The New Jerry Seinfeld Special On Netflix



Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill

It’s astounding. Truly.

It reminds me of seeing “Hamilton,” before the hype, during previews, just before opening night. I’m sitting there thinking…can this sustain, can this really be this good throughout?


But there’s a difference, “Hamilton” is warm, Seinfeld is cool.

As in you’d like to hang with Seinfeld to experience his brain, but you don’t think you could be friends. As much as he reveals his truth, he’s still surrounded by a force field that you won’t be able to penetrate.

So it’s about the jokes. The marvel of this special is there’s not one extra word, no wasted time. Normally you go see a comedian and there’s a long setup. There are asides, not elements of the jokes, connecting the comedian with the audience outside the programming. But there’s none of that here. Jerry comes out to a fanfare and then he hits them over the fence again and again and again.

This is not the pre-“Seinfeld” Jerry.

You used to see him on Carson, other places on television. He was never calm and quiet, but he only exhorted for emphasis. Here he’s playing to the very last row, on the verge of shouting. But that’s what makes the difference between a live show and one concocted in the studio. If you were there, you would have gotten it.

That’s the initial routine, about being there, organizing the trip, the tickets.

Jerry is the antidote to Covid-19. We’re taking everything so seriously, it’s life and death, you versus me, it’s a battle with everything on the line. But instead of focusing big, Seinfeld focuses small. As he always has. On the little things in life. And it’s definitely about life. The absurdities of it. You’ll watch and marvel, because you will have experienced what he’s talking about again and again and again.

This is not Chris Rock, smiling, laughing at his own jokes. Chris is leading up to the big punchline, you’re with him all the way, on the ride, he’s your bud. But Seinfeld starts at the same line but is always ahead of you, you don’t relax, sink into your chair, at best you’re holding on, as he takes you through a wild tour of New York City as well as your domicile.

Yes, Seinfeld is the Carlin of our day.

But with shorter jokes and many more punchlines. And, once again, without the same warmth.

Jerry got beaten up for saying he was on the spectrum. You can never get it right in today’s world, you’re always offending someone. What they want you to do is shut up, so they and their perspective can triumph. Then again, without you violating their rules they’ve got little to live for.

Now it’s been well-documented that Seinfeld did a long run at the Beacon. The pitch was the theatre was just down the street from his home, he could go to it like a job.

And that’s very different from going on the road. It’s more akin to Broadway. But in this case, it’s only Jerry. I wonder how long it takes him to come down after the show.

He doesn’t need to hang around, talk with the promoter, take pictures with insiders. It’s the same venue every night, he could literally walk right off the stage into a cab, or maybe an Uber…Jerry nails that too, tying it in with the iPhone.

It’s masterful, how Jerry analyzes each and every element of our humdrum lives. He even nails the husband/wife situation, hearkening back to Alan King and the comedians of yore.

You see Jerry is singular. This is what he does. And no one does it anywhere near as well as he does. If you want it, he’s got it.

This is from the era where it was about unique identity, before the millennial generation dictated that you had to saw off your rough edges and fit in. Jerry’s a boomer through and through, he wants to shine, he wants the accolades.

Watching this you can see the difference between Jerry and Larry David. Yes, Larry constructed the byzantine plot lines of the TV show, but Larry could never do what Jerry does in standup. Hell, Larry’s too lazy!

You’ve got to have the drive, and the talent.

I knew this special was launching today. But I only watched it this afternoon because of the interview in today’s “Times”:

It reminds me of the one Jerry did with Howard Stern, one of the best ever on the program. Because Jerry was honest and he truly didn’t care what anybody thought about his viewpoint. This is so rare. This is part of why Jerry believes he’s on the spectrum. And if you know people on the spectrum, they find it hard to make friends. They’re loyal to the ones they’ve got, but making new ones…the problem is they say the wrong thing, they don’t know how to navigate personal interactions, when to stay silent, when to lie.

Jerry is learning this in his marriage, he tells us all about this, switching from singledom to a couple. But there’s a good reason for him to hang in there with his wife, because he wants the eggs the relationship delivers, as well as the children. You know Jerry wouldn’t take this from just anybody.

So this explains the coolness I referenced above. You can marvel, but you just can’t penetrate.

So in the “Times” article, Jerry says he doesn’t have OCD, he just loves routine. He can’t be what you label him as. Once again, those on the spectrum love routine, it keeps them centered. But my point is Jerry is not confessing to flaws, that’s part of his identity, that’s part of what keeps him separate.

He talks about needing his kids to explain new online fads like TikTok to him, but once he’s got it, he never returns. That’s how I feel! I want to know about it, but I don’t want to waste time on it.

Everybody’s trying to gain attention online during the stay at home pandemic era, Jerry says no, he thrives on the live vibe.

But what really struck me is Jerry said:

“I’m really just into the pure art of it now. Just the bit, the audience and the moment. I’m more interested in that than ever, and I’m less interested in everything else.”

After all, he’s 65. That’s a point he makes in the special. He’s been there, done that, he’s got no need to see or experience it again.

And sure, Jerry’s got all the money, as David Letterman would say. But the truth is many 65 year old have enough to live comfortably (this is where the politically correct police crack down on me, just like they do on Jerry re autism…of course there are poor people, can we even talk about the upper middle class or is that a completely taboo subject?) But they’re in their sunset years. They paid their dues, they just want to relax. But Jerry is still in search of the zeitgeist. He’s more focused than ever. And watching this special you can see that.

And you should watch this special. I don’t know how many jokes will become part of the vernacular, that you’ll quote to your buddies, but I will say you’ll see yourself more in Jerry’s comedy special than you will in any one I’ve seen in decades. He’s you. You can afford the ticket. You’ve lived long enough to contemplate how you want to spend your time. But you feel so alone.

Watch Jerry Seinfeld and you won’t be.



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