Q: Your heroes Ingmar Bergman and Louis Armstrong would be squares by today’s standards. Speaking of Armstrong, have you been to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina?
A. I haven’t. The jazz band that I play in was scheduled to do a PBS special at Preservation Hall, but it got canceled. Hopefully we’ll get to go back and do it.
It’s interesting, one of the first places I ever played clarinet publicly was in St. Louis. I was appearing at the Crystal Palace, which was a wonderful cabaret in the Gaslight Square district, and I played with a band run by Singleton Palmer. I used to go over and sit in with that band when I was in town doing stand-up comedy. I was a horrible, amateur musician, but between the shows where I was telling jokes, I would go play jazz.
I loved St. Louis. I had a wonderful time there, but I haven’t been back in a long time. I was having a talk once with Bob Costas, who had moved there, and it had such a seductive sound to it, the whole thought was such a nice fantasy; but listen, it’s nothing that I could do. I’m so entrenched here with my work and my band and my wife and her friends and our kids in school. But for some reason, there was such an idyllic or romantic notion to me about St. Louis, and I had many questions for Costas about how he was able to manage that.