5:00am PT by Chris Gardner
'Good Times' Star Jimmie Walker Defends Louis C.K.: "It's Totally Unfair"
Jimmie "J.J." Walker, the onetime Good Times star, says he's writing a book about comedy's great generational and racial divide — and judging from his red carpet remarks to Rambling Reporter at the Nov. 22 Paley Honors in Beverly Hills, it sounds like it's going to be a doozy of a read.
Walker, 72, launched into an impassioned attack on the #MeToo movement and PC culture while defending comic (and alleged sexual predator) Louis C.K. "We've gone too far with PC culture," Walker said. "It's way out of line. It's really hurting comedy and hurting a lot of artists. It's totally unfair. If you look at his act, Louis C.K. talks about masturbation all the time. So, when you go see Louis C.K., [you] should expect to see some masturbation jokes. If you [are] around him, I would expect to see that. I don't think that people like that should be indicted and have stuff taken away from them."
Louis C.K. is currently in the midst of a comeback tour, which got off to controversial start when he made a Holocaust joke — “I’d rather be in Auschwitz than New York City,” he told an Israeli audience in Tel Aviv on Nov. 28 — during a set that also included a reference to past sexual misconduct. “If they say ‘yes,’ then still don’t do it because it’s not popular,” he reportedly said, a nod to the 2017 scandal where the comedian was accused by multiple women of masturbating in front of them without their consent — behavior he later confirmed.
As for Walker, he was walking the red carpet to show support for the night's honorees, a starry roster of comedy legends including Bob Newhart, Carol Burnett, Norman Lear, Lily Tomlin and Carl Reiner. Particularly, he wanted to single out Lear even though the two have a unique relationship. "They’re doing a reboot of our show [Good Times] and I’m not going to be on it because Norman never really appreciated my kind of comedy on his show, but I appreciate Norman," Walker said of the ABC special Live in Front of a Studio Audience that will re-create episodes of Good Times and All in the Family. "He is just the best. He loves me personally and I love him more."
Walker, who has been in the comedy business for 50 years, says he's noticed that audiences have separated in recent years, which prompted him to write his as-yet-unpublished book The Great American Divide. "A lot of it has to do with our cable situation," he explains. "When I started on [Johnny] Carson and Ed Sullivan, every comic was on it. Black, white, Asian, gay, this, that, that, that, this. Jay Leno took over and there was no comedy. Nobody. Minority comics developed their own thing — like Def Jam, that was for black people. If you watch cable now, you will see the divide. There will be black night — 'Hey, it’s black night, get down baby!' Then gay night — 'Hey bitches, it’s time for us!' Then you’ll have, 'Loco baby, it’s time for the Hispanics, baby! Coming at you!' People do not play across the board anymore. Everybody has their crowd and their people."
A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.