Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White

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Press: University Of Chicago Press (September 15, 2008)
Publication Date:2008-9
Author Name:Reid, Tim/ Dreesen, Tom/ Rapoport, Ron


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.


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Comment List (Total:13)

  •     I found this book written well with a very interesting view of two men pursuing their dream together and apart.
  •     GREAT
  •     The best comedy autobiography I have ever read. Fresh, insightful and powerful!
  •     Tim & Tom were about in the right place at the right time with their ethnic comedy. Had a few more things clicked for them, I'm sure they could have been the Martin & Lewis of the 1970's. Individually, they have done well, but again talented guys who should be better known than they are today. A pleasurable read.
  •     Loved this book -- very gueniune, real stories from the lives of two very inspirational men. Well written and entertaining.
  •     This was a remarkable story about two very successful and interesting people who have led a life few of us could ever imagine.
  •     I was lucky enough to interview Tim and Tom on my [...] podcast for this incredible read. Truly an impressive story in so many ways, poverty to success, the many many sides of...
  •     I lived in Harvey, Ill and was in high school there from1968-1972. Those were as Dressed alluded to,racially charged times. Tim and Tom came to TTHS and did a show for the entire student body. Their messages were well receivedI went to high school in Harvey from 1968-1972 and Tom Dreesens description of the times was spot on,as was his description of the city and the characters found there. It was a pleasure to finally read his story and success. I only saw him and Tim in person once, and that was at our alma mater, Thornton Township High School, when they did their act for the student body. The book was a real pleasure to read. Factual, funny and entertaining from cover to cover.
  •     Not just a great read - and it is a GREAT read - it's a revelation.' I've been a fan of Dreesen and Reid forever but it never occurred to me to wonder about the dues they paid,...
  •     I was very impressed with all Tim and Tom went through and am more motivated now to pursue my goals, Alex B
  •     Only in America can the themes of 'rags to riches,' black-and-white race relations, and stand-up comedy interweave successfully into a true story. Never has that story been told more successfully told than in Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White. It's a roller coaster ride of hilarity to heartbreak to humility--truly a must read.
  •     Tim & Tom, An American Comedy in Black & White, Tim Reid [1944- ] & Tom Dreesen [1939- ], with Ron Rapoport; The University of Chicago Press (2008 hardcover)The story moves.Ron Rapoport, a superb organizer of details, is an excellent writer (when I get done with this, I'm ordering his biography of the actress-singer Betty Garrett)."Tim & Tom" is abrupt, almost shocking evidence that a university press can publish readable, well-crafted & superior books.And when I made it to page 55, I put it down & in the ensuing weeks found it impossible to resume reading the story.These are lives that at one time were mythologized as noble & the actual truth, quite frankly, is revolting. However, the book deserves the highest possible rating: For the above reasons & because authors should never be penalized for being candid.Returned on the To Read shelf. One never knows when one will change one's mind, which in this instance very well might happen.
  •     This is a terrific tale of how two men formed a comedy team, did well, but had to break up due to career pressures and personalchanges. I loved every page, and both men have had great careers in the entertainment world. Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen are well respected and accomplished comics. If you love a great show biz story, read this. Well worth your time!

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