Voorhees learns about comedian Jimmie Walker’s career during a Black History Month Kickoff celebration
February 06, 2020
Voorhees College, in celebration of Black History Month, recently had a “Conversation with James ‘Jimmie’ Walker” conducted by Alex Brooks, a senior mass communications major, and Mr. Voorhees College 2019-2020.
Walker is an author, comedian, and actor who explained during the interview with Brooks how it was growing up in Bronx, N.Y. and eventually becoming a successful comedian. The conversation began discussing early beginnings of where he was born, his family, and growing up in New York.
Walker said he was born in Brooklyn but was technically raised in the Southside Bronx.
“During the 50’s and 60’s this area was one of the Top 5 ghettos in America. My neighborhood was all black, there may have been one white family on the block. We were all in the same social class and it was rough.”
Brooks transitioned into how Walker got his comedy start. He explained he began performing in local clubs doing stand-up.
“I started working with this group called The Last Poets. Poets, at first, was thinking writers but this group was different, they had a place called the East Wing next to the Apollo in Harlem. These guys were raw and spoke on some of the harsh realities of the Black race,” Walker said.
“I did a few jokes and I liked what was happening, so I worked with them for a while getting the opportunity to work with people like Richard Pryor and Stokely Carmichael.”
Walker then went on to discuss his time on the Jack Parr Show that led to his casting on “Good Times”
“Edmond and Curly was supposed to do a show on CBS, but they couldn’t make the warm ups. So the director and producer said ‘why don’t you get this guy Jimmie Walker to do it’,” Walker said.
“I was well received by the crowd and got some big laughs.” A casting director from Tandem Productions invited him to be casted on the show in Los Angeles. “Good Times” director Norman Lear came to see one of my sets and officially welcomed me to the show.”
Brooks asked Walker once he got on Good times how did the phrase “Dynomite” become so popular.
“At first, I tried out the phrase during one of the readings and creative director enjoyed it so much he included it three times a show. Norman; however, did not like the phrase and so eventually it was cut down to one time a show,” Walker said.
Brooks ended the interview with asking Walker to discuss his life after “Good Times”.
Walker said he continues to do stand up. “I do not consider myself an actor because I never auditioned or took acting lessons, so I am not an actor, I did comedy on the set. I know comedy and that is what I enjoy.”
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