Dave Chappelle won his first Emmy Award on Sunday, thanks to his “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut just days after Donald Trump was elected president. Chappelle’s November 12 “SNL” episode delivered the franchise’s season high in adults 18-49 and total viewers, and the show’s highest 18-49 rating since 2013.
And now, it has delivered Chappelle an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. The comedian won the statuette Sunday in a field that included two other “SNL” hosts: Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Dick Gregory, who became the first black stand-up comic to break the color barrier in major nightclubs in the early 1960s, a decade in which he satirized segregation and race relations in his act and launched his lifetime commitment to civil rights and other social justice issues, died Saturday. He was 84.
His death was confirmed on his official social media accounts by his family. “It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend and civil rights activist Mr. Dick Gregory departed this earth tonight in Washington, DC.,” his son Christian Gregory wrote. Even before the confirmation from the family, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Gregory’s, had memorialized him in a tweet: “He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live. Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”
In a life that began in poverty in St. Louis during the Depression, the former Southern Illinois University track star became known as an author, lecturer, nutrition guru and self-described agitator who marched, ran and fasted to call attention to issues ranging from police brutality to world famine. An invitation from civil rights leader Medgar Evers to speak at voter registration rallies in Jackson, Miss., in 1962 launched Gregory into what he called “the civil rights fight.” He was frequently arrested for his activities in the ’60s, and once spent five days in jail in Birmingham, Ala. after joining demonstrators in 1963 at the request of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Gregory, who was shot in the leg while trying to help defuse the Watts riots in 1965, made a failed run for mayor of Chicago as a write-in candidate in 1967. A year later, he ran for president as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, a splinter group of the Peace and Freedom Party. Hunter S. Thompson was one of his most vocal supporters.
In the late ’60s, Gregory began going on 40-day fasts to protest the Vietnam War. In 1980, impatient with President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis, he flew to Iran and began a fast, had a “ceremonial visit” with revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and met with the revolutionary students inside the embassy. After four and a half months in Iran, his weight down to 106 pounds, he returned home.
But before Dick Gregory the activist, there was Dick Gregory the groundbreaking comedian. He was a struggling 28-year-old stand-up comic in Chicago who had launched his career in small black clubs when he received a life-changing, last-minute phone call from his agent in January 1961: The prestigious Playboy Club in Chicago needed someone to fill in for comedian Irwin Corey on Sunday night. Gregory was so broke he had to borrow a quarter from his landlord for bus fare downtown. Never mind that his audience turned out to be a convention of white frozen-food-industry executives from the South.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” Gregory said, coolly eyeing the audience. “I understand there are a good many Southerners in the room tonight. I know the South very well. I spent 20 years there one night. …“Last time I was down South, I walked into this restaurant, and this white waitress came up to me and said: ‘We don’t serve colored people here.’ I said: ‘That’s all right, I don’t eat colored people. Bring me a whole fried chicken.’ ”Despite having to deal with what he later described as “dirty, little, insulting statements” from some members of the audience, the heckling soon stopped as Gregory won them over with his provocatively funny but nonbelligerent satirical humor.
“Segregation is not all bad,” he said on stage. “Have you ever heard of a wreck where the people on the back of the bus got hurt?” What was supposed to be a 55-minute show, Gregory later recalled, went on for about an hour and 40 minutes. And by the time he walked off stage, the audience gave him a thundering ovation. He did so well, he was booked at the club for two weeks and then held over for several more.
Reynaldo Rey, an actor and comedian whose dozens of credits include big-screen comedies Friday and White Men Can’t Jump and a recurring role on TV’s 227, died Thursday in Los Angeles of complications from a stroke last year. He was 75. His manager Vanzil Burke confirmed the news.
Although a staple on the African-American comedy scene for years, the Oklahoma native got a late start to his screen acting career, earning his first credit at 41 for the Sanford & Son spinoff Sanford, starring Redd Foxx. He appeared in the 1982’s Young Doctors In Love and the Eddie Murphy-Richard Pryor gangster flick Harlem Nights before landing a recurring role as Ray on the popular NBC sitcom 227. He appeared in nearly 20 episodes during its four-year run and also wrote a pair of episodes.
Born Harold Reynolds, the actor went on to appear in several film comedies during the 1990s including White Men Can’t Jump with Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, The Breaks, House Party 3. He perhaps is best known for playing Red’s father in 1995’s Friday.
Rey also did episodes of such TV comedies as The Wayans Bros, The Parent ‘Hood and later The Bernie Mac Show and Everybody Hates Chris. He continued to appear in small films throughout the 2000s. His final project was “Hollywood P.O.”, a play he wrote, directed and financed.
Chris Tucker’s first stand-up comedy special Chris Tucker Live will premiere exclusively on Netflix on Friday, July 10. Tucker produces through his banner, Chris Tucker Entertainment with Phil Joanou set to direct.
Filmed at the Historic Fox Theatre in Tucker’s hometown of Atlanta, GA, the special will showcase Tucker’s comedic chops, including impersonations, as he shares his experiences from childhood to the big time.
“Chris Tucker is a true global movie star and a one-of-a-kind talent whose remarkable energy, delivery and original style make him one of the funniest comedians of our time,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer. “We cannot wait to share his distinct and hilarious voice with our members across the globe.”
Tucker is possibly best known for playing Detective James Carter in the Rush Hour films. He appeared on Russell Simmons’ HBO Def Comedy Jam in the 1990s and landed his first starring role in the 1995 film cult classic Friday opposite Ice Cube.
Chris Tucker Live joins Netflix’s other comedy stand-up specials including Aziz Ansari, Craig Ferguson, Nick Offerman, Chelse Peretti and Chelsea Handler among others.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has announced that comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory will be honored with the 2,542nd star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday, February 2, 2015.
The star in the category of Live Theatre/Performance will be dedicated at 1650 Vine Street near Hollywood & Vine.
“We are proud to honor Dick Gregory with a star on the Walk of Fame during Black History month. He has given so much to the world with his wisdom through his work in entertainment,” stated Leron Gubler, President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and emcee of the ceremonies.
The day after the ceremony the celebration will continue with the Dick Gregory & Friends All Star Tribute and Toast on Tuesday, February 3, at 8:00 p.m. at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, 1615 N. Vine Street in Hollywood.
Richard Claxton Gregory aka Dick Gregory is a comedian, civil rights activist, author, recording artist, actor, philosopher and anti-drug crusader. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Gregory, 82, began his career as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid-1950s. He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After being discharged in 1956, with a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago.
Gregory attributes the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner, who watched him perform at Herman Roberts Show Bar. Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club as a replacement for comedian Professor Irwin Corey.
By 1962, Gregory had become a nationally-known headline performer, selling out nightclubs, making numerous national television appearances, and recording popular comedy albums. Gregory, whose style was detached, ironic, and satirical, gained the attention of audiences with his political and controversial stand up acts. By being both outspoken and provocative, he became a household name and opened many doors for Black entertainers.
As GBN reported last month, Chris Rock’s new film Top Five sparked a bidding frenzy at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Paramount Pictures emerging as the winner for distribution rights to the tune of $12.5 million. Last week, the studio dropped the first trailer. Written, directed by, and starring Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind.
Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah also star.
The movie is set for a limited release on December 5, going wide a week later on December 12.
In 2005, Dave Chappelle was merely the hottest comedian in America. Then he left his job and became a far more singular cultural figure: A renegade to some, a lunatic to others, but most of all, an enigma. Now he is making a kind of comeback — Mr. Chappelle headlines the Oddball Comedy and CuriosityFestival, a new 15-city tour presented by the Funny or Die Web site that begins Friday in Austin, Tex. — and what makes it particularly exciting is how he’s using his hard-earned mystique to make more daring and personal art.
Mr. Chappelle didn’t just walk away from a $50 million contract and the acclaimed “Chappelle’s Show,” whose second season on Comedy Central stacks up well against the finest years of “SCTV,” “Saturday Night Live” and Monty Python. He did so dramatically, fleeing to Africa and explaining his exit in moral terms: “I want to make sure I’m dancing and not shuffling,” he told Time magazine. Since then, he has been a remote star in an era when comedians have never been more accessible.
Mr. Chappelle hasn’t done any interviews (aside from a radio appearance in 2011) or appeared on podcasts or talk shows. He doesn’t even have a Web site. He joined Twitter last year, then quit after 11 tweets. But Mr. Chappelle has tiptoed back into the public eye over the last year. While he has stayed away from movies and television, he still drops in pretty often on comedy clubs and occasionally theaters, usually in surprise appearances that generate more rumors of a comeback. Beyond the Oddball Festival, Chris Rock has said Mr. Chappelle may join him on his stand-up tour next year.