Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What Is Jazz?

I love Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows. My father raised me on a steady diet of cornball humor, bad puns, antiquated jokes ("A beatnik slinks into a diner...") and an appreciation for physical comedy. Which isn't to say I'll bray at any pratfall- I like the good stuff. While it makes most of my friends cringe, give me hokey, corny, post-vaudevillian, birth-of-television comedy any time. With Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner cutting their comedy-writing teeth, how can you go wrong?

This unusually staged clip from Your Show of Shows is one of my favorites. Sid Caesar does a hilariously artful, air-headed riff asking: "What is jazz?" ("Jazz is a beautiful woman whose older brother is a policeman.") -while simultaneously giving a serious nod to the burgeoning artform. What follows is a stunning performance of "Beale Street" with Jack Cole and Chita Rivera.

If you can't dispense with five minutes to watch this crazy, wonderful performance, it's like, your loss, man.

Another favorite: This is Your Story

eta: The Mighty Boosh "Jazz Trance"