Acclaimed civil and human rights activist, satirical humorist and legendary stand-up comedian Dick Gregory will be performing at Black Spectrum Theatre in Queens on Saturday, Nov. 20. His show is called “Where Do We Go From Here?”
Dick Gregory is not only one of the greatest stand-up comics of all time who has influenced and served as a role model for many comedians who followed, but he is also: a recording artist with seven records, a television and film personality, a humanitarian, a leading nutritionist and author of 15 books.
Gregory was the first African American comedian to break the color barrier and appear in mainstream white clubs and on TV. He began his professional career in 1958 as a master of ceremonies at several Chicago nightclubs. In 1961, Hugh Hefner saw him perform at the Roberts Show Bar in Chicago and hired him to replace white comedian Professor Irwin Corey.
This was his big break. Until then, he had mostly worked in small clubs with predominately black audiences while working for the United States Postal Service during the day.
In his routines, he would target poverty, segregation and racial discrimination. He was part of a new generation of black comedians, which included Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby and Godfrey Cambridge, which broke with the old minstrel tradition of presenting stereotypical black characters . He first appeared on national television on the late night Jack Parr Show.
In 1964, his first book “autobiography, nigger” sold 10 million copies. He marched with Martin Luther King throughout the south for civil rights. In 1963, he was jailed and beaten by Birmingham police for parading without a permit. In 1965, he was shot in the knee while trying to calm a crowd during the Watts riots. In 1967, he ran against corrupt Mayor Richard Daley for mayor of Chicago and lost. In 1968, he ran for president of the United States against Richard Nixon as a write-in candidate and received 1.5 million votes.
Dick Gregory is also infamous for his food fasts. In 1960, he became a vegetarian. In 1968, he weighed 288 pounds because though he didn’t eat meat, he ate everything else. He started a 40-day fast to protest the war raging in Vietnam. He drank only distilled water for 40 days while he continued to travel and lecture around the country. When he ended his fast, he weighed 97 pounds.
In the ‘80s, he developed his Bahamian Diet Nutritional Drink Mix. For the past 30 years, Dick Gregory has been a fruitarian and rawfoodist. He only eats fresh fruits and vegetables and their juices. He won’t eat anything that has been cooked, not even steamed vegetables. Gregory and his wife Lillian have raised their 10 children on the same raw food diet. Don’t be surprised if at the end of his performance, he hands you a raw fruit.
Dick Gregory’s “Where Do We Go From Here” starts at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $25. Group discounts for over 15 tickets are available. Black Spectrum Theatre is located in Roy Wilkins Park. Use the entrance on Baisley Blvd. and 177th Street. Free parking is available. Call (718) 723-1800 for additional information or to buy tickets.