Jimmie “Dyn-o-mite!” Walker is willing to do just about anything to get back on television.
One of the biggest sitcom stars of the 1970’s, he hasn’t had a decent work offer in more than a decade and continues to perform in small comedy clubs just to make ends meet.
“Sometimes your time is up,” he tells me. “It shouldn’t be, but it is.”
Jimmie, a product of the South Bronx, appeared for six seasons on the groundbreaking Norman Lear comedy GOOD TIMES. He was then cast in two two high profile series — B.A.D. CATS and AT EASE — from super-producer Aaron Spelling.
“He has had like 20 shows and only three failures,” Jimmie laughs. “I was on two of them!
Now 66, the comic who once employed both David Letterman and Jay Leno as writers, says he still dreams of returning to primetime.
“I would love to be on a show,” he admits. “I have no problem with saying that. I think I am very funny. I think I would be fantastic on a show as just a minor player. Everything I have ever done, I have always surfaced from it. If somebody was smart enough to say, “Let’s bring this guy on as the uncle or the store owner…”
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“I think I could be on any sitcom out there today: TWO AND A HALF MEN, MIKE & MOLLY… As a punchline guy… I would be great. It is just a matter of someone believing in me.”
Here’s more of what Jimmie shared when we caught up yesterday in Pasadena, Calif.:
Why don’t you see yourself as being the ‘star’ of a show?
Because I am not a star guy. You know? You have got those guys who help you out — like a utility guy. I am that guy. I can bring that spark. I can help you. But the networks don’t see it that way.
Have they approached you for LAST COMIC STANDING?
No. And I would never want to be a judge on that show. I never judge anybody’s comedy because there are a lot of people who think that I suck. So I don’t attack anybody else’s comedy.
You recently published an a memoir called DYNOMITE!: GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES, OUR TIMES. How did that do for you?
The book did okay. It didn’t do as well as I would have liked it to do. I don’t know why. The bottom line is it kind of shocked me because the PR was really good. They did a great job of getting me out there. I think the book — even if you don’t like Jimmie Walker — if you read the book, there is a lot of good stuff just about the scene of comedy at that time.
You had some harsh words for Jay Leno in that book. Did he ever respond?
No. And Leno is not going to do that. Leno has already got it made. He has probably got a billion dollars in the bank. He is going off in two weeks and next year at this time he will have another show. Leno is beyond us. He doesn’t care about us. I kind of feel with Leno like an older brother who says “I didn’t raise you like this.” He has really, really been very not good. And it has nothing to do with his talent. He has just been really negative about comics. Not only me, but new guys. And that is where he came from.
How do you think Jimmy Fallon will do at 11:30?
I think he is going to do great. Fallon is coming in with a new thing. This is not the old sitcom couch guy. This is a guy who can do impressions. He interacts with the guests. The guests have to participate. Even though it is Steve Allen-ish, people haven’t seen Steve Allen in 60 years. So this is going to feel like something totally new. I think the young people are going to say “We like this!”
Jimmie Walker appears in the fourth season of PIONEERS OF TELEVISION, premiering April 15 on PBS.