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The Gig: Live at the Village Improv

Nate Chinen on Jazz and Comedy

Craig Taborn isn’t the first jazz name that comes to mind when you think of standup comedy. Articulate but withdrawn, the pianist doesn’t seek out attention or chase validation; he saves his abundant wit for the music. But that’s where my mind wandered one morning this April, when I learned that Louis C.K., the scabrous, brilliantly unsparing comic, had been spotted at the Village Vanguard for Taborn’s late Sunday-night set. As a fan of Louis C.K., I savored the thought of him huddled at a familiar little table in the dark, puzzling over Taborn’s beautifully abstruse inventions. The notion made some sense, given that Louie, his rightly acclaimed television series, uses an original jazz score. And it made me realize something I’d never previously considered: I wanted to see Louis C.K. on the Vanguard stage.

What I had begun to fantasize about was a convergence between the worlds of jazz and standup comedy, at the practical, club-going level. I was envisioning a regular spate of inspired double bookings, in which wryness meets its counterpart, and goofiness does the same. Jen Kirkman and Jenny Scheinman. Aziz Ansari and Robert Glasper. Jim Gaffigan and Matt Wilson. Dane Cook and-nobody, never mind Dane Cook. Forget I mentioned Dane Cook.

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