logo
logo

Jerry Seinfeld, Craftsman and Crank

avatar
Paul Williams
img

Somewhere toward the end of Jerry Seinfeld’s new Netflix special, “Jerry Before Seinfeld,” the comedian sits cross-legged on what looks like a quiet city street—it might be the kind of movie-lot facsimile on which “Seinfeld” was often shot—surrounded by hundreds of yellow notebook pages.

On the pages are uncountable jokes, scrawled in blue and black ink.

The scene—one of several short, nostalgic, and, for Seinfeld, surprisingly earnest interludes—further hones a persona that Seinfeld has been cultivating for fifteen years or so, beginning with his turn as the executive producer and star of the 2002 documentary “Comedian”: that of grateful tradesman, an evangelist for the virtues of his lifelong craft.

In the best episodes of his Internet interview show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” he commiserates with his co-laborers about their shared social phobias—at parties, they scurry off to find the nearest comedian—as well as the irreplaceable joy, after so many barely perceptible misfires, of perfecting the rhythm of a joke.

(The worst episodes, by contrast, tend to feature younger, somewhat sunnier comics whose work Seinfeld obviously cares about very little, and whose appeal to audiences probably confounds him.)

In the new special, Seinfeld, resorting to one of standup’s oldest go-to’s—stark, supposed behavioral divisions between large categories of people—says, “Men like things: fixing, building, working on things.” (He’s still the best out-loud italicizer in the business.)

collect
0
avatar
Paul Williams
guide
Zupyak is a free content platform for publishing and discovering stories, software and startups.