AMERICAN MASTERS DIGITAL ARCHIVE - Dick Gregory and the Chicago Playboy Club

The late Dick Gregory recalls when he was booked at the Chicago Playboy Club – the first time a black comedian was booked for a white nightclub. Warning: strong language.

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Hugh Hefner had the most prestigious club in the world because of his book when I worked there it wasn't but one Playboy Club in the whole world but people came in from all over the world because it was a status symbol to have a key to the Playboy Club is like having a Mercedes now and people came in from all over I mean they've become a to attraction for Chicago and so when I get called down there to say $50 for that one night so I'm thinking if I was working seven nights we had no idea I would be running I think I didn't know it was that much money in the world $50 a night times seven so I go down there and I'm not thinking of anything I didn't know at the time that a Negro is not permitted to work a white nightclub that's in all of America and I remember not knowing that I used to practice what do you do when some white person yells something negative out or embarrass you and so I used to practice with my wife but it didn't work because she's too nice and kind and then one day I did something and she said something to me and I heard that tone of it that's the tone I want that's the tone and then one night I don't know how I've got this little job in this little hick town this little Mishawaka Indiana so is that just you aren't saleable so I'm a mission walking down this little honky-tonk cabin and somebody said get that nigger off the stage now quickly I knew I have a fine mind I had to be validated by white folks and I say that at a time when most black folks did these are your customers the same people that go to the Chez Paree into the big show in Vegas this is they Vegas this is all they know they go there for their birthday they go there when a friends coming to town and so these white folks there are your clients you make your money on them you ain't making a nickel only because you paying me and whatever I drink do not judge me so what happens and I figured this out for what happens is you who bring me in somebody and calls me a nigger and the rest of your customers get upset or maybe even start a fight then that was really saying you was better off not bringing me in because I'm not gonna be addicted so I was ready for and everybody just froze I said it why book called me called me arranges hearts called me trigger and after they laughing that's it come on y'all be crazy you know he called me a nigger but my contract says whenever I hear the word nigga in here I got to get $50 every time I hear so with y'all just stand up say nigga nigga nigga Minnie Minnie Minnie I'm out of it there's no way you can feel sorry for me or embarrassed and laughs so now I got him back I'm off being on the guy walk I'm saying thank you Jesus Christ I want to hit him myself and then the guy walks I'm saying sorry hmm sorry that's almost paid you man I've been trying to figure out how to get to this so now I'm back at Hef one night I had no money and I don't know that white folk don't pay you that night you know you should pay to your agent so I didn't even have car fare back so I get on the bus and I get off at the wrong stop and so blizzard and I look at my watch and it's quarter to eight and I meant to be at his place at 7:30 but because of the blizzard everything and my suit in my little bag over law and my shoes and I'm running and I'm asking everybody do you know what to play ball club in and so you go down in there and about eight blocks away in the blizzard I see this huge signs is playboy I'm praying thank God and I'm running and I'm slipping and I'm slide and I run up on stage the first time I didn't get to put my outfit on and I saw I talking and hid so I had the same way that people were from Alabama that's been 20 years down there one day and he just go crazy you can just hear the laughter giggling when you can go past laughing get the giggling bad that's when you cook it I was cooking so good a night I wish I could like they're listening to me and you could just feel it and they was yelling i'm from sanh soul Mississippi I'm pumped on so and so I can all I was in Mississippi and I sit in a restaurant for five days only to find out they didn't have nothing on the menu I liked then another guy yell offices for ya Ellison hook lucky Mississippi said I was there alone walk into the restaurant and white great you see here can I help you I look at my cell like a whole fried chicken and in this hidden she left these three boys walk in Ku Klux Klan and they went on it's probably Klansmen in the oyster I said nigga she brought the chicken admit it are you doing this restless come in need well whatever you do to that chicken we're gonna do to you so in fact it was a whole chicken so I said I just wanted it kissed this button say line up and they just went off to the hook and a 12 o'clock up still won states midnight and at 12:15 you have in the Camry they woke him up and about 1:30 I walked off everybody the lights came on you thought Jesus had came down kiss Christmas they loved it they just you know I was honest I wasn't disrespectful I wouldn't mean I want better and from that Hefner brought me back for two weeks I was the first time in the history had a Negro comedian had been booked in a white night you