'Comedians In Cars' Gets Coffee, And Laughs
07/09/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman
Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman

“Seinfeld” is the second or third best scripted show of all-time, according to The Writers Guild of America and Entertainment Weekly. So how do you top that? Not in a sitcom.

“It’s guaranteed, you can’t top it,” Jerry Seinfeld told Howard Stern in a recent interview. “You couldn’t even get close to it.”

Those who missed Seinfeld’s witty observations can get their fill in the web series “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” Even if the show is about nothing (as Seinfeld famously was), it’s clear that Seinfeld, again, has something here. The setup: Seinfeld picks a car that suits the comedian he is going to have coffee with. He picks up the comedian in that car and they schmooze about the mechanics of comedy and whatever is on their minds.

Seinfeld picks up comedian Gad Elmaleh, who is French and Moroccan, in a 1950 Citroen, a French car.

“What if you wanted to bring not a French, but a Moroccan car?" Elmaleh asks.

“I would have brought a camel,” Seinfeld says.

“That was almost racist joke,” says Elmaleh, who is working on being able to perform a set in English.

The pair have coffee at French Roast on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where Elmaleh jokes about the kind of dumb face people make in an elevator and asks why people at baseball games pretend to leave and sit back down when they are disappointed by the players. Seinfeld also comes dressed in a scarf to mock the French fashion style.

In another episode, in Los Angeles, Seinfeld picks up Sarah Silverman in a 1969 Jaguar. Silverman is on fire as she talks about Scientology.

“It’s new to hear people worship a guy named Ron. In our ears [it] feels weird,” Silverman tells Seinfeld. “We know Rons. He had to make his name L. Ron because there was another Ron Hubbard in the Writer’s Guild. That’s how recent of a religion it is and that’s why we feel weirded out by it.”

A quintessential moment occurs when Seinfeld asks for a half and half for his coffee right when Silverman tries to talk about some heavy subject matter. On their way to a doughnut shop, Seinfeld boasts: “I figured out that the non-event is the best part of life.”

While the show will not have you falling out of your chair, it should keep you sitting there, watching it. It’s nice to be a fly on the wall and see what comedians talk about, and you get jealous looking at some seriously cool cars you’ll likely never get the chance to drive.

Are comedians funny in real life when they’re not on stage? In this show, they certainly are, though there is obviously a level of “game-on” because the cameras are there. The episodes are certainly good enough to be on standard television.

The show cleverly shows that comedians are funny in their own habitat talking to each other. The episode with Silverman is the best of the three because she challenges Seinfeld the most and has a vibrant energy.

In the third episode, Seinfeld picks up David Letterman in a souped-up 1995 Volvo that was designed for Paul Newman. Letterman admits that the first time he did standup, he got no laughs. There also appears to be a camel theme on this show, as Letterman recounts that a guest asked him if he “ever had the hump of a camel.” Seinfeld also talks about how as a parent, you shouldn’t overanalyze.

“I kind of look at my family now and I think, well, in 60 years everyone [will be] dead here,” Seinfeld said.

This is actually the second season of the show, but the first season was not well promoted. But be sure to check out two great episodes from last season. The first features Larry David, the co-writer of “Seinfeld” and star and creator of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” David doesn’t even order coffee and he gets grossed out when he eats a bit of a pancake. Their chemistry is beautiful to watch.

The other must-see episode is with Michael Richards, who played “Kramer.” Richards dons a wig and tries to see where Sugar Ray Leonard lives. But there’s a serious point when Richards reflects on the moment he snapped on stage. In 2006, Richards shouted racial slurs at black men who were talking during his set. Seinfeld asks Richards if he’d want to do standup again, and Richards’ answer is surprising.

Upcoming episodes will feature Don Rickles, Chris Rock, and Seth Meyers.

editor@jewishweek.org

Comments

Looks like a great show! My favourite Seinfeld episode inspired me to write this essay: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-2w

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