Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pops, the Jazzman

This is Pops, the new Jazzman character from Axtell Expressions.

I've been kicking around dialogues to use with Pops when he arrives, and the big question hit me: How does a white ventriloquist with a black dummy deal with racial material? Or should he?

I've watched Pete Michaels with Mr. Jefferson and Woody D and Jeff Dunham with Sweet Daddy Dee. Much of the material is about the racial differences between the dummies and the puppets. Those guys are good at that. I'm not sure I know how.

I have a preliminary sketch in which Pops talks about innocently wandering into a Klan rally in the woods outside a small Southern town in the 1950s. Later he meets the same guys at his gig at the Fireman's Ball. I think it's a funny premise, but I wonder if others will.

Pops and I have something in common. We're both jazz musicians. White jazz musicians have endured an inferiority complex for years. It's summed up in the Ann Hampton Callaway tune, "I'm-Too-White-To-Sing-The-Blues Blues." Perhaps there's a premise somewhere in there.

But our common interest means that the race card doesn't necessarily have to be played between Pops and me. I'm sure I can find something funny about being a jazz musician.

"Yeah, Daddy, I took so much Prozak, I can't play the blues."


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