Jerry Seinfeld went on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night to perform a stand-up set, and it just felt weird to me. I think it was because there was no puffy shirt. And by “puffy shirt,” I don’t literally mean it was weird because I can only enjoy his stand-up when he’s wearing a puffy pirate shirt. I mean it more metaphorically, as a reference to his show Seinfeld, aka the greatest comedy ever created, according to people who like to argue about that kind of thing. It was weird to see Seinfeld doing stand-up for five straight minutes without it being intercut with stories about nothing starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander. I would like anything better if it starred Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but that’s not the only problem here. This new stand-up felt like it was stuck in the ’90s without all the ’90s identifiers we expect, i.e. his sitcom format. Or the theme song.
I love Seinfeld and I watch reruns constantly. I like Seinfeld (the person) in that format, but it’s the situational comedy aspect of the show that I enjoy, not necessarily the stand-up scenes that open and close each episode. That whole “What’s the deal with [insert everyday thing]?” style just doesn’t tickle my funny bone in the same way crazy antics do, so to get that stand-up style transplanted from 1993 to 2013 without all the trimmings of a sitcom set-up feels wrong to me. Seinfeld’s jokes still comment on gender differences and everyday experiences, except this time they’re updated so that instead of talking about dating, it’s about marriage and being a dad, and instead of “What’s the deal with airplane food?” it’s “What’s the deal with golf?” Because he’s older now and golf is what older people play.
I have a lot of ideas about why this stand-up didn’t resonate with me. First, maybe I just haven’t watched enough Seinfeld stand-up apart from the stuff I saw on his sitcom and I’m letting the show influence me too much. In fact that’s extremely likely. Two, maybe Seinfeld’s style has been mimicked and twisted by so many comics that hearing it from him in modern-day sounds stale and unoriginal as a result. Or three, maybe I just prefer Seinfeld in the sitcom role instead of the stand-up one. Maybe I need that Larry David influence in there to satisfy me. And that’s okay. We all like different things. I can go watch one of the approximately 873 reruns of Seinfeld on in a given day, and you can go ahead and watch this stand-up clip. If that’s what you wanna do. To each his own, lah di dah, c’est la vie, carpe diem, yodel.