Dave Chappelle Plays Monk

"Does everybody have their cameraphones ready?" says Dave Chappelle before playing a respectably clean arrangement of "Round Midnight."

Chappelle actually makes it close to the bridge, asking "Am I close?" when he's near, but he gets further than probably 99% of multi-millionaire comics. I came across this video after watching Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2006) last night. It's a documentary directed by Michel Gondry about a massive concert-block party he helped organized in 2004 in Bed-Stuy. The concert featured an incredible line-up: Kanye, Mos Def, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Black Star, Common, Lauryn Hill (with The Fugees), and more. 

A majority of the film is concert footage, although there are segments of behind-the-scenes conversations with Dave, performers, and attendees travelling from Ohio (on Dave's "golden tickets" that he gave out to folks, providing transportation to and from the party). At one point, Dave plays a bit of "Round Midnight" on an old, out of tune piano in a Salvation Army. He talks a bit about the relationship between jazz and comedy, which was written about recently in a New Yorker blog post as well. Here's what Dave had to say:
One of my favorite musicians [Monk], cuz his timing was so ill. Every comedian is a stickler for timing, and Thelonious Monk was off time yet perfectly on time. You should study him if you're an aspiring comedian, or if you're an aspiring musician you should study him. 
Maybe it makes more sense to say "timing," rather than "time," when describing someone's time feel. Time isn't just a metronomic grasp of time—it's a sense of timing and determining the best moment to play a note or set of notes, either behind, on, or in front of the beat (the Time, capital T). 

* * * * * 

Also, it turns out Mos Def isn't a bad drummer. He plays some back-beat swing and a triplet shuffle feel behind Dave for a short comedy routine, and he holds it down! Also, a shout-out to Chris Farr, whom I took lessons from in high school and learned a great deal about harmony and playing the saxophone—you can see him playing in the movie (he's been playing with Jill Scott for quite some time now).