Tim and Tom: An American Comedy In Black and WhiteFebruary 18, 2009
I have returned once again, far too long between posts. However, this time it’s not because I haven’t been reading. I relocated my biblio-groove about six weeks ago and have been reading at a fairly steady pace ever since. Now I have to catch up on the blog(ging)…
This is partly due to the annual Christmas flood of prime reading material, and partly due to the conspiracy of the fates in which my brain and my outer time clock fall into synch. There’s not telling how long this bit of temporal synchronicity will last, so to borrow yet another cliché, one must strike while the iron is hot.
The book I’m reviewing today was in fact a Christmas gift (from my wonderful sister) who managed to grab me something off of my Amazon wish list before I grabbed it myself (you usually have to move pretty quickly to pull that one off, but these days my spending has dwindled to almost nil).
I don’t remember exactly when I first heard that Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen had once been a comedy team, but I do recall that it came as something of a shock. I (like most everyone else my age) knew Reid as Venus Flytrap on the TV series ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’. I had no idea that he was anything more than an accomplished character actor.
Tom Dreesen was familiar to me from countless Tonight Show appearances, as well as the fact that he was Frank Sinatra’s regular opening act during the last part of the Chairman’s career.
Sometime toward the end of last year I happened upon Reid, who was appearing on DL Hughley’s show to promote this very book. I added it to my wishlist immediately, and because Santa Claus (and my sister) was watching, it dropped into my stocking shortly afterward.
‘Tim and Tom’ is a well written, and surprisingly bittersweet memoir of the comedy team of the same name. It describes the austere upbringings of both men, their meeting in the suburbs of Chicago, and their years of struggle as perhaps the only integrated comedy team in the country. While there are lots of familiar sounding anecdotes about showbiz struggles, they are all viewed through the lens of late 1960s race relations, and both men are painstakingly honest about their feelings about the partnership and each other.
I won’t be giving away any spoilers when I mention that ultimately they met only with limited success (as a pair).
It’s a great read as a unique story, but also for anyone interested in stand up comedy.
Next up – In Search of Captain Zero