Jimmie Walker discusses changes in comedy climate ahead of Largo tour stop

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You'll likely remember him for his role on the show, "Good Times." Jimmie "JJ" Walker is touring the country doing stand-up comedy, and he's got a show in the Tampa Bay area Wednesday night. 

Walker was one of the first actors to break the race barrier on primetime TV and became a star. He was even named Time Magazine's "Comedian of the Decade" for the 1970s. He joined Good Day Tampa Bay to discuss his current tour, and how comedy has changed over the years.

Walker told FOX 13 he has been doing tours for 50 years, and has been to Tampa many times. He's been all over the world.

"We worked a lot for the troops," he explained. "Everybody does the Afghanistan, Iraq tour. You fly in the big planes with the noise and everything."

He thinks he even flew out from MacDill Air Force Base. 

"It's always fun to go to different places and meet different people," Walker explained. "You're here in Tampa…then you go to like, Afghanistan, and people go, ‘We watch you all the time. We see you!'"
"It's always good to see them too," he added.

Walker said he has noticed the comedy climate has changed, including the racial jokes.

"In the last few years, we self-segregated," he described. "There's white comedy now. There's black comedy. There's Hispanic comedy."

When it comes to language, he said comedians have become bolder with using stronger, or explicit, words. 

"When we did Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson, you couldn't say, ‘hell' or ‘damn' on TV," Walker explained. "Now…it is something else. What in the name of Cocoa Puffs is going on? You watch the language now, you can't even believe it. Do you talk to your mother like this? Oh my goodness."

He believes that has eliminated some more of the elderly crowd. In addition to the language and racial jokes, politics are transformed comedy too, he said.

"We never had that with Johnny Carson," Walker said. "Now, it's so divided. Some people just can't handle it – no matter who you're for."

As for Walker's comedy show, alongside Jimmie Walker, Artie Fletcher and Bob Nelson, it is a family show, he said.

The event starts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 9 at the Largo Central Park Performing Arts Center. Ticket information can be found at LargoArts.com.