Event—Public Programming

Comedy in Black and White: Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen

—"A Night at Mister Kelly's" Program

Join these renowned comedians as they reminisce about their careers and Mister Kelly’s.

This program will be held in-person at the Newberry and livestreamed on Zoom. The online version of this event will be live captioned. Please register below.

In this edition of “Conversations at the Newberry,” Timothy Reid and Tom Dreesen discuss their long and storied careers as comedians and performers while reflecting back to their time at Mister Kelly’s, as possibly the first interracial comedy duo. Moderated by Ron Rapoport.

Hard to find new copies of the out-of-print book Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White, as well as Tom Dreesen's recent book, Still Standing … My Journey from Streets and Saloons to the Stage, and Sinatra, will be available for purchase in the Newberry Bookshop, and the speakers will sign copies after the program.

This event is part of programming connected to our free exhibition A Night at Mister Kelly’s, running March 21 through July 20, 2024. Programming for the exhibition is generously supported by the D&R Legacy Fund. This program has received additional support from Sue and Melvin Gray.

Check out our Mister Kelly's Spotify playlist.


Tim Reid is an Emmy-nominated actor, writer, producer, and director from Norfolk, Virginia. After college, Reid moved to Chicago, taking a position as one of the first black marketing representatives with DuPont Corporation. That same year, as part of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Harvey, Illinois, Reid met Tom Dreesen, a white native of Chicago’s South Side. The two partnered to create an anti-drug program for students, which led them to form arguably the first interracial comedic duo, Tim and Tom. From 1971 to 1975 they toured throughout the world, including performances at Mister Kelly’s. Tim then settled in Los Angeles, where he starred in several television series and moved into television and film production.

Tom Dreesen has been in show business for 50 years. Since his early days performing with Tim Reid at Mister Kelly’s and throughout the world, he has made more than 500 solo appearances on national television as a stand-up comedian, including more than 60 on The Tonight Show. He was one of David Letterman's favorite guests and frequently hosted the show in Letterman's absence. Tom has also appeared countless times in Las Vegas, Tahoe, Reno, and Atlantic City alongside such artists as Smokey Robinson, Liza Minnelli, and Sammy Davis Jr. And, for 13 years, he toured the nation as the opening act for Frank Sinatra.

Ron Rapoport, moderator, is an author who collaborated with Tim and Tom on the book Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White. He has long covered sports and entertainment for national publications and radio, including a stint as a sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Cost and Registration

This program is free and open to all. Advance registration required.

Registration opens April 1.

In-Person Registration

Support the Newberry

Your generosity is vital in keeping the library’s programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone.

Make a Gift


Call us at (312) 255-3592 or send us an email.

Email Us

Past Public Programs

Check out video recordings of past Newberry public programs on our YouTube channel.