Jimmie Walker began his career in stand-up comedy more than 40 years ago. His first gigs were in front of the infamously judgmental audiences at Harlem's Apollo Theater and as the official comedian of the Black Panthers for about two years. This gave him a thick skin and a quick, aware wit from the beginning -- a necessity allowing him the rare longevity to call stand-up his main career to this day.
It's also kept him from losing his mind over the fact that, to most people who are aware of American pop culture, he'll always be the kid from the TV show Good Times who says, "Dy-no-mite!" Walker, who appears four nights starting Thursday at Tommy T's Showroom, played J.J. Evans for five years in the 1970s, but the show, in perpetual syndication, has raised a few generations.
It has also trapped Walker's popular image at an awkward man-child phase, an actor in his late 20s and early 30s playing a much younger person. Now in his 60s, he is finished regurgitating his happy-go-lucky catchphrase on stage in favor of skewering the U.S. economy, our nation's criminal justice system, and people whose actions make them ideal candidates for public shredding.
Jimmie Walker appears April 19-22 at Tommy T's Showroom, 1000 Van Ness (at O'Farrell), S.F. Admission is $15-$30.