Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Nipsey Russell

Dressed in a conservative business suit and tie but wearing a raffish porkpie hat, he offered a confident, sophisticated approach to comedy. His jokes and topical observations were often delivered in the form of aphorisms and rhymes. He had begun reading Shelley, Homer, Keats and Paul Laurence Dunbar when he was 10 and sometimes quoted from Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." Hip, glib and conspicuously intelligent, he attracted downtown crowds to Harlem, becoming a standout attraction at the Baby Grand, Small's Paradise and other cabarets with quips like "America is the only place in the world where you can work in an Arab home in a Scandinavian neighborhood and find a Puerto Rican baby eating matzo balls with chopsticks."
Nipsey Russell was one of the people who seemed to be living in the television when I was a teenager. He was always there. I'll miss him.

LINK: "Nipsey Russell, a Comic With a Gift for Verse, Dies at 80" (from the New York Times)

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