Sunday 20th August, one of the living legends of the stand-up comedy industry passed away. It is none other than Mr Dick Gregory. He died at the age of 84.
Mr Dick Gregory was arguably the best African-American humourist the world has ever seen. Apart from being a humourist he was also a spokesperson of racism, war, social protest and the increasing power of corporations, mixing in sharp satiric commentary that cut deep and revealed disturbing truths.
Mr Gregory was the first man in history to come and give an interview in the popular television show “The Jack Parr Tonight Show”. After a few years Gregory said,” Never before had white America let a black person stand flat-footed and talk to white folks. You could dance and you could stop in between the dance and tell how tired your feet are. Or Sammy (Davis) could stop in between and tell a joke. But you could not walk out and talk to white America.”
Dick Gregory Stand Up early 1960’s. Archive film 97974
Video Source: Huntley Film Archives
Mr Dick Gregory was taught the world the importance of calling out hypocrisy and injustice, and standing in one’s truth as a humourist. Some of the few instances are depicted below:
- He called his autobiography, written during the civil rights movement, “nigger.” His reason: “Remember, whenever you hear the word they are advertising my book.”
- On income tax: “I wouldn’t mind paying it, if I knew it was going to a friendly country.”
- On the difference between the North and South: “For a black man, there’s no difference. In the South, they don’t mind how close I get, as long as I don’t get too big. In the North, they don’t mind how big I get, as long as I don’t get too close.”
In the year 1968, Mr Gregory also decided to contest against the segregationist George Wallace for the seat of the president. But the amazing fact was Mr Gregory, though he did not win but still got 50,000 write in votes.
I truly hope and believe that his ideologies do go on forever. May the force be with him!
Image Source: Tribeca Film