Snohomish County entertainment
A new Dick Gregory?
Times Snohomish County bureau
Preacher Moss had better listen to his manager.
Especially because she's also his mother.
Mary Moss has dispatched her comedian son to more than 100 high schools, colleges, service clubs and detention centers this year alone.
"There were only 29 days in February, and he did about 35 sessions," Mama Moss said. "He'll do one, hop in the car and drive to another city."
For the past four years, Bryan "Preacher" Moss has been touring the country, turning America's racial divide into material, much the way comedian Dick Gregory did in the 1960s. Their conversational approach to comedy is similar.
And both are avid newspaper readers. Moss, who lives in Southern California, had read about a recent cross burning on the lawn of a minister in Arlington, for example.
"If you think about it, to hate somebody takes very little creativity," he said. "It's one of the few things that can be self-sustaining and completely redundant. I have a soft spot for racists; it requires you to be dumb for a long time."
Moss will give a free lunchtime talk titled "The End of Racism" at noon Monday in the Triton Union Building, Room 202, on the Edmonds Community College campus, 2000 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood.
Moss, who has appeared on "Comedy Central" and "Politically Incorrect," and has written for "Saturday Night Live" and "The Damon Wayans Show," focuses on the status of civil rights in the U.S.
"Poverty and racism persist because there's a status quo," he said. "I talk about racism as a limitation. It affects everybody from the big things to the small things. Racism is the reason you never see any black people in Grey Poupon commercials. Somebody's driving by with a rolled-down window, the implication is it's a drive-by (shooting)."
Just as Gregory put America's assumptions and prejudices out for all to see, bursting on the scene in 1959 and for more than 40 years an outspoken comedian, actor and civil-rights activist, Moss wants to do the same.
"He's my hero," Moss said. "Dick Gregory represents something that's missing now in comedy. They have Chris Rock, but he comes nowhere near (Gregory). He's not that versed in social humor."
Moss grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of a member of the Black Panthers and a mother who had met the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and joined his movement as a teen. Seeing comedians on stage, he knew he wanted to do comedy, but "I wasn't a joke writer — I was a concept writer, which really assisted in doing conversational humor."
He had been teaching special education in Milwaukee for about three years when he met Darrell Hammond. Moss was the opening act in 1994 for a live gig by Hammond, who went on to do "Saturday Night Live."
"I'd do ideas and concepts on how you have a voice for minorities, race and social problems, getting him to be empathetic before he got into the character."
Later, Moss wrote for Wayans' act and for "The George Lopez Show." He had toured with Lopez in a live show for five years before Lopez got his TV series, and Moss acted as a liaison between the writers and the character Lopez portrays.
Moss got the nickname "Preacher" from a kid in his mother's church. "I'd do imitations of the minister doing a bad sermon."
When his mom heard from Moss' college buddies at Marquette University that her son was doing stand-up comedy in Milwaukee, "I had to go see for myself, make sure he's not telling blue jokes," she said.
"It blew me away," she said of his act. "At the end of it all, I went backstage, and he was so shocked. He said, 'Mom, why didn't you tell me?' I said, 'I just wanted to see if you had a clean act.'
"I said, 'Wow, I'm not going to say this because you're my son. You're good!' "
Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or email@example.com
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