Jerry Seinfeld was recently criticized by Vulture for not responding to “the moment” by shifting the focus of his popular Netflix show to “woke” politics. Seinfeld has never been apologetic for his candid way of discussing comedy with his guests in the show, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.”
He isn’t there to blow the lid off of any hot stories, or try to present his own politics as the only way. He simply has coffee with people he finds funny, and they discuss, well, whatever they feel like. This is the beauty of the show, and Seinfeld, now in his sixties, having maintained his status as comedic royalty for almost thirty years, is free to do whatever he wants.
Season 10 of the show premiered on Netflix in early July, and some expected the format to shift after its move from Crackle to the streaming giant. Other than the absence of the overt product placement of Acura, Seinfeld hasn’t changed the show one bit. He calls up a fellow comedian, and picks them up for some coffee.
They talk about comedy, the quirks of being famous, and together, they make observations about the world around them. Rarely discussed are serious personal stories or disparaging opinions of people in the news (unless it’s funny). Seinfeld and his guest treat the viewer to a glimpse of what it would be like to just sit and make hilarious small talk with comedic giants.
The left identified comedy as an effective platform to share their message with the greater public, beginning with “The Daily Show,” and took over every late night talk show by the time Donald Trump became a serious political candidate. Left leaning comedians and their ultra-woke fans have recently been quite open about their belief that jokes aren’t necessary for comedy as long as there is a powerful, anti-Trump plea to the public. But some comedians have spoken out against this trend, defending comedy as a place for laughter, not emotional theater.
Seinfeld is of course a huge advocate of humor in comedy. “If I’m not funny, people die,” he told Alec Baldwin in 2014, adding: “I don’t ‘hang out’ on stage. I’m up there to work. I’m going to work for you because I respect this relationship and I want to keep it.”
He found his success as a comedian the old fashioned way — by being really funny. He struggled through the ’80s in night clubs, and slowly clawed his way into massive mainstream success with his sitcom, “Seinfeld.” He found a way to relate to the public, and canonized the “have you ever noticed?” style of comedy that few others have been able to touch.
“Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” is a talk show with almost no structure outside of riding in vintage cars and drinking coffee. This works because Seinfeld can work without structure. He knows almost every working comedian and comedic actor, whether they are old or young. Seinfeld knows their style, and interviews them as a sort of comedy Yoda.
“Being a comedian is almost a language in itself,” he told the LA Times in 2016. “Comedians talk to each other very differently than most normal people.”
He’s right, and that’s what makes his show so special and so worth watching. These aren’t just five minute interviews with celebrities looking to promote an upcoming project — they are an authentic look behind the curtain of the world of comedy.
Seinfeld exudes a cool confidence during his conversations on the show, the kind of confidence that only comes from decades of experience and success. No matter how famous or quirky his guest is, he makes no adjustment to his own style of sharing and observing. Jerry is clearly a person who loves to laugh, and his funny guests don’t have to get into their professional routines to amuse him. He seems to be thoroughly enjoying his time driving them around, with or without the cameras. It’s truly an interview with no interview at all. It’s just two hilarious people having a candid, fun conversation.
This anti-interview comedy show is in no way a place to get serious and talk about the issues outside of comedy and show business. Seinfeld has created a wonderful escape from all of that. Vulture’s article criticizes the comedian for brushing off his guests’ political concerns and for being “anti-woke.” Both sentiments, I imagine, come as a delight to Seinfeld, who has carefully crafted an “I don’t care” persona over 10 seasons. Tragedy-laced pleas for social action may be having their moment in comedy, but Jerry Seinfeld and “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” are, mercifully, not part of it.