Houston Style Goes One-on-One with Comedic Legend Dick Gregory

Destany Rainey | 3/3/2017, 11:56 a.m.
As part of his national tour, comedic legend and civil rights activist Dick Gregory visited Houston last week to entertain ...
Dick Gregory

As part of his national tour, comedic legend and civil rights activist Dick Gregory visited Houston last week to entertain guests at the city’s Dolce Ultra Lounge and Bistro with his age-old comedy, and also to share some of his viewpoints on current events at the Shrine of the Black Madonna. During his visit, Gregory spoke with Houston Style Magazine about his career, and shed some light on today’s black community.

Gregory’s national comedy career dates back to 1961 when he replaced white comedian “Professor” Irwin Corey as a regular at the Playboy Club in Chicago, as a direct request from Hugh Hefner. From there, Gregory went on to become a household name, with several television appearances and headlining sold out comedy shows.

Comedy Central ranks Dick Gregory as number 82 in the nation’s 100 greatest stand-ups of all time, but Gregory feels he actually is in the top 10. “There weren’t any black comedians out when I started doing comedy,” he said. “I trained Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.”

Gregory says he enjoys comedy, but he is not a comedian 24/7.

“That’s what the stage is for. When I’m on the stage, I’m there to make people laugh.”

Gregory’s celebrity status helped his with participation in the Civil Rights Movement, as he was a part of numerous sit-ins and marches protesting segregation alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As a teen, Gregory led a march protesting segregated schools while attending Sumner High School in St. Louis.

The 87-year old comedian hasn’t missed a beat over the years, having just as much passion and insight on today’s events as he did during the Civil Rights Movement.

Gregory says the black community is still under major construction, given that it is just out of slavery.

“We haven’t been out of slavery 400 years,” Gregory said. “The Jews were freed from Egypt 9,000 years ago. If you compare the black community to the Jews when they were 400 years out of slavery, they acted just like we are acting now.”

Gregory stressed that it takes a long time for a community of people to transition out of slavery, and as a result, the teachings of Malcom X and Martin Luther King may not have a direct impact on the community until about 1,000 years from today.

Gregory says black Millennials and Generation Z are products of the institution of America because the country does not own up to the predominant issues that exist, such as racism, sexism, and class divide. Gregory used Nick Cannon’s departure from America’s Got Talent to exemplify the younger generation’s way of dealing with social issues in America.

“There is a new mind coming through now, it’s not going to change. You’re not going to teach young folk what to do, they know what to do,” he said.

Gregory has written numerous books that highlight the comedian’s growth throughout his life. His 1964 best-selling autobiography “Nigger” received backlash because of its title, but Gregory says the title is a reflection of what he was called back then.

Houston Style asked Gregory if he had one wish that he knew would be granted, what would it be? His response was, “There is nothing out there that I would want for, that I can’t get. I don’t wish for anything. What you proclaim, you get.”