The Blue Note at Sea Experience: The Comedy of Alonzo Bodden

Recently, we shared our belief that the Blue Note at Sea Experience is special because it is the sum of many beautiful elements, creating a musical mosaic like no other.

Mosaic Element #1 was our amazing lineup of main show headliners (Marcus Miller, Robert Glasper, Chris Botti, Sheila E, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Christian McBride, Brad Mehldau, David Sanborn). Nowhere else in the world is there a gathering of such top musicians, not just for an evening, but for days at a time. (If you missed Mosaic Element #1, read it here.)

Equally stunning is the long and fabulous list of Featured Performers, each of whom is a star. We hoped you enjoyed our chat about our All-Star Lineup of Featured Performers. and why they are Mosaic Element #2. (If you missed Mosaic Element #2, read it here.)

Mosaic Element #3 is a bit more cerebral and is driven by illustrious and iconic histories. Let’s delve into why the cruise is called Blue Note! (If you missed Mosaic Element #3, read it here.)

Our 4th Mosaic Element in the Blue Note at Sea Experience is laughter, particularly, the comedic stylings of Alonzo Bodden.

The association between jazz and comedy goes back to the ‘20s and continues to this day. Recently we dove deeply into the connection and learned that both art forms share the elements of improvisation, “at night” presentations, the essential element of timing and, most importantly, authenticity.

Jazz Musicians have a high wire act going. They take the stage and perform. Will the audience respond? Will they applaud? Will they beg for more? The response by the crowd is immediate, impossible to feign, and very intimate. They are judging the essence of the musician.

When a comic takes the stage, he/she is taking the ultimate risk. There is one acceptable response for a comic and that is laughter. It either is part of the crowd’s reaction or it is not. No hiding. No ambiguities. Did they laugh?

The commonalities are remarkable. Alonzo Bodden is the comic-in-residence for Blue Note at Sea (and all Jazz Cruise, LCC sailings), a position he has held for more than a decade. Why has he been successful at this gig? In part, it is due to his ability to embrace the challenge of improvising comedy in front of the greatest musical improvisers and fans of improvisation in the world. Alonzo says there’s no greater compliment after a show than a musician saying, “that’s jazz.”

Doing so immerses Alonzo into the very essence of the at-sea jazz experience. Many comics do “their” show regardless of venue, time of day, day of the week, or another outside variable. Alonzo knows that he is on a cruise ship that abounds with the very best jazz musicians in the world. Creating a show that faces that situation in the eye, the ports, the latest in the news and trends of the day and does so in the only way that works…being funny…a Herculean task.

Yet, year after year, cruise after cruise, (Remember, Alonzo does 4 cruises in a row and no show is the same!), Alonzo brings it! He makes us laugh at ourselves, at each other and at whatever topic he decides to dissect.  True genius takes many forms. The humor of Alonzo is one of those forms.

Stay tuned, the next piece of the Blue Note at Sea Experience mosaic will be shared on June 15.

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