The University of Chicago Press

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About the Authors

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 disc 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 programs. He served for fourteen years as Frank Sinatra's opening act.

Ron Rapoport has been a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a sports commentator for National Public Radio's Weekend Edition. His books include Betty Garrett and Other Songs: A Life on Stage and Screen and The Immortal Bobby: Bobby Jones and the Golden Age of Golf.

The Amazing True Story of the First Black and White Comedy Team in the History of Show Business. And the Last.

Tim and Tom is a great story, the best kind of story, well told, about two men struggling to prove themselves. David Letterman (read more, see Letterman appearance)
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,

Part showbiz survival 101, part civil rights testimony, the story of Tim and Tom is a moving chronicle of the courage, conviction and commitment it took to wade through floods of bigotry and bias with bell-bottoms. Tavis Smiley (read more, see Smiley appearance)
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.
A beautiful and beautifully told story of two men of character in a tough and unforgiving business who broke barriers with laughter. Scott Simon (hear interview)
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.


Now Available: Vintage Tim & Tom Comedy CDs

Classic Comedy of Tim and Tom
The Classic Comedy of Tim & Tom: The one and only Tim & Tom comedy album recorded live at Angelo's Soulful Southside Palace, Chicago, IL, 1973.

Breaking Face
Breaking Face: Tim Reid's solo comedy album recorded live at T.D. Hayes Comedy Club, San Diego, CA, 1976.

That White Boy's Crazy
That White Boy's Crazy: Tom Dreesen's solo comedy album recorded live before an all-black audience at Benji's Lounge, Harvey, IL, 1983.

© Copyright 2008 Tim Reid, Tom Dreesen, and Ron Rapoport. All rights reserved.