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Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and Whiteby Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen and Ron Rapoport
Synopses & Reviews
As the heady promise of the 1960s sagged under the weight of widespread violence, rioting, and racial unrest, two young men — one black and one white — took to stages across the nation to help Americans confront their racial divide: by laughing at it.
Tim and Tom tells the story of that pioneering duo, the first interracial comedy team in the history of show business — and the last. Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen polished their act in the nightclubs of Chicago, then took it on the road, not only in the North, but in the still-simmering South as well, developing routines that even today remain surprisingly frank — and remarkably funny — about race. Most nights, the shock of seeing an integrated comedy team quickly dissipated in uproarious laughter, but on some occasions the audience's confusion and discomfort led to racist heckling, threats, and even violence. Though Tim and Tom perpetually seemed on the verge of making it big throughout their five years together, they grudgingly came to realize that they were ahead of their time: America was not yet ready to laugh at its own failed promise.
Eventually, the grind of the road took its toll, as bitter arguments led to an acrimonious breakup. But the underlying bond of friendship Reid and Dreesen had forged with each groundbreaking joke has endured for decades, while their solo careers delivered the success that had eluded them as a team. By turns revealing, shocking, and riotously funny, Tim and Tom unearths a largely forgotten chapter in the history of comedy.
"Tim and Tom is a great story, the best kind of story, well told, about two men struggling to prove themselves. This entertaining book offers many meaningful lessons and vivid reflections." David Letterman
"A heartfelt memoir and a nice capsule history of growing up different, fighting the odds, and becoming successful on one's own terms...recommended." Library Journal
"Part showbiz survival 101, part civil rights testimony, the story of Tim and Tom is a moving chronicle of the courage, conviction and commitment it took to wade through floods of bigotry and bias with bell-bottoms. Although racism is no laughing matter, Tim and Tom proved that a little humanity and humor can go a long way to reminding us that people are more alike than we are different." Tavis Smiley
As the heady promise of the 1960s sagged under the weight of widespread violence, rioting, and racial unrest, two young men — one black and one white — took to stages across the nation to help Americans confront their racial divide: by laughing at it. This work tells the story of that pioneering duo.
About the Author
Tim Reid is an actor, producer, and director who has created and starred in many movies and television shows, including WKRP In Cincinnati, in which he played the overnight disk jockey Venus Flytrap, and the acclaimed Frank's Place.
Tom Dreesen is a stand-up comedian who has appeared scores of times on The Tonight Show, The Late Show, and Late Night with David Letterman, and other television programs. He served for fourteen years as Frank Sinatra's opening act.
Ron Rapoport has been a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a sports commentator for National Public Radio's Weekend Edition. His books include Betty Garnett and Other Songs: A Life on Stage and Screen and The Immortal Bobby: Bobby Jones and the Golden Age of Golf.
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