Thursday, March 10, 2011

(Picture from the NY Daily Post, through Google)

I just stol..I mean bought the latest copy of Ebony Magazine. In honor of April Fool's month, Ebony placed Steve Harvey, Monique and Chris Rock on the cover and interviewed each. While it was not surprising that these three greats were on the cover, it was surprising that one man's name was not mentioned at all. I read the book from cover to cover. Ok, I skimmed through the whole thing but I got the most important parts.

Ebony, through the survey conducted by the public, (I didn't know about it) picked the top twenty black stand-ups that ever lived. And I must admit, I was happy to see the younger comedians that were on there, from Eddie Murphy Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Sinbad, Chris Rock and others. Redd Foxx, whose comedic genius has not really been talked about like Rock or Murphy, was mentioned.

But what disappointed me the most was there was not one mention of the man Dick Gregory. Dick Gregory, who hails from St. Louis, MI, like Redd Foxx and Cedric the Entertainer, was/is a true pioneer of black comedy and stand up for the past 50 years. Mr. Gregory spent his early years performing in front of all-white audiences and gave his thoughts on racism, politics and poverty in ways that made people laugh, but also changed the way they thought of Black Americans.

Dick Gregory was the first Black American to be on the Tonight Show with Jack Parr. At that time blacks were not allowed to even sit on the show! When he was invited to perform, he declined due to that very stigma, until Jack Paar called him and told him to please come and sit. It was the first that White Americans saw a black man on televison in a natural, one-on-one human conversation.

When his comedy career was taking off, so was the Civil Rights movement. At his zenith, he sacrificed his career for the rights of blacks and the poor, rather than the glamor and flashing lights on the red carpet.

"I am really enjoying the new Martin Luther King Jr stamp – just think about all those white bigots, licking the backside of a black man."

"Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten."

These are just a few of the thousands of jokes over a career spanning since the late 1950s.
Once a year, the Mark Twain Prize Award for Humor is awarded Since 1998, when Richard Pryor received it, the award highlights those that have made millions laugh using great wit and humor, and also the ability to highlight social issue, as what Mark Twain did.

Dick Gregory is so deserving of this award. He should also be on the list of one of the greatest standup comedians to ever pick up a mic. Being a friend of his, a fellow comedian, and having met Mr. Gregory back in 2009 with my father, even at the age of 79, Mr. Gregory never looked sharper. So, I do hope that he's considered for the Mark Twain award. Now, if you'll excuse me, I got to finish this magazine before I return it to the Doctor's office.

Peace Fam.

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