Dick Gregory, stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and social justice activist, just left us.
Back in the 60s, before he played the character Grady on Sanford and Son, Gregory primarily did stand-up. He was part of a wave of iconoclastic African-American comedians who swept into the limelight–among them Flip Wilson, Godfrey Cambridge, Richard Pryor–somewhere in the space between Redd Foxx (crude, crass, brash and definitely dirty) and Bill Cosby (leaning towards cozy and ultimately way too clean). Gutsy and witty and politically incorrect before it became politically correct to be politcally incorrect, Gregory enjoyed the distinction of being both controversial and a hot property. He played Playboy Clubs and got his name on FBI watch lists. And even Carlin stole from him.
There is an empty space in the world of laughter and enlightenment on Earth now. But there’s one helluva ticket at the Pearly Gates Laughter Lounge–I like to imagine. With Pryor and Carlin and Robin Williams headlining, and Groucho as the MC.
Gregory will be missed, and remembered.