Arts & Culture Blog
Jimmie "J.J." Walker Brings "Dy-no-mite!" to Planet Gemini This Weekend
August 2, 2012
If you say the phrase "Dy-no-mite!" to a crowd of mixed age people, the ones who remember the 1970s will smile. That's because that catch-phrase comes from the endearing and goofy comic character J.J., aka Jimmie Walker, from Norman Lear's hit TV show Good Times, which along with The Jefferson's was one of the first sitcoms to star a black family. Walker remembers those eventful days fondly, especially in the wake of the passing of The Jefferson's star Sherman Hemsley.
"Sherman created one of the great sitcom characters of all times," Walker says. "He will be missed."
But he was pragmatic about that time in comedy history and the place of a show like Good Times in black culture.
"My main focus [in the '70s] was to do the Johnny Carson show. I spent most of my waking hours trying to get better as a comic, trying to get on the Carson show. I was hoping [that] being on the West Coast and trying to do my comedy at the Comedy Store was a means to [that] end."
His '70s career included highlights like being named "Comedian of the Decade" by Time magazine and winning the first NAACP Image Award. And considering the supernova careers (and free-for-all gritty language) of '70s comics like Richard Pryor and George Carlin, that's probably a testament to his clean and inclusive brand of comedy.
"Langauge is a major problem [with black comedy today]," he says. "It's the Richard Pryor Syndrome. Probably 90 percent of the minority comics want to be Richard...so they think being dirty is the thang. I believe Sinbad, Cosby, George Wallace and myself, maybe five more comics, are the only clean comic minorities around. My show is totally clean. I've put my 'agent' in charge of making sure my openers are totally clean."
He won't even crack jokes on Monterey, as many comics do: "I'm a big fan of Clint Eastwood and have much respect for him," Walker explains.
He's appeared in plenty TV shows and movies since Good Times and Carson and The Jack Paar Show (which Bette Midler and David Brenner helped him get on), but his abiding place in the world of comedy is on a stage, holding a mic, making people laugh. He'll do just that for two nights at Planet Gemini this weekend (Friday and Saturday, 8pm doors, 9:30pm show, $15/general admission, $20/reserved table).
For a chance to win a pair of tickets to one of the weekend night's shows, go to the Weekly's Facebook page and post your own "Dy-no-mite!" catchphrase that sums up your feeling about life right now. Something like "OhMyGod!" or "Underwhelming!" or "Shipoopi!"—oops, that last one's taken, but you know what we mean.