About Dick Gregory
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Gregory began his career as a comedian while serving in the military in the mid 1950s. He served in the army for a year and a half at Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Lee in Virginia and Fort Smith in Arkansas. He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. After being discharged in 1956 he returned to the university but did not receive a degree. With a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago.
In 1958, Gregory opened a nightclub called the Apex Club in Illinois. The club failed, landing Gregory in financial hardship. In 1959, Gregory landed a job as master of ceremonies at the Roberts Show Club.
Gregory performed as a comedian in small, primarily black-patronized nightclubs while working for the United States Postal Service during the daytime. He was one of the first black comedians to gain widespread acclaim performing for white audiences. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Gregory describes the history of black comics as limited: "Blacks could sing and dance in the white night clubs but weren't allowed to stand flat-footed and talk to white folks, which is what a comic does."
Early in Dick Gregory's career, he was offered a gig on The Tonight Show Starring Jack Paar. Paar's show was known for helping propel entertainers to the next level of their careers. At the time, black comics did perform on the show but were never asked to stay after their performances to sit on the famous couch and talk with the host. Dick Gregory declined the invitation to perform on the show several times until finally Jack Paar called him to find out why he refused to perform on the show. Eventually, in order to have Gregory perform, the producers agreed to allow him to stay after his performance and talk with the host on air. This was a first in the show's history. Dick Gregory's interview on The Tonight Show spurred conversations across America. His interview provided an opportunity for viewers to see an African American in a positive and humane light.
Gregory is number 82 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of all time and has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Gregory is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
He was a former co-host with radio personality Cathy Hughes, and is still a frequent morning guest, on WOL 1450 AM talk radio's "The Power", the flagship station of Hughes' Radio One. He also appears regularly on the nationally syndicated Imus in the Morning program.
Gregory appears as "Mr. Sun" on the television show Wonder Showzen (the third episode, entitled "Ocean", aired in 2005). As Chauncey, a puppet character, imbibes a hallucinogenic substance, Mr. Sun warns, "Don't get hooked on imagination, Chauncey. It can lead to terrible, horrible things." Gregory also provides guest commentary on the Wonder Showzen Season One DVD. Large segments of his commentary were intentionally bleeped out, including the names of several dairy companies, as he made potentially slanderous remarks concerning ill effects that the consumption of cow milk has on human beings.
Gregory attended and spoke at the funeral of James Brown on December 30, 2006, in Augusta, Georgia.
Gregory is an occasional guest on the Mark Thompson's "Make It Plain" Sirius Channel 146 Radio Show from 3pm to 6pm PST.
Gregory appeared on The Alex Jones Show on September 14, 2010, March 19, 2012, and April 1, 2014.
Gregory gave the keynote Address for Black History Month at Bryn Mawr College on February 28, 2013. His take-away message to the students was to never accept injustice.
In 2013, Dick Gregory continues to be a ringing voice of the black power movement. Recently, he was featured in a Fantagraphics book by Pat Thomas entitled Listen, Whitey: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965–1975, which uses the political recordings of the Civil Rights era to highlight sociopolitical meanings throughout the movement. Comedian Dick Gregory is known for comedic performances that not only made people laugh, but mocked the establishment. According to Thomas, Dick Gregory’s monologues reflect a time when entertainment needed to be political to be relevant, which is why he included his standup in the collection. Dick Gregory is featured along with the likes of Huey Newton, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes and Bill Cosby.