Turn Me Loose: Joe Morton as Dick Gregory review, pics

“Don’t get me wrong, I do care about this country,” Joe Morton as comedian Dick Gregory says in Turn Me Loose. “Where else but in America can a poor black boy like Michael Jackson grow up to be a rich, white man?”

Gregory was himself a poor black boy, with “a fast mouth and fast feet.” The fast feet got him a track scholarship to college; the fast mouth turned him into a wildly successful stand-up comic…

One leaves this 90-minute play by Gretchen Law thinking of it as a stand-up comedy routine more than a biographical drama. This is in part because the play doesn’t emphasize the biography, going into few details, especially in the past half century of Gregory’s life. But it’s mostly because of Joe Morton, an accomplished stage and film actor best known now as Olivia Pope’s father in the TV series Scandal, who turns out to have terrific comic delivery.

Full review at DC Theatre Scene





Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

7 thoughts on “Turn Me Loose: Joe Morton as Dick Gregory review, pics

  1. “Where else but in America can a poor black boy like Michael Jackson grow up to be a rich, white man?” (Did Dick Gregory ever say this?) It is outrageous that a Skin Disease Vitiligo can be used to make fun at, and its again outrageous that the victim in this so called “Joke” is once again Michael Jackson. But hey its Michael lets all have a good laugh about him we did it for decades while he was alive, lets continue with it while he is dead. I detest this. And I am sure that all BLACK Vitiligo sufferers will too. There is a line which people shouldn’t cross at any one time, that line is making jokes on somebodies disabilities or conditions. Shameful

  2. Did Gregory actually make this ugly joke about Michael Jackson? If so, it must have been during his young, ignorant, shallow period. Even so, it’s not funny now.

    1. Yes, Dick Gregory made this joke. And no, he wasn’t young when he made it. Gregory was born in 1932, and become popular as a stand-up in the early 1960’s.. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that Michael Jackson’s skin tone markedly changed, well past Gregory’s time as a nightclub comic.

      1. I’m sorry to hear that. In any case, it’s still NOT funny. I wonder how it will be greeted by any audience who knows that Jackson didn’t ‘turn white’ but had an aggressive form of vitiligo and dealt with it the best way he knew how, given the tools at hand at the time. Thanks for the information

  3. It became so accepted to ridicule Jackson for just about every aspect of his humanity, with the possible exception of his unique talents, even someone like Gregory apparently felt free to do so. Now that we know and now that vitiligo is recognized for what it is and how it affects a person, let’s hope these ignorant jokes are relegated to the junk heap where they belong.

  4. The mocking of Michael Jackson’s skin color is inappropriate. It should be public knowledge by this time that Jackson had a serious case of the skin disorder vitiligo. This condition is debilitating, both emotionally and physically and should not be ridiculed and especially not used to promote the New York Theater. It turned me off completely to consider attending the performance.

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