Spokane comedian Scott Kirkingburg is a disciple of the Lenny Bruce style of comedy.
The late 1950s and ’60s-era comedian, satirist, author and free speech defender had a major impact on Kirkingburg – not only because of the way he used the power of performance to take on complex social issues, but also because of his improvisational, jazzlike style.
Like Bruce, Kirkingburg is an ardent believer in free speech. And he loves jazz music.
Mixing improv music with comedy seemed like the obvious way to take his own act to the next level. So he spearheaded a weekly jazz and comedy show in Spokane Valley, which makes its downtown debut this weekend.
Blacklisted Jazz and Comedy on the Edge arrives Saturday night at The Lion’s Lair, 205 W. Riverside Ave.
The three-hour show features performances by Kirkingburg and other local comedians, accompanied by Spokane jazz-fusion trio Bobby’s Blacklist.
“This all comes from ’60s beat poetry and Lenny Bruce. Because he was talking about controversial racial issues and equality issues, his comedy found a home in jazz clubs in Southern California and Chicago,” Kirkingburg explains.
“The crowd was more bohemian, I guess you could say. Because of that I started thinking, how cool would it be to deliver comedy and funny spoken-word stuff over that style of music? Especially because jazz is all about going with the moment and creating it on the spot. I’m not a musician, but the two seemed so intertwined at the roots.”
Musically, this fusion of improv arts features a contemporary post-bop jazz-based mix of funk, rock, R&B and urban grooves.
The players in Bobby’s Blacklist include singer/saxophonist/composer Rachel Bade-McMurphy, drummer/trumpeter Brendan McMurphy and bassist/drummer Don Caverly.
Saturday is one in a series of special engagements at area bars and other venues, spotlighting a rotating cast of young talent. The format offers a stage for comedians whose content is strictly for adult audiences.
Kirkingburg and company also appear regularly on Sunday nights at Mama’s Thaiway Lounge, 5908 E. Broadway Ave.
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