The Best Dick Gregory Story

“The best Dick Gregory story is the time in 1961 when he got up in front of a largely white audience and delivered the joke about the white waitress at a restaurant in the South telling him that they don’t serve colored people. The joke ends: ‘That’s all right. I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ It is hard to know now how many people laughed. Or maybe the best Dick Gregory story is the one where he ran for mayor of Chicago in 1967, a campaign during which he was arrested by United States Treasury agents for printing and handing out fake dollar bills with his picture on them as a part of his campaign literature. Or else the best Dick Gregory story is the one about how, in 1971, he went without solid food for over two years to protest the war in Vietnam—once running 900 miles, from Chicago to Washington, D.C. Black comedians in America have the luxury of telling jokes the same as all other comedians. But somewhere in their careers, all comedians decide whether the jokes are going to be more than just jokes; either hard commentaries, or a way of archiving community, or a way of healing pain, or a way to help guide important dialogues, or a combination of all those things. It bears mentioning that Dick Gregory spent only a portion of his life making a career of stand-up comedy. But that portion, most of it in the early 1960s, was a time when most black people weren’t telling jokes in white clubs, and definitely not telling jokes to white people about white people. Gregory was able to cross over to white audiences successfully, and he somehow did it without really bowing to those audiences, or toning down the way he articulated his discomfort with the world. At its best, comedy is equal parts truth-telling and storytelling, so there is no mystery as to why Dick Gregory excelled at it. Still, at his core, he was an activist, a forward-thinking revolutionary who just happened to know how to spin a tale rich enough to keep people laughing. …”
Pacific Standard
Remembering the Late and Great Dick Gregory
Saturday Evening Post: How Dick Gregory Found Laughter in Ugliness
YouTube: Dick Gregory presidential candidacy interview, 1968

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in 1968 DNC, Dick Gregory, Vietnam War and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Best Dick Gregory Story

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s