Jimmie "J.J." Walker has written a book about his life and career
He is best known as the star of the 1970s sitcom "Good Times"
Walker says he is against same-sex marriage
Jimmie “J.J.” Walker is probably best known as the the rubber-faced comedian who made famous the catchphrase “dyn-o-mite!” on the popular 1970s sitcom “Good Times.”
He has penned a memoir titled, you guessed it, “Dyn-o-mite.” It is the story of Walker’s rise from poverty in the South Bronx to becoming a comedian for the Black Panthers and then finding huge success as J.J. Evans on “Good Times.”
Walker is not afraid to speak his mind, whether it be discussing the controversy surrounding the sitcom, his feelings about fellow comedians and his unorthodox political views.
CNN: When you started out, your act was considered “too black.”
Jimmie Walker: I was coming from the Black Panthers, and of course they were dealing with the black plight. Too preachy, I think it was more like ‘don’t lay that plight thing on us.’
CNN: Tell me about [the catchphrase] “dyn-o-mite!”
Walker: That thing was a John Rich deal. He was an illustrious and wonderful director/producer. John was a veteran of many things, ‘The Honeymooners,’ ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’
I did it one day in rehearsal and he said, ‘That’s it! We’ve got it now,’ and I said,’ What have we got?’ And he said, ‘I want you to do that dyn-o-mite thing.’ I said, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Yeah we’re going to do that every show.’ I said, ‘Come on man, people are not stupid enough to buy into a guy just standing there saying dyn-o-mite.’ He said, ‘Yes they are.’ Even though Norman Lear (creator) didn’t like it, John Rich proved to be a prophet.
CNN: Were you hurt by John Amos’ or Esther Rolle’s (negative) comments? (The pair were quoted as complaining about the direction of the show in making Walker’s character the lead and what they viewed as the series’ negative imagery.)
Walker: No not at all. The reality is I never spoke to them. I’ve been on the phone with you for three minutes. That’s more time than I ever spoke to them. Being a stand-up, I was mainly in the clubs. My time on the show was actually very relaxing because it got me away from my writers. I didn’t have to listen to the moans and groans of my writers. I had 31 writers. Everyone had a complaint about something.
CNN: You say that you’re a black sheep in the black community.
Walker: Some of the stuff that happened on our show, it made it look like we were, as they say, ‘not black enough.’ The black community kind of turned a little on us. It was kind of like Tiger Woods where they don’t embrace him because he plays golf ,and it’s not a black sport.
CNN: So does it bother you not being accepted?
Walker: No, because as you move on and do other things, you stop working in front of black crowds anyway. Bill Cosby doesn’t really have a black following. I call myself the Johnny Mathis of comedy because I don’t do the black thing.
CNN: How do you describe yourself politically?
Walker: I’m a realist independent. I’m against affirmative action because we’re at a point now where some things outlive their usefulness.
CNN: You’re also against gay marriage.
Walker: Yeah I am. There’s just certain traditions that need to be upheld. I’ll give you the other side of it, no it doesn’t affect me, no it doesn’t change my life. There’s just traditions that need to be dealt with. I’m a believer that gay marriage should be passed because the battle is not worth the war. The gay lobby is very loud. I’m totally against it.
In 100 years from now, people are going to go, ‘Who was against gay marriage?’ And I’ll be one of those idiots and say, ‘That’s me.’ I’m just against it on moral grounds, that’s it. I’m as much a heathen as anybody. I just don’t believe on moral grounds it should be done. I don’t like it, I don’t accept it.
CNN: You were good friends with Jay Leno, but are no longer.
Walker: I’m a fan of Jay Leno. I have nothing against him. I think he’s still today one of the Top 10 comics in the country. What he has done is let us down as a comedy community by not bringing on any new acts. He’s been on 30 years and hasn’t broken one act. Come on! For Jay Leno not to do that, it’s embarrassing, all I want for Jay Leno to do is do what was done for him, that’s all. I don’t hate Jay Leno, I think what he’s done is bad.
CNN: You have very nice things to say about David Letterman.
Walker: Dave may not be a people person, but if you’re his friend, you’re his friend. The whole intern thing … I said this to people, ‘If you had said to me two years ago, Dave is sleeping with his intern and cheating on Regina,’ I would have said, ‘You gotta kill me because that ain’t happening,’ and I would have been dead. I never would have believed that because Dave is a very shy guy. He’s never really hit on chicks. He doesn’t go out with attractive women, he doesn’t try to do that. If I’m David Letterman, I got me a Vogue magazine and I’m going, ‘Bring this girl to me now!’
CNN: You seem to be quite the ladies man.
Walker: No, I’m not. You have to go through a lot to get women because they’re so upset about everything, but if you get a nice woman, that is a great feeling. When you get older and the women are in their 40s and 50s they’re all divorced, they’ve all got kids, they all hate men, so you have to listen and let them vent. You hope they have girlfriends so they can vent to their girlfriends.