By Jimmie Walker
Hardcover, 264 pages ($25)
Walker, the Bronx-born comedian who rose to fame on the 1970s TV series “Good Times” with the catchphrase that’s now the title of his autobiography, paints a revealing self-portrait that also depicts the changing times of a socially charged era. He exposes the behind-the-scenes tensions between the actors on the set of the TV show that belied the cozy, close-knit family America watched on their screens every week; addresses the criticisms leveled at his character, “J.J.” Evans, as Walker became one of television’s first black sitcom superstars; discusses his years as a young comedian, rising to fame opening shows for musicians Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen—and being fired by Barry Manilow—and paying a group of greenhorn comedy writers (including David Letterman and Jay Leno) $150 a week to pen his jokes. “ Showbiz is like a greased pole,” writes Walker. “Even if you climbed to the top, sooner or later you are going to slide back down. I still climb that pole every day. I may not reach the top again, but at least my butt is off the ground.” It’s a dyn-o-mite read.