KNOXVILLE, Tenn. March 18, 2022) – Iconic stand-up comedian and actor Jimmie “JJ” Walker is bringing some much-needed comic relief to East Tennessee with 2 shows at The Bird & The Book at 1509 East Broadway in Maryville this Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26. Showtimes are 7:30 to 11:30 pm, Doors and the bar will open at 5 pm.
“I am booked in Texas this weekend, and then I’m headed to Maryville at The Bird and Book,” Walker said. “This will be a great chance for people who have never been to a comedy show.” He last visited the area about four years ago as a guest signer at Knoxville Fanboy Expo.
Now 74 years old, persons under 40 may not be familiar with Walker’s body of work that spans over five decades. Walker was raised in Harlem and became a stand-up comedian after graduating from Dewitt Clinton and Theodore Roosevelt High School. He worked with The Black Panthers and The Last Poets in the late 1960s and early 70s and soon went to work on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” as the opening act for performers that include Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, and The Four Seasons.
Producer Norman Lear saw Walker’s talent and placed him in the role of James “JJ” Evans Jr, on the CBS sitcom “Good Times,” which premiered in 1974. The show was a success, and so was JJ and his catchphrase “Dyn-O-Mite!” During his tenure on “Good Times,” Walker worked with many stars including John Amos, Esther Rolle, and a 10-year-old Janet Jackson. Good Times aired for six seasons, 1974 to 1979, with reruns of the popular show still being aired.
Walker won a ‘TV Land Award’ and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1975 and 1976 for his performance and was also named Time Magazine’s 1970’s Comedian of The Decade. Walker has remained active in television, movies, and stand-up. His movie roles span from 1979 to 2011 to include ‘The Concorde,’ ‘Airplane’ and ‘Super Shark.’ The comedian has also made numerous appearances in television shows that include “Bustin Loose” “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and Scrubs.
The JJ Walker Comedy show in Maryville will also feature Todd Link and host Absaar Siddiqui. The promoter, Cristy Barnett Barrick is based in Florida by way of Maryville, Tenn. Cristy B is a Maryville High School alum, comedienne, promoter and business owner.
When she was 24, Cristy moved to Atlanta to become a flight attendant, then 12 years later she moved to Florida, married, and had three children. Things did not stay sunny in Florida for Cristy B.
Cristy turned to her love of comedy to turn things around. “I hit a low-point in life going through a divorce. I turned to stand-up to go in a new direction with my life. It was something I wanted to do for years. I started meeting comics and making friends. Things started to grow, I went from a short four-minute set (at venues) to presently booking amazing, nationally touring comedians.”
The comedienne and promoter primarily books shows in Florida with some at her own venue, Cristy B’s Comedy Club in Daytona Beach. She is now branching out and hosting shows in her hometown of Maryville.
“The Bird & The Book has been a great location for us. We love the close-up experience at the venue, but I booked two Jimmie Walker shows in order to give more people a chance to see the show.” The venue accommodates about 100 patrons with VIP tables, front row seating, group tables, sofas and general admission seats.
Walker thinks very highly of Cristy B. “I am doing this show for Cristy B. as she is a wonderful human being,” he said. “She is very funny and a great businesswoman, something I wanted to point out since it is women’s history month,” he said. “She is raising three children and on the road running a business. I don’t know how she does it, yet Cristy B keeps doing a great job while balancing her personal life.”
Cristy B has a plan. “I want to build up the comedy scene in Knoxville and Maryville,” she said. “Eventually I would like to move back home to Maryville and have a comedy club somewhere (in the East Tennessee area). That is my dream and goal, and with a lot of hard work, it will happen.”
Comedy can be a tough act to sell. “Knoxville has had a few shots at having a great comedy club, but nothing has been successful,” Walker said. “Cristy B knows what it takes to make a comedy show work. If anybody can find a way to make a club successful in the Knoxville area, it is her.”
Cristy B is seeking venues in the East Tennessee area where she can promote events. “We are looking for any business that would love to have a show at their venue,” Cristy B said. “If we can keep getting the bookings, we will have more big names from the world of comedy.” Those interested can make contact through Facebook or the website.
Tickets for the 3 1/2 hour show range from $25 single to $200 for a VIP table for four. To purchase a ticket or make group reservations click here.