A fast, funny and informative stand-up routine/memoir from one of the major comic stars of the 1970s.
Walker—who made his name as J.J. Evans on the sitcom Good Times—recounts his life in the ghetto, on TV and on the road. He gives a good inside look at the TV show, where he was cast as the teenage J.J., surprising producers and angering the cast by becoming the breakout star. At the peak of his fame, he would also play a supporting role in the careers of both David Letterman and Jay Leno, two of the many struggling unknown comics who wrote jokes for him. He also had a front-row seat to the decades-long friendship-turned-bitter rivalry that would lead to the late-show wars of the early 1990s; long after the dust has settled, he remains strongly Team Letterman, holding Leno in contempt. As for the rest of the competition, he admired Richard Pryor, had limited patience for Andy Kaufman and thinks Cosby is king. (He also admits he isn’t always the best judge, having once advised Steve Martin to find another career.) Walker also acknowledges certain limits that come with his choice of career: “The problem is that white comics don't have to be white, but black comics have to be black.” Other limits are self-imposed; although uninhibited in his lifestyle, this self-proclaimed “Johnny Mathis of Black Comedians” has long adhered to his friend David Brenner’s advice that you can’t be successful if you can’t work clean. He is similarly conservative in his politics. Walker, once the comic relief for Black Panther rallies, takes a little too much delight in being a “black sheep among black people.”
Rants aside, a unique perspective on the perils of modern comedy from a survivor with a long memory.