Dick Gregory is pretty much a legend in stand-up comedy and good luck finding his stand-up comedy CDs. The easiest to find and least expensive generally is Dick Gregory On originally released in 1969.

Having heard about but not having heard Gregory before I was quite curious to see what a Black activist comic sounded like. Dick Gregory On is a good place to start and though close to forty years old still funny and to the point.

Dick Gregory is best known for being an activist turned health farmer. Listening to his CD On you clearly hear the roots of some of Chris Rock’s or Dave Chapelle’s more edgy race comedy. I was kind of expecting an angry comic but Gregory is non-confrontational in attitude, letting his comedy carry his political weight.

Aside from a few references to Spiro Agnew, one of Nixon’s vice-presidents, there is little on this stand-up comedy CD that is really dated. Gregory opens with a bit on crime in Washington DC that is eerily still relevant. It is even sometimes scary to hear some of Dick Gregory’s Vietnam material and realize how it still applies to the Iraq situation.

The longest bit on ON is about his short stint in the army, who should be sent to Vietnam, space exploration to space exploration and the moon landing.

This and the next track, Martians, are rare instances of science-fiction comedy, its premise being Mars is inhabited not by little green men but big Black men. Political comedy and racial comedy in a very velvet glove.

The strangest moment on this stand-up comedy CD has to be President Gregory on Smoking, Rest Program: its premise is that as President Gregory would  go on TV to tell people smoking causes impotency: this is something we now know to be true.

Dick Gregory On includes the classic New Year’s Eve Bust where the comic sets up the cops against the FBI during a bust. He also uses the occasion to take a swipe at the agency, “I got so many bugs on my phone I use roach powder.” This stand-up comedy CD closes with a very funny bit about white Christians and another on Black bigots.

If you are a comedy fan Dick Gregory may be a comic you have heard about but not heard. His CD On has survived the years very nicely and is still on point.

Dick Gregory
Dick Gregory On:
Originally released 1969
Collectables 1997
51 minutes

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