A Reboot of Comedy Classics

Host, Dave Schwensen, and his friends Kelly, Tom, and Logan have chosen some of their favorite comedians from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. They take a look at how these comedians got started, their most successful comedy albums, and their lasting influence today!


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Dick Gregory is A Force to Reckon With

**Bonus Episode**

Dick Gregory broke barriers for African American comics. In fact, he was the first black comedian to sit next to Jack Paar becoming a trailblazer for other black comedians. He had a very successful comedy career, but he felt the call of civil rights activism which took priority over making people laugh. Not only did Dick Gregory run for mayor of Chicago, a year later he ran for President of the United States and even put his face on the $1 bill. He went on to become an actor, a health guru, and an author. The one thing he was committed to throughout his whole life was justice. Let’s take a listen to his very first album from 1961 “In Living Black and White.”

The album we're listening to today is: "In Living Black and White," written and performed by Dick Gregory with introduction by Alex Dreier, Colpix Records 1961

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Logan: Instagram: @loganrishaw, Twitter: @logansaidthis

Sarah Willgrube:

Hi, this is Sarah. I'd like to thank you for listening to this season of What's So Funny! We are currently on hiatus while we gear up for next season but when we return, we'll be talking about the same great era of comedy, but in a brand new way. Enough from me, let's get on with the show.

Announcer:

Welcome to What's So Funny! A comedy podcast where we talk about some of the most influential and controversial comedy albums from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Sit back, relax, and get ready to laugh. Here's your host, Dave Schwensen.

Dave Schwensen:

Wow, listen to that applause. Hi, I'm Dave Schwensen and today I'm joined by Logan Rishaw.

Logan Rishaw:

Hi, Dave. It's good to be back on the show.

Dave Schwensen:

Well, I'm excited about the comic we're going to be talking about today, the legendary, and they're all legends on the show, by the way.

Logan Rishaw:

Of course. Every single one of them.

Dave Schwensen:

But we're going to be talking about Dick Gregory and his 1961 album In Living Black And White.

Logan Rishaw:

This is a fantastic album. It's the first one he put out.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes.

Logan Rishaw:

It was filmed live at the prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah. And you know, it was a last minute booking. He was filling in for professor Irwin Corey, who was a very well-known comedian at that time. Matter of fact, he's the first really headlining comedian I met when I went to the New York City Improv, when I was managing that club. My first night as manager, he came in about 3:30 in the morning and we put him on stage and he was up there until about 4:00, 4:30 in the morning. It was just quite an experience to see this guy because he was, again, another legend.

Logan Rishaw:

Oh, my gosh, your first night, too.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah, my first night. So...

Logan Rishaw:

That's incredible.

Dave Schwensen:

But anyway, he couldn't make the show, and Dick Gregory was the fill in act. We're talking 1961. They had this awful horrible thing of segregation going on. You really did not have black comedians playing in white clubs. I know it sounds horrible now, but that's what it was.

Logan Rishaw:

Right, he was one of the first to really perform comedy for a white audience-

Dave Schwensen:

A white audience, basically. They didn't play the white clubs. And Dick Gregory was discovered by Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy. People right away they think of the magazine, well, the Playboy pinups and all this, but you know, Hefner really opened up a lot of eyes, a lot of minds. And he saw Dick Gregory in a primarily black nightclub in Chicago and thought he was really funny and hired him to fill in for professor Irwin Corey.

Dave Schwensen:

Dick Gregory was going to this Playboy Club to do the show that night. He got lost, he didn't know where it was. He was on a bus. He had like 40 cents in his pocket, he said. I saw in an interview. And he got off at the wrong stop and it was a blizzard and snowing, and he finally saw the marquee for the Playboy Club and he made it. But he didn't find out that they had called and tried to cancel him.

Logan Rishaw:

Right, because they saw their audience then.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah.

Logan Rishaw:

Yeah. I saw I'm talking about that in an interview, an all-white audience and they were Southern businessmen, and they were trying to call him frantically. Like, "Please don't come. We'll still pay you, but we don't think this is the right crowd." And he ended up there anyways and killed.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah. He had a great set. They loved him. A lot of laughter. Hugh Hefner and everyone was so impressed. He gave Dick Gregory a contract for, I don't know, maybe a year's long contract to play, the Playboy Clubs, which at that time, again, 1961, that's really before the Comedy Club era.

Logan Rishaw:

Yeah. This was like unheard of at the time.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes. I mean, you played nightclubs, you played theaters, those sorts of things when you were comedians. So when he got this, it became a big, big deal. It made him a star. And again, it opened the door for the other black comedians that followed.

Dave Schwensen:

Our first track we're going to play off the album, In Living Black And White by Dick Gregory is called Comedians Of The Sixties.

Announcer:

Whenever he pauses and reflects upon his short career Greg can't help but realize the responsibilities facing the humorous these days. So listen.

Comedy Clip:

What do you demand out of a comic today? Good story, good plot, psychological reasoning and above all, it must be funny. And you wonder why we're sick, huh? 20 years ago, two comics walk on the stage and go something like this. "Hey, man, who was that crazy chick I saw you with last night?" And the other guy said, "Man, it wasn't no chick. That's my wife." No, that's all of the joke. That's it. That's what they told 20 years ago. But you expect more out of us today, and we give you more. That's why we ask for more money. "Hey man, who's that crazy chick I saw you with last night?" "Man, that was no chick. That's my brother. He just got a problem."

Comedy Clip:

You know, a lot of people ask me, they say, "Greg, how come you always talk about the South?" Well, I was born and raised down South. I can talk about it if I want to. Matter of fact, I was born so far South, had my mother taking one step back I'd have been a Mexican." Not that far.

Comedy Clip:

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, but we had our problems there, and I'll never forget, 1951, they integrated the swimming pools and all our parents made us get out there whether you could swim or not. "Just go, get wet. Go." Telling my people, damn it. You want to be with them people, you go. You won't get me in all that water. Even though they don't like me anyway. And I can't swim.

Comedy Clip:

They were nice too. When I found out what happened, you didn't need know how to swim. They're real nice to us. I knew they had to integrate. They had a new lifeguard for us. He was blind.

Comedy Clip:

It was a glorious day. We all walk out to that integrated swimming pool, diving board, 50 feet in the air. We got up on that diving board. They blew the whistle. We jumped and they drained the pool.

Comedy Clip:

I'm really going to have to kind of cut my show short because I have to leave here this morning and go down to North Carolina and sit in the restaurants.

Comedy Clip:

I have a kid brother been sitting in the restaurant for six months and like he's so damn sure he's not going to get waited on, he don't even take no money with him. Wouldn't it be funny if they served him and they broke? Fast didn't want them restaurant's. 11 months waiting on the integrate. They integrated it. Didn't have what I wanted.

Comedy Clip:

I went home down South all the way to Mississippi. About six months ago, visit my brother. And night before I got there. I didn't see him. I missed him. Forever. So he was driving one of them, pickup trucks and run through a red light and ran into a Ku Klux Klan parade. He'd have been 27 tomorrow.

Comedy Clip:

I went down, heard the bad news. And I started drinking. You know? And like whenever I get drunk, I think I'm Polish.

Comedy Clip:

But I got a little hungry. So I walked into the restaurant, which was the wrong restaurant, in Mississippi. Which was wrong for me to do. Because they make you think that world war II was a lawn party.

Comedy Clip:

But I walked in anyway because I like lawn parties. Basically, when I think I'm Polish.

Comedy Clip:

I walked in and thought I was defending them.

Comedy Clip:

I sit down blonde waitress walked over to me. I said I'd like two cheeseburgers. She said we don't serve colored people down here. I said I don't eat colored people nowhere. And about that time, when three brothers walked in, if you've ever been to Mississippi? You know what three brothers I'm talking about. Ku Klux and Klan.

Comedy Clip:

Big one walked up and kicked my chair. He said "Boy, you know, damn well you can't eat in here," I said, just for that, bring me a whole fried chicken. He said, "Boy you can't eat that chicken in here. And what ever you do that chicken in here, we're going to do to you," I said for a dollar and a quarter? Come with immigration, but don't rush it.

Comedy Clip:

20 minutes later, the waitress brought the chicken out and put it down in front of me. I was putting salt and pepper on it. He walked back up again and said, "Boy, by goly, we already told you, what ever you do to that chicken down here, we're going to do to you," I was feeling so good, I looked at him and told him y'all line up and I kissed it.

Dave Schwensen:

That's the one Hugh Hefner heard him do in the black nightclub and inspired him to hire Dick Gregory, to perform at the Playboy club.

Logan Rishaw:

And it's no surprise because it's a great joke.

Dave Schwensen:

It is a great joke. And you know the thing about Dick Gregory that is so groundbreaking too, it included his opinions about racism and segregation and everything, but at the time in 1961, he really couldn't come out and be so militant about it as he was later in his career.

Logan Rishaw:

That's something I definitely noticed throughout this entire album. He starts by making jokes about integration, segregation, racism, but he doesn't take a strong stance either way. He gets the crowd to acknowledge that it exists and laugh about it first.

Dave Schwensen:

Right.

Logan Rishaw:

And then later on, he kind of gets more into having stronger opinions.

Dave Schwensen:

And you know what he did. I mean, I read this also, that he had hired a comedy writer by the name of Robert Orban to write white jokes for him, white material for him, that he also still had to express himself, his opinions about being a black man in America.

Dave Schwensen:

His comedy is very strong, very opinionated and funny.

Logan Rishaw:

Right. I've seen some of his writing about it. And he had mentioned he got a white joke books and then he would kind of twist the jokes. So they were still 80% white, but then 20% black.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes. I saw that. Yes.

Logan Rishaw:

He put his own spin on everything and made it just a really unique style.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes, he really did. And you know, he got people to laugh, and that was important. And while they were laughing, he was delivering his message.

Logan Rishaw:

There's a lot of comedians that handle social satire and major issues, but he has such a good way of delicately going through it and not turning anyone off while talking about it.

Dave Schwensen:

He opened the doors. He really did. As I keep saying, he's the Jackie Robinson of comedy. He opened the doors for all the other acts that followed. And everybody could be more opinionated and stronger in their feelings and their expressions and things. Thank you to Dick Gregory for doing that.

Logan Rishaw:

Absolutely.

Dave Schwensen:

But you know, let's move on. I want to get to a second clip from this album because this really is a classic album. It's a lot of fun to listen to, but this is a clip that I don't know if, Logan, you want to introduce this one?

Logan Rishaw:

Yeah. So this is another clip that handles the politics of the day and just different topics that were going on at the time. It's called Thoughts on Outer Space.

Announcer:

Like most young men, Dick Gregory in time began to think about space. Outer space. Not the space on men's minds, but the space in their heads.

Comedy Clip:

As you know, really, as a nation, we tend to worry too much. We worry about everything and it's so wrong.

Comedy Clip:

We wondered if Russia will make it to the moon before we will, will Russia make it to the stars before we will. So what? We'd be the first to give them foreign aid. That's what counts. We won't have to worry about them people. Wouldn't it be funny if [inaudible 00:11:16], really didn't hate us, his interpreters did?

Comedy Clip:

See we're doing all right now but I'm not trying to say Russia is doing bad. They just put a one in six [inaudible 00:11:28]. Seven tons. But we're doing all right. Yeah, we got a satellite up there right now. One click take a picture of the whole earth. Now we're trying to find paper to print it on. Just to show you how far advanced we are. You ever think you'd see the day a mouse would look down at us and say, say cheese.

Comedy Clip:

We're doing all right. We just worry too damn much. We're doing all right in outer space. Up until a couple of weeks ago, they started lying to us. You read it in the papers, front page, picture headlines, Chimp returns. That's a lie. That was no chimp. That was a man we sent up there. That's what he looked like when he got back.

Comedy Clip:

They're trying not to frighten those other six boys. You know. We're doing all right.

Comedy Clip:

We found out there was somebody up there. Had a message come back the other day said, "Leave it for these monkey's and dogs, send some broads." I volunteer to go to outer space. When Ike was president, I flew all the way to Washington. I said, Mr. Ike, can I get on your outer space program? He said, what for? I said, well, I can't go to school down here.

Comedy Clip:

Hell, they caught the U-2 plane spying, and everybody in America was shook up. So Ike said, we won't do no more spying, and 12 trench coat companies went out of business.

Dave Schwensen:

You know, that's why I like listening to these older classic, comedy albums because Dick Gregory there is talking about what's in the news, which was the space program in 1961. They were trying to launch satellites. I hadn't even put a man in space yet.

Logan Rishaw:

And that's what I love about comedy in general is you're kind of hearing the everyday person's view of what's going on at that time. So you're not hearing like the history channels interview from generals or top scientists. This is just the everyday person and what they're seeing in the news.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah, and you know, they kind of, they do influence each other. With this, again, starting with Mort Saul. You know, he went on stage with his newspaper. He was talking about what's going on in the news. Dick Gregory is doing the same thing. He's commenting on what is going on in society right then and there. And he was just talking about the outer space. But again, he brought in, the fact that being a black man in America. He couldn't go to school down here. So maybe you can go to space.

Logan Rishaw:

I think that comparison to Mort Saul is a perfect lead in to our next clip. This is Congo Daily Tribune.

Announcer:

A very pleasant good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and here in the famous Chicago Playboy club, we present a man, a young man, a humorist who faces the realities of our time with a smile on his mobile face. Ladies and gentlemen, Dick Gregory.

Comedy Clip:

I wish you'd read all the papers. You know, you've been reading these local papers, you know, calling me the Negro Mark Saul. You have to read in Congo papers and see what they calling Mark Saul, the white Dick Gregory.

Comedy Clip:

Ever since I've been on the Jack Parr show everybody's been asking me what is Jack Parr really like? I'm trying to find out who I am.

Comedy Clip:

They call me Bob Newhart, Shelley Berman, Mark Saul, and a couple of... I'm so confused being three white boys and myself. I don't know where...

Comedy Clip:

The way things going, in 10 years from now, you have to be my color to get a job.

Comedy Clip:

But I'd like to thank you very wonderful people in the audience who have talked about my act and come back and bring your friends with you. And through doing this, you pushed me right up into the eyes of the eternal revenue.

Dave Schwensen:

That's Dick Gregory. And he's talking about getting well known and eternal revenue. You've made him famous now, his audiences, and he's going to have to be careful. The one thing he brought up was the Jack Parr show, which is something, is very interesting, in the legacy of Dick Gregory, the comedian.

Logan Rishaw:

Yeah. It might be one of the most pivotal parts of his comedy story, at least.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes. I agree. All the way. Jack Parr was the host of the tonight show. He came on after Steve Allen and before Johnny Carson. In those days, just like with the Carson show, if a comedian was on the Jack Parr tonight show, it would open the door for millions of people to see him. Of course, their price went up, they got to perform in all the great clubs. But a big deal was made of sitting on the couch.

Logan Rishaw:

Right? That's what you wanted because that showed that not only did the host think you were funny, but it told him or told the rest of the country that he thinks you're worth knowing.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes. And Dick Gregory didn't know this right away. He was a big fan of the Jack Parr. He's often seen in interviews saying he just watched Jack Parr. He wanted to be on the show. That was his goal. That was his goal. And it wasn't pointed out to him. Until a little bit later, a friend of his says, you notice on the Jack Parr tonight show, none of the black performers are allowed or invited to sit on the couch next to Jack Parr. Only the white performers.

Logan Rishaw:

Right? He would have people come on and perform, do songs, do stand up, but they never got to actually come over and talk for a few minutes.

Dave Schwensen:

And it broke Dick Gregory's heart because he wanted to be on that show. But he realized he couldn't do it. That's not right. It's not fair. And so when the producer of the tonight show called him and said, we're interested in you being on the show. We'd love to have you come on as a guest, he turned it down. He turned it down. Again, it was heartbreaking for him. I think he couldn't even admit to tell his wife or anyone that he just couldn't do it for this reason.

Dave Schwensen:

And finally, Jack Parr himself called Dick Gregory and said, why won't you come on my show? And Dick Gregory said, because you don't invite black people to sit on the couch and Jack Parr, for his point of view, I guess maybe he didn't realize that. Maybe it wasn't pointed out to him that way, maybe the producers had something to do with it.

Dave Schwensen:

But Jack Paar right away said, that's crazy. Yes. You come over and sit on the couch. Of course. So Dick Gregory agreed to go on.

Logan Rishaw:

Yeah. From the way that Dick Gregory tells the story, it definitely sounds like Jack Parr didn't realize what was even happening. It just wasn't something that occurred to him.

Dave Schwensen:

After that, there were so many thousands of phone calls and letters to the station from both white viewers and black viewers, mainly because what he did was when he talked about, well, they said they didn't know Negro children were the same as white children, that they had the same experiences, the same personalities, the same, whatever. I mean, again, we're so far back in the days of segregation.

Logan Rishaw:

Yeah, It's heartbreaking to think about, but going back to that time, this just, wasn't a thing that people saw and it really bridged a gap.

Dave Schwensen:

It really, truly did. It maybe started building an understanding between the races, is what it was. Between the white viewers and the black viewers. That they really weren't that different. And Dick Gregory went on to appear on the tonight show. I don't know how many times, a lot of times.

Logan Rishaw:

Over 20 times at least.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah. Became one of the most popular guests that Jack Parr had on there. And of course it allowed Dick Gregory to perform all around the country in the big venues and became very famous.

Logan Rishaw:

It opened doors for plenty of other performers as well.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes. Yes. That is true. I want to continue with this because we're exploring Dick Gregory's album In Living Black and White from 1961. So here's Dick Gregory. Not Poor, Just busted.

Announcer:

Like every young man Greg has had his troubles, no job and no money.

Comedy Clip:

Yeah. I had a little trouble one time, I went to see a doctor. Put me on the couch and started me talking. Now he'd doing my act in St. Louis.

Comedy Clip:

I come all the way up from the South to get a job. And the fella interviewing me say, how far did you go to school? I say about three miles. I got the job. Best job I ever had in my life. All I had to do was throw mail.

Comedy Clip:

Guy walked up and said, "Hey, how long have you been working here?" I say "About 45 minutes," he said, "You know, darn good and well, you never learned how to throw mail that fast in just 45 minutes," I said, "Buddy, I can do better than this. If I could read."

Comedy Clip:

Remember the day I walked in your office, that was three days before that dude fired me. He sent me a letter. I got the letter. Carried it home. Read it.

Comedy Clip:

Come back in about three days, he looked at me and said, "What are you doing here?" I said, "I come back to work," "What do you mean come back to work, we fired you. Didn't you get the letter?" I said, "Yeah I got the letter." He said, "You read it?" I said, "I read it, inside and out." He said "If you read the letter, what'd you come back for?" I said, "The inside of the letter said Dear, Mr. Gregory, you're fired. The outside said return in three days, so here I am."

Comedy Clip:

Best job I've ever had in my life, and I got fired again. I just gave it up that time. Moved out to the West coast, and got me a job working for a wine company. Good job. Way I like wine and they pay me?

Comedy Clip:

All I had to do was take off my shoes and socks and step on grapes. I got fired. They caught me sitting down on the job.

Comedy Clip:

See what happened? There's a woman, steal $2 million from a bank. And the federal government stepped in and told the people in Sheldon, Iowa, don't worry. The bank was insured. We'll pay the $2 million back. Have you ever known the government to come out behind?

Comedy Clip:

They told them they paid the $2 million back, but what happened? They rounded up all in big boys on that anti-trust. And wasn't that a coincidence, they fined them $2 million?

Comedy Clip:

So you read the papers. She got 15 years in jail, that means she'd do five and she's out three.

Comedy Clip; Audience:

Gets out in three.

Comedy Clip:

Three. Yeah, you know about all that then. This is what it is. Oh, don't get upset. You come in, how'd you like if I come on your job and knock the shovel out your hand?

Comedy Clip:

You read the papers and you...

Comedy Clip:

How are you? All right. Trying to get you to shut up, like trying to explain integration to a lynch mob.

Dave Schwensen:

Those are some tough heckler put down lines. He's using there. Dick Gregory.

Logan Rishaw:

Yeah. One thing he doesn't get enough credit for is how good he is at working with the crowd and working against the crowd if he needs to.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah, I think that really came... He worked some tough clubs on his way up. I'm pretty sure he had a lot of experience at crowd work. When he moved into the more, what you might want to call it, the more upscale crowds he would get at the Playboy club, I'm sure he had no problem handling them.

Logan Rishaw:

And a lot of the quips that he came up with the crowd ended up working their way into his normal sets. Now, one thing we haven't talked about yet that I do want to make sure we touch on is this narration style that we're hearing before every clip.

Dave Schwensen:

You know, I was wondering about that because it's so different from other comedy albums.

Logan Rishaw:

It's a fascinating way to do it. From what I learned, it was actually a narrator named Alex Drear who was a famous Chicago television personality.

Dave Schwensen:

Okay.

Logan Rishaw:

So, newscaster in the area who actually did a lot for civil rights and other big movements at the time.

Dave Schwensen:

Well, I wonder why they had to do it on the Dick Gregory album. That always kind of confused me with this, because you listen to other comedy albums, even from the early sixties, late fifties, they never had a narrator. I wonder if it was just trying to be maybe artistic.

Logan Rishaw:

It definitely makes him seem very important. If you've never heard of Dick Gregory before, you hear this narrator and you think it's someone you need to hear.

Dave Schwensen:

You know, that's a very good point of view there. And they called him Greg.

Logan Rishaw:

He had one quote about Dick Gregory that I think sums up his act very well, which is there is no problem so serious that it cannot be leavened with humor. This is Dick Gregory's credo.

Dave Schwensen:

I'm going to listen to another clip from this album. It's called 50,000 Feet Up and No Insurance.

Announcer:

Not too long ago, Greg went up in a plane for the first time. He had some conclusions about plane travel.

Comedy Clip:

I got on one of them jet planes. Flying back here to Chicago and everything happened on the plane, with just three of us on the plane, pilot, copilot, and myself. So I kind of dozed off and went to sleep and copilot come shaking me and said, "Buddy, buddy, wake up," I said, "Wake up for what?" He said, "I just want you to know the pilots the last one to leave the plane." I said, "What are you telling about it for?" He said, "He jumped 10 minutes ago."

Comedy Clip:

He looked at me talking about, what are you going to do about it? I said, buddy, I just did it.

Comedy Clip:

Any time I get on an airplane something happen. I was flying back from Europe not too long ago and everything happened. Pilot turned the radio on and friends when the pilot turn the radio on, on one of those planes and talk to you about trouble, forget it. That's a record. He's already jumped.

Comedy Clip:

He turned around and said, ladies and gentlemen, in the benefit of saving the lives of 127 persons aboard this plane. Three of you people are going to have to jump. Said, I like to repeat, three of you men will have to jump in order to save everyone aboard this plane. Everybody looking at me.

Comedy Clip:

And if they knew what I knew. They wouldn't be looking at me, because I had already figured out who them three was going to be. And they kept looking. I had to explain to them, [inaudible 00:25:15], I don't even jump out my bed.

Comedy Clip:

About that time, fellow stood up. He says, I'm from France, in the name of France, in order to save everyone aboard this plane, viva la France, I'll jump, and walked to the door. And he jumped.

Comedy Clip:

About that time, the little delicate fellow stood up. He says, I'm from England, in the name of the Queen, long live the Queen. In order to save everyone aboard this plane, I'll jump. And he walked to the door, and sure enough, he jumped. I'm sitting back there wondering who that other nut going to be.

Comedy Clip:

About that time, big tall fellow stood up, blocked his hat, looked around and said, I'm from Texas. In the name of Texas, walked back to the door, picked up a Mexican, remember the [inaudible 00:25:57]. And the guy was really Hawaiian.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah, that sums it all up. Dick Gregory. Back in 1961, he was making a statement then. He became better known in the late sixties, early seventies, eighties for his activism because he did fight against racism and different things and segregation. And not just that, but also like, I mean like women's rights and fair pay, equal pay, different things going on, worked with, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, for equal rights, civil rights in the sixties. He was very active in that.

Dave Schwensen:

He would turn down shows if there was a protest going on, it was more important for him, to be at protest.

Logan Rishaw:

As time went on he became much less of a performer or at least less of a comedian and focused almost entirely on activism. And there's not many movements he wasn't a part of.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah, exactly. And I think it was even in the late sixties, he ran for mayor of Chicago. He lost.

Logan Rishaw:

And then naturally, immediately decided to run for president.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes. He ran for president.

Logan Rishaw:

Part of the push to get people to go out and vote for him was a campaign where he printed, fake $1 bills...

Dave Schwensen:

Oh yes.

Logan Rishaw:

... With his face on it.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes.

Logan Rishaw:

And started passing them out. And the FBI had to start confiscating them.

Dave Schwensen:

Yes.

Logan Rishaw:

Because they were so realistic that you could put them into a change machine and get four quarters.

Dave Schwensen:

Yeah. You get all these Dick Gregory dollar bills and you put them in a change machine and get actual money for them. They're still out there. Some of those. They're being sold as collector's items.

Logan Rishaw:

Oh yeah. You can definitely get them.

Dave Schwensen:

I'm pretty sure, Ebay. And another part of the Dick Gregory legacy. But he went on to perform up until not too long ago. I think about 2017, he was still performing. And he would come out and he would do comedy first, almost like warming up the crowd a little bit.

Dave Schwensen:

He would be very humorous and funny. Then he would do a message about what was going on in the world and how to fix this.

Logan Rishaw:

For a while there he shied away from comedy clubs themselves. He's a very strong anti-drug advocate to the point where he's also pretty strongly against alcohol. And in some interviews he said for a while there, he didn't feel comfortable going to comedy clubs because of that.

Dave Schwensen:

People need to realize how strong his opinions, his voice was in the sixties. And to protest things he would go on hunger strikes.

Logan Rishaw:

So we've just listened to Dick Gregory's 1961 album In Living Black and White.

Dave Schwensen:

Right. His first comedy album.

Logan Rishaw:

His very first, but that's not the only one. So if you still want to hear more, he's got over a dozen comedy albums spanning decades.

Dave Schwensen:

He does. And he's written books and you know, he's all over YouTube. You can watch his speeches. Some of the things he talked about, but the bottom line is Dick Gregory was a comedian to start out with. A very funny person. And it's really been a lot of fun to look back at what he was doing all those years ago that no one else was doing at the time.

Logan Rishaw:

It's one of those albums, that was great then. And it's great now.

Dave Schwensen:

It's classic now.

Logan Rishaw:

It's a classic.

Dave Schwensen:

All right, Logan, I hope you had a good time today. I know I did.

Logan Rishaw:

I had a lot of fun, Dave. Thanks for having me back.

Dave Schwensen:

Well, it was good to see you and thank you for listening. This has been, What's So Funny!

Dave Schwensen:

I'm your host, Dave Schwensen.

Logan Rishaw:

And I'm Logan Rishaw. Thank you for listening to What's So Funny!

Dave Schwensen:

Yes. Thank you very much. And as always, keep laughing.

Announcer:

Thanks for listening to What's So Funny! That's all we have for you. For now. Be sure to check back in for the next season of comedy classics. Special thanks to executive producers, Joan Andrews and Michael DeAloia, producer, Sarah Willgrube, and audio engineer, Eric Koltnow.

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