for a rather relaxed and conversational delivery throughout most of the show, where a tighter, more driven comedic style might have served the material and the audience better.

In the final segment of the show, she details her battle with cervical cancer. It forces her to reassess her life and ambition, and wonder “why she has lived her life with such urgency.” Supported by the family that she left behind, and the husband she obviously adores, she recovers and moves back to Cincinnati.

Several other persons share the stage, most notably Allie Pillow, who opens the show as Honour’s younger self, and two musicians, Jamie Garry and Justin Street, who play the acoustic and electric guitar respectively (and respectfully).

In then end, Honour Pillow may have given you reasons enough to feel sorry for her. But you won’t want to because you know that hers is an accomplished, funny and deepened spirit that still has a long way to go.



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