Tim & Tom (Hardcover)

An American Comedy in Black and White

By Tim Reid

University of Chicago Press, 9780226709000, 254pp.

Publication Date: September 15, 2008



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.

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 "Frank s Place." Tom Dreesen is a stand-up comedian who has appeared scores of times on "The Tonight Show, Late Show with David Letterman," and other television shows. He toured the nation as Frank Sinatra s opening act for fourteen years. Ron Rapoport has been a sports columnist for the "Chicago Sun-Times" and the "Los Angeles" "Daily News "and a sports commentator for National Public Radio s "Weekend Edition. "He has written a biography of Bobby Jones and, with Betty Garrett, her autobiography."""