I love comedy. I’ve never hidden the fact that comedy is extremely important to me. I believe a laugh is good for the soul. And I’ve also made it quite clear that I believe comedy and music are intrinsically linked. Rhythms and repetition. Whether it be Hancock or The Office, good comedy is timed to perfection and is difficult to make look easy. In fact I’d go so far as to say that great comedy is an art, and should be considered just as worthy of praise as Sgt Pepper or OK Computer. A comedy series I hold aloft as one of the greats is Seinfeld. Bar the final episode, I often use Seinfeld as an example of a near perfect comedy. You’ll hear ‘experts’ telling you that it didn’t really warm up until season 4. Well, I’ll have none of it. Some of the finest episodes were very early on, and in my opinion, they were necessary to enable the show to progress. For the show to be labelled the ‘show about nothing’ it at least had to have once been the ‘show about nothing’. Parking in a multi-story car park. Waiting for a seat at a restaurant. Classic episodes. I could watch Seinfeld on a never ending loop – indeed at times I feel like I have! It’s that good. Yet… very few people in the UK have even heard of it. Such a shame.
So… it was with great delight that I went to see Jerry Seinfeld’s stand up show at Manchester Arena. To see the legend himself in action – excited was an understatement. He has stated that this gig will be his last ‘arena gig’. Hmmm… maybe… maybe not. Seinfeld certainly doesn’t need the money. He’s one of, if not the, richest comedian in the world. He’s got to be up there… with Larry David. Seinfeld and David… one of the greatest comedy writing teams ever! It’s weird… when I watch Seinfeld (the TV show) I usually ascribe the best jokes to Larry David. I assume he must have written them. Perhaps it’s because ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm‘ has continued in the same vein without Jerry Seinfeld’s participation. Whatever… it’s easy to dismiss Jerry Seinfeld in his own show. When you’ve got characters of the calibre of George and Kramer and a writer like Larry David along for the ride it’s possible to wonder what Jerry Seinfeld himself actually did? It was with all these thoughts that I settled down to watch Seinfeld in action. No bass slapping music for the entrance…
Seinfeld is a class act. The majority of the material seemed fresh – at least, it’s not on any DVDs that I own. Seinfeld is now doing this for fun and he says he’s riffing on topics that he really wants to talk about. So marriage gets a fair bash. Lots of genuinely funny moments. Relationships in general get a good outing. Seinfeld is obviously at ease with this whole thing. He’s been a stand up since the beginning of time. He comes across as a little more hectic than the Seinfeld from the TV show… but he still seems like a friend, (or as he says to the crowd “I’m your little, strange TV friend”). Funnily enough, the TV show does not get a single mention. Not one word. Nor does Larry David or any of his previous colleagues. This is just a straight stand up show. Very similar to the skits at the beginning of most of the Seinfeld episodes… but a little quicker, and a little more ‘shouty’. Some good punch lines and some moments that receive applause. But all in all I think people were just happy to be watching their idol. I can only guess at everyone else’s motivation for being there… but I would hope the Seinfeld show was higher up the list of reasons than, say, Bee Movie.
Jerry Seinfeld could have been in the Rat Pack. He has that ‘ease’ about him. Like he’s swinging through the moves… riffing on comedy like Sinatra would riff on a melody. And no swearing. This was basically a PG gig. Smooth. Yes I think smooth is the word. The typical subjects get an outing… mobile phones, energy drinks, things that suck and yet are also great. But, as I said before, he seems to get a kick out of the ‘relationship issue’ gags. One thing that dawned on me during the night was how much Seinfeld likely contributed to that great sitcom. A lot of ‘issues’ that I would have assigned to Larry are, on the evidence of tonight, likely to have originated from Jerry. This just makes me hold him in even higher regard.
A few negatives… He can occasionally come across as an old hand going through the motions. There’s no real sense of danger. There’s a slightly jaded sheen to the guy. Perhaps this is ‘Jerry in the UK’. ‘Jerry get on a plane to another country and switch on the joke-telling-auto-pilot-system’. And a shame he had to end on a ‘toilet gag’ already referenced in old episodes of Seinfeld and Curb. Most damning of all though… he was only on for about an hour. That is pretty inexcusable given the price of the tickets. But… hey… I think we can probably make allowances for one of the all time kings of comedy. Well… I certainly can. I’ve seen one of my heroes!!! And my face hurt from laughing!
Here’s a song written in the midst of my Seinfeld marathons! It’s called ’50s Teen Flick.