Born into violence of South Bronx ghetto life, the comic pioneer of TV’s Good Times fame offers a hilarious and politically charged review of his career as one of television’s first hugely successful Black stars. From opening for the Black Panthers and getting his first Tonight Show spot to becoming the first “Black” TV sitcom star, having comedians David Letterman and Jay Leno writing jokes for him, recording a #1 comedy albums, and opening for rock n’ roll bands in 50,000 seat stadiums, Walker’s career hit all the highs.
Of course, celebrities seldom stay at such highs. But despite going from the cover of TV Guide to a journeyman comedian, Walker’s story is one of courage and unbridled belief in oneself. He never crashed-and-burned like so many in his profession — notably fellow comedians like Richard Pryor and Freddie Prinze. Instead, he kept at his profession through 300 comedy gigs per year, remembering where he came from and where hard work had got him. He developed view of the world through a conservative social lens — and as a black man in the entertainment industry he surprised many — and pissed off others — with his “Conservative” views.
In his stand-up routine in 1974, Jimmy frequently told this joke:
“I think pretty soon there is going to be a black President. Inaugural theme be playing the “Theme From Shaft.” Prez pulls up--white El Dorado, white bucket seats, bubble top. Prez gets out, tilts his beaver skin hat to the side, braids flowing down his shoulders, looks at the crowd and says, Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, I am very happy to be elected President of these great United States. But moreover, I am even happier to be elected the first black President of these great United States. Right now, I’d like to give you the Inaugural Address but first…the number for today: 7-5-6. You got it? Then you the vice president!”
Its 2011… we now have President Barack Obama. Yet Jimmy Walker — ever the outspoken contrarian recently escorted conservative columnist Ann Coulter to an awards ceremony. Walker is a frequent guest on Letterman and the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. And J.J. Evan’s “Dyn-o-mite!” endures — and was recently voted by People Magazine as one of the “The Greatest Moments In Pop Culture, 1974-2011.”