The Best Show: Billy Crystal doing his "Jazz Man" character
April 24, 2016 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Tom Scharpling on The Best Show in 2006 listening to Billy Crystal's "Jazz man" impression at the Comic Relief Katrina benefit. Synced to the video from the DVD. (SLYT)
posted by josher71 (38 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
YES
THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST ASTOUNDING THINGS CRYSTAL HAS EVER DONE AND I LOVE WHEN SCHARPLING IS SO AT A LOSS FOR WORDS THAT HE JUST REPEATS "yuck"
posted by Greg Nog at 10:23 AM on April 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


TWO. THOUSAND. SIX???

ARE. YOU. SHITTING. ME????????
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:28 AM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Scharpling always goes on about how terrible Billy Crystal is.

And I love him for it! He's absolutely right. Billy Crystal sucks.

I like that this video uses a picture of Greg Universe. Whenever I listen to The Best Show now I always imagine it as Greg's project when Steven is away poofing corrupted gems.
posted by painquale at 10:30 AM on April 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


Yeah I love this for so many reasons.

First one, it really bugs me when celebrities who have just been around for a long time are exempt from criticism because what they did may have been groundbreaking 50 years ago.

Second one yeah imagining this as Greg Universe makes it even better.
posted by bleep at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


"If Michael Richards had just held up a flash card with the Comic Relief 800-number, he'd have been fine."

Tom Scharpling is a national treasure. I really need to catch up on my Best Show backlog.

Can we do his commentary on that one Phish song next? I love that bit, especially the way that song made its way into the sound collage.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:39 AM on April 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


I watched this recently, and it's really unbelievable. If ever there was a use for one of those ol'timey vaudeville canes to get acts off the stage...
posted by codacorolla at 10:43 AM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Even if you hate Billy Crystal how can anybody not like Miracle Max?
posted by lagomorphius at 11:05 AM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


This seems like a good place to mention that Tom has just been killing it in his hilarious appearances on Hollywood Handbook. It's become a serialized story where he's been muscling his way in as a third cohost.

Appearance 1 (Tom's segment starts at 19:20)
Appearance 2 (Tom's segment starts at 16:25)
Appearance 3 (with Jesse Thorn)
Appearance 4
Appearance 5
Appearance 6 (Where Tom tries to take over the podcast and turn it into The Big Apple Bible.)

He's in a live episode too, but it's weaker. #3 and #6 are especially good.
posted by painquale at 11:05 AM on April 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


I've listened to the audio a ton of times but I've never seen the video. Jesus
posted by edeezy at 11:22 AM on April 24, 2016


Tom Scharpling is the national treasure that hardly anyone knows about.
posted by rikschell at 11:45 AM on April 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


My first "yicch" came out of my mouth at the same time Tom said it, and from that point on I knew I was in a safe place.
posted by queensissy at 11:49 AM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


See also: Billy Crystal's Sammy Davis Jr.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:04 PM on April 24, 2016


"It's audio blackface." Yup. That character has been cringe-worthy and terrible since he debuted it, and when he brought it out for Katrina, I couldn't believe it.
posted by xingcat at 12:20 PM on April 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Sharpling: "They got this guy heaping the final indignity on them."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:22 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


lagomorphius: "Even if you hate Billy Crystal how can anybody not like Miracle Max?"

When Billy Crystal does an old Jewish man, he is funny. When he does an old black man, he is much less so.
posted by Splunge at 1:13 PM on April 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


But this puts his old Jewish man into a new context: boiling garbage.

I love Tom Sharpling. I discovered him tuning in various radio stations on an actual radio after moving into my first apartment in New York, moments before the rabbit hole of WFMU made my life better in a thousand ways.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 1:21 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


When Billy Crystal does an old Jewish man, he is funny. When he does an old black man, he is much less so.

Also, to be honest, it's easy to imagine just about any other talented Jewish comedian doing Miracle Max just as well.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:42 PM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


There are very few rules in life, but one of them is that white people are no longer allowed to say, "play de hoarn." EVEN IF YOU'RE A SOLIPSIST.
posted by rhizome at 2:02 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


"If Michael Richards had just held up a flash card with the Comic Relief 800-number, he'd have been fine."

Yeeaaahhh, no. I agree that this was an ill advised bit by Crystal, but placing this alongside an apoplectic Richards screaming the N word at an audience is comparing apples with hand grenades.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:11 PM on April 24, 2016


Yeah, in the sense that this is a whole lot fucking worse.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:19 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I cringe every time I see Crystal do Max as well.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 2:22 PM on April 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I mean, just to be clear, what I'm saying is this: While it's horrible to lob an N-bomb in anger, and Richards got an appropriate amount of public scorn for it, I feel like doing blackface schtick at a benefit event for Hurricane Katrina is some next level racist shit. Who the fuck is Billy Crystal to think he earned the right to speak as a black person from New Orleans?
posted by tobascodagama at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


From Wikipedia: Billy Crystal is the son of Helen and Jack Crystal, "who owned and operated the Commodore Music Store, founded by Helen's father, Julius Gabler. Jack Crystal was also a jazz promoter, a producer, and an executive for an affiliated jazz record label, Commodore Records, founded by Helen's brother, musician and songwriter Milt Gabler. Jazz artists such as Arvell Shaw, Pee Wee Russell, Eddie Condon, and Billie Holiday were often guests in [young BIlly Crystal's] home. With the decline of Dixieland jazz circa 1963, Crystal's father lost his business, and died later that year at the age of 54 after suffering a heart attack while bowling."

Crystal's uncle Milt Gabler, by the way, also issued Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" on Commodore, after her own label, Columbia, refused to release it. Gabler was the first to bring Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald together in a series of historic recording sessions, signed Bill Haley to Decca Records and produced "Rock Around the Clock".
posted by Modest House at 2:34 PM on April 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


If Billy Crystal had just held up a flash card with that Wikipedia page, he'd have been fine.
posted by hal9k at 3:14 PM on April 24, 2016 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I don't doubt that he loves this stuff, it's just his choice of expression, location, timing, and pretty much everything else about this.
posted by rhizome at 3:47 PM on April 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Crystal was perfect as a mime on Spinal Tap. No dialogue, just mugging.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:08 PM on April 24, 2016


Wow. I'd managed to avoid the Jazz Man until now. Speechless. Especially considering that he did this as recently as Katrina. He could almost get away with some excuse about a different time and changing social norms if he stopped doing the act, but there are no other respectable performers doing this crap after the 1970s - 80s. This is like the Blues Brother minus the humor and times 1000.
posted by p3t3 at 4:44 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh wow I haven't seen this bit since I saw it on television live. I felt the whole show was pretty bad but Billy Crystal's Jazzman sketch was a whole new level of cringe. My jaw didn't actually drop but slowly opened over the course of a few minutes. Being from St. Bernard Parish I know that people from the 9th ward don't talk like that, but I've known quite a few people from Da Parish that say "terlet" instead of "toilet".
posted by I_Zimbra at 5:01 PM on April 24, 2016


From Wikipedia:

Then he should fucking know better.
posted by beerperson at 6:46 PM on April 24, 2016 [13 favorites]


Opie & Anthony ripped this routine I think back in 2006. They counted the "can you dig it" and said "blackface" too.

https://youtu.be/1oVNoUrY9KQ

Disclaimer: I don't listen to Opie & Anthony. Youtube suggested this video after I listened to the Scharpling video.
posted by surplus at 7:02 PM on April 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Crystal was perfect as a mime on Spinal Tap. No dialogue, just mugging."

Well, he did have one of the best lines:"mime is money"
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:57 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I also hate Miracle Max. The whole movie grinds to a halt just so Crystal can ham it up.

Tom should do that as a Topic on The Best Show. Terrible characters in great movies.
posted by painquale at 9:03 PM on April 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Princess Bride was only 2 years after his "You Look Mahvelous" popularity, so he was probably given relatively free reign.
posted by rhizome at 9:19 PM on April 24, 2016


No. You are wrong. We can't dig this. We cannot.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:52 AM on April 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


The digging of this is most certainly out of the question, William.
posted by rhizome at 12:19 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is some of what Tom does best: something innocuously not good and deconstructing it until you see the how it is a combination of truly awful things in our society.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:43 PM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I always figured the way he pronounced "terlet" was one of Tom's weird quirks, but I also always figured that there was stuff from before 2007 when I started listening that I was missing. Glad to have solved this one. What a tapestry.
posted by one_bean at 8:24 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Miracle Max is easily the worst thing about the Princess Bride. In a movie full of memorable, original characters we get four and a half long minutes of Billy Crystal's generic Old Jewish Guy stereotype and Jewish Shrew Wife. Even as a kid watching the movie I rolled my eyes at that shit.
posted by benzenedream at 12:50 AM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


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