What impressed me the most about Jerry Seinfeld’s standup comedy performance, which we recently attended at Los Angeles’ massive and venerable Pantages Theater, was how limber the man was.
Now, were I writing for a Yoga magazine, this would be high praise indeed. But I’m not. Which conjures the question, if I’m chronicling the highlights of a show headlined by a consummately skillful comedian, a “professional’s professional”, a man who also starred in my favorite situation comedy of all time, shouldn’t what impressed me the most about Jerry Seinfeld’s standup comedy performance at Los Angeles’ massive and venerable Pantages Theater be the comedy?
I think so.
It was his inordinate flexibility. Jerry Seinfeld is, as he announced onstage, fifty-seven years old. Hardly a young man. A man, in fact, three years shy of sixty. And yet, in the course of underlining certain moments in his act, he stretched, he squatted, he loped across the stage...
At one point, he lay down on the floor, and he got up again. Just straight got up. No rapid breathing, no labored “Oy!” In fact, listening to him continuing on without missing a beat, unless you had seen it with your own eyes, you would never have known he had just lain down on the floor and gotten up again. I’m tellin’ ya –
That guy is in shape!
Was he funny? Sure. As he also announced onstage, Jerry Seinfeld has been performing standup comedy for thirty-one years. (Or maybe longer. He may have said he first performed in L.A. thirty-one years ago.) You get good at it after thirty-plus years. You know what you’re doing up there.
No stumbles. No extraneous verbiage. Every set-up, crystal clear, every “build”, structured to maximum effect, every punchline, timed to perfection, the entire presentation, like an Olympic, acrobat executing complicated maneuvers on the balance beam, or uneven bars…
No question about it. The man is “top-of-the-line” at what he does.
And yet, what I remember the most was the limberness. Which sent a thought bordering on an insight worming its way into my insight place, the thought being this:
Jerry Seinfeld stretched in every way but with his material.
I don’t text, as I do not own a texting device. But if I did, and I were acronyming my impression of Jerry Seinfeld onstage?
“Same Old Thing.” Did I make that up? I wouldn’t know. Nobody texts me for the same reason. I do not own a texting device. They’d have to text right into my head.
From a content standpoint, Jerry’s repertoire was “business as usual.” Cell phone jokes. Starbucks jokes. Wife jokes, which one person in our party found unfunny, and another found accurate but, come on…
Bottled water jokes. People continually getting “re-hydrated.” And then, get this!
Shortly thereafter, Jerry walks over to a stool, holding a bottle of water and a plastic cup, and he…
“Yoo-hoo! Mr. Funny Man! May we have some self-awareness, please?”
There was none to be had. No connection. It’s as if Jerry’s life and his act are two different planets. “In my life, I rehydrate myself.” “In my act, I make fun of those people.”
You are those people.
Apparently, he did not notice that. And Jerry Seinfeld is a real “Did you ever notice” kind of a guy!
In contrast, Larry David offers, in his public persona, a human being – a monstrously flawed one – but if you prick him, he will bleed. He’ll bleed venom, but he’ll bleed.
Jerry Seinfeld offers…a hologram. There’s a suit up there, it’s moving around, but are we getting a multi-dimensional human being, or Jerry Seinfeld, “trick or treating”, dressed as Jerry Seinfeld?
Jerry mentions three children, but not their names, or individualized genders or personalities. He alludes to a wife, but his jokes project a universal “generic wife”, not the specific woman he married.
The result is a feeling of coldness. “Packaged Jerry”, revealing a fraction of who he actually is.
But not in his act.
Earl’s Standard Disclaimer:
An artist should be judged by their own intentions, not by what I’d like their intentions to be.
Jerry Seinfeld presents himself in the way he chooses to present himself, as is extremely skilled at doing so.
But, for me, the only feeling he elicited was the feeling that I would benefit greatly if I went back to yoga.
She's in her prime
She's just sublime
She's my "Sunshine."
Happy birthday, Anna Benne.
You're just the best
You ace the test
I'm so impressed
And truly blessed.