Richard "Dick" Claxton Gregory, (born October 12, 1932) is an American comedian, social activist, writer and entrepreneur.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, Dick Gregory is an influential African American comic who has used his performance skills to convey to both white and black audiences his political message on civil rights. Influenced to stand up for civil rights by his early surroundings of poverty and violence, Gregory became the first comedian to successfully perform for both black and white audiences.
As a poor student who excelled at running, Gregory was aided by teachers at Sumner High School such as Warren St. James and earned a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. There he set records as a half-miler and miler. His college career was interrupted by two years in the U.S. Army where he got his start in comedy, entering and winning several Army talent shows at the urging of his commanding officer, who had taken notice of his penchant for joking. After completing military service, he performed as a comedian in small, primarily black nightclubs while working for the United States Postal Service during the daytime. In 1961, while working at the Black-owned Roberts Show Bar in Chicago, he was hired by Hugh Hefner to work at the Chicago Playboy Club after Hefner heard him wow a largely-white audience with the following routine: