By Billy Crystal
What’s happening out there to the jazz man is out of control.
While not an actual jazz man myself, I have played one several times, giving me a special insight into their trials and tribulations. The few times I’ve played a jazz man, it has been met with ridicule of a very racist nature. For example, when I played my now world-famous jazz man character at the Oscars a few years ago, everyone went nuts over it. Most of all, they said that it was offensive that I wore jazzface. All I can say to that, folks, is shame on you. You love me when I’m just plain ol’ white Billy C herding cattle and hanging out with cowboys but the moment I attempt to portray a jazz man, everybody hates me? What does that say about you that I’m America’s sweetheart when I’m a non-jazz man but “offensive” and “out of touch with the times” when I’m a jazz man? For shame, America. For shame.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t think I don’t see what’s going on out there on the streets, where the common jazz man is just trying to make ends meet, possibly playing a saxophone on the street corner or perhaps shining a business owner’s shoes, as jazz men often do. The police come out there and they take their saxophones and their shoe shine and they… well, I don’t even want to talk about it. We’ve all seen the footage. It’s hard enough being a jazz man without all of this beating and murdering nonsense. You know how many jazz men there are? Me either, but I’ve met at least five and let me tell you in jazz talk; it ain’t none too easy bein’ no jazz man, man. Ask any of them, they’ll tell you just like that. I know how they talk because I’ve played a jazz man.
I tell ya, it’s almost enough to make me sick, the way jazz men get murdered. I’d do something about it myself, real personal like, but I have a platform that a lot of jazz men don’t have; being a comedy legend. I can use my humor to transform people’s perceptions of what it’s like being a jazz man. A lot of people think it’s all practicing the saxophone and then playing the saxophone, and that’s mostly true, but there are also a lot of nuances to being a jazz man that people don’t know about. For example, did you know that jazz men have been around since America started? Who knew! I know I didn’t until an youtube commenter informed me on my popular hurricane Katrina video, the rest of what he said was not as helpful and a great deal more anti-Semitic.
Apparently, when this country started, the jazz man wasn’t allowed to play his saxophone. Instead he was forced to do very non-jazz man things that I don’t want to even get into. I was appalled. I had no idea their culture was so dark. I’d just seen Sammy Davis Jr. in an interview once. I hadn’t even heard of a jazz man before then. It was a great interview and I started doing impressions of him around the school yard. People loved it and in the process were learning to love jazz men. Sure, I didn’t know then that I was breaking new ground all over the place in the race department, but I was, and in retrospect, I think that I was something of a hero. A beacon of hope for the jazz man. It wouldn’t be the last time.
Years later I would star in a popular series of cowboy-themed comedies that America didn’t think they wanted, but found out they needed. At that point, everyone in the country hated cowboys. There hadn’t been a decent movie about them since I was a kid. After Clint Eastwood really stunk up the genre, I knew that it would be no easy feat to bring it back. I would need an arsenal of mildly-homophobic jokes and at least 3-5 scenes where people slipped in poop. Portraying the main character myself, I knew that I had to be more than gorgeous, I had to act good. And act good I did. I herded that cattle, I pretended to hold a man for warmth and I slipped in that poop. Over and over again I slipped in that poop and the box office paid me a king’s ransom for it. Overnight I went from being one of the most successful comedians on the planet to being one of the most successful comedians on the planet with slightly more money. And I made cowboys cool again. I was on top of the world. That’s when I decided to set my sights back on helping the jazz man.
I figured that what I did for cowboys, I could also do for jazz men. I spent the next twenty-five years perfecting my Sammy Davis Jr. impression and hit that stage in whatever city it was that hurricane Katrina happened in and I did the best darn jazz man they’ve seen this side of a real jazz man. The audience, for the most part, just sat in stunned silence. Unable to even respond with the laughs I could tell they were so desperately holding in. The press, however, wasn’t a fan. They lampooned me, saying that it was disgusting and racist. Racist!? I can play a cowboy but I can’t play a jazz man!? I hate to break it to you folks, but I’m not actually a cowboy either. I’ve also never been Robert DeNiro’s therapist and I sure the heck never met Sally.
It’s all a lie! All of acting is! How is it that I’m telling you all this now for the first time? Boy, you know what? If the jazz men think they have it bad, they should see this garbage I’m dealing with over here. Maybe you should all be playing me? Huh? Put on a little Billyface and show the world what it’s like? Nobody tries to sympathize with me, they expect me to meet them more than halfway. Well, you know what? I’m sick of it! Put yourselves in my shoes for a day! I don’t even know how to play the saxophone! Do you know how much that haunts me!? And you jazz men just rub it in my face! Maybe I wanna learn how to play the saxophone too but I don’t have the time because I’m too busy helping your sorry behinds!? Oh, no, you don’t have a minute for Billy? I’ve had DECADES for you. I did everything I could and nobody comes to my defense when I get slammed like this? You know I’m on your side! You know that! Yet you just sit there and do nothing as I’m raked over the coals!? But I know you won’t help me, jazz men. Sammy wouldn’t have helped me either. I’m pretty sure he hated me for some reason. But I thought it would be different with the rest of you. I thought you’d finally accept me, but here we are.
I guess my daddy was right after all; you jazz men are all the same.