The 90s were often characterized by sitcom stars embodying the human experience of mediocrity. However, it was a certain nasal-voiced stand-up comedian starring in the infamous “show about nothing” that truly stole the genre.
Seinfeld has been named by Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone as the most influential sitcom of the generation. The show still remains a highly-watched and rated series that produced nine timeless seasons in its run from 1989-98.
Post-Seinfeld, the presence of creator and star Jerry Seinfeld was generally restricted to live stand-up and the web-series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In 2017, however, Netflix put forward $100 million for a Seinfeld stand-up special and bought the right to distribute the web-series, allowing the comedian to make an official mainstream return on today’s most popular platform for media consumption.
The stand-up special, titled Jerry Before Seinfeld, is a return to Seinfeld’s roots. This hour-long event puts the comedian back in the comedy club that started it all for him in the 70s, The Comic Strip. He combines classic jokes from his early stand-up routines with some new material, adding video-paired anecdotes to tell the story of his rise through the comedy scene.
What becomes apparent all too quickly is that for a Seinfeld fan, this won’t compete with his funniest performances, nor will you be hearing anything all that new.
Rather, the familiarity of certain jokes, even before the punchline is said, grants a smile and a chuckle here and there.
It’s almost as if Seinfeld knows he isn’t cracking up the at-home audience. He readily adds a “you’ve heard this one before” and “that was one of my favorite jokes to use on an audience.”
But, of course, the live audience seems to be having a great time — almost making you want to laugh along with them. For the unfamiliar Seinfeld fan, the references to the late comedy show and inside jokes may be intimidating and force unintended laughter. This reason alone keeps me from recommending it to newer Seinfeld fans.
However, for the avid old-time viewer, Seinfeld’s second special comes as a pleasant surprise. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee was originally a web-series distributed by Sony’s video streaming network Crackle, but its Netflix debut came on Jan. 5 of this year.
With nine seasons averaging six to 10 episodes each, Seinfeld combines classy cars, lovable friends and a plain cup of coffee to create an engaging foundation for witty and interesting conversation.
Guests include other comedians like Tina Fey, Chris Rock and Kevin Hart, talk-show hosts Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Trevor Noah, and even former United States President Barack Obama, who was still in office during
The series has been active since 2012, with its first guest Larry David setting the stage for a show with a strong yet comforting concept.
As a viewer, it can sometimes feel as though you’re present at the breakfast table with the stars — possibly enjoying your first cup of the day too. But when Kevin Hart and Seinfeld go sneaker shopping later, you’re gently
nudged back into reality.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is a hit for Seinfeld fans, as is his stand-up special. The show succeeds at reaching a further demographic of talk-show lovers by capturing the effortlessness of late-night television hosts, but within the context of a pleasant coffee date or peaceful dinner-and-a-show.
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