'The Poet Laureate of New York
'. Any time anyone says the words Nipsey Russell
, I immediately think of that title (and No-Talent Celebrity Tag
, but that's another matter entirely). The thing is, I have no clue
who Nipsey Russell is, except that he appears on Late Night with Conan O'Brien
sometimes, spouting verses like :
Roses are red
Violets are blue
The real Nipsey Russell says,
"Conan, screw you!"
Obviously, I needed to do more research on this character.
So, here's what little I could discover, straight from the Node What You Don't Know files. He's best known for Car 54, Where Are You?, both the television show and the recent lamentable motion picture. He was the Tin Man in The Wiz, the Quincy Jones-scored Am-I-blaxploitation-or-not? resouling of The Wizard of Oz*. He was the arch-nemesis of Charles Nelson Reilly on the old game show Match Game - I can respect that. I wonder if they ever came to blows backstage... can little Chucky even throw a roundhouse? I digress. Beyond that, there were a few more notable film and TV appearances (the by-the-book high school football comedy Wildcats chief among those), but there are tantalizing references to his bold comedic stylings and 'funky yet erudite poetry', of which I can find no examples, except the above quatrain, which is neither funky nor erudite.
Near as I can tell, he coasted into fame on the strength of his first name (come on, doesn't 'Nipsey' evoke a Thunderbird-soaked round of dirty jokes?) and on what I'm guessing was a clean(er-than-Redd-Foxx) comedy routine. I could be wrong, though... I leave the clarification of this matter to any latent Nipsey-philes who might be lurking here.
* The only time I've seen The Wiz was when I was six - I think it was the first time I'd seen more than one black person. Odd memories.
The Nipster died in 2005 at the age of 87 in New York City after suffering from stomach cancer. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered into the Atlantic Ocean.