“Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill” puts him in a black suit and tie, but opens with him diving out of a helicopter to get to the (Beacon Theater) show.
So yeah, it was supposed to coincide with the opening of a new James Bond film, “No Time to Die.” But COVID19 shut that down.
And yeah, not leaving out his famous “going out/gotta get BACK” bit about the audience, hailing the audience’s “degrees of difficulty” in going out, getting the tickets and coming to the show seems…unfortunate.
But the most successful stand-up comedian of all time didn’t get where he is by sweating out a re-edit. As he tucks into his and his audiences’ many-years-long relationship, “going through life together” with fans knowing EVERYTHING there is to know about him, his riches, his family, his cars and his life, he hurls the only rhetorical question that matters.
“I could be anywhere in the WORLD right now,” he says, voice-cracking. “If you were me, would you BE up here hacking out another one of these things?”
He was 65 when he taped this and just turned 66 at the end of April. Expecting him to let a global pandemic ding his “Didya ever notice?” mastery is laughable.
As indeed is the special. Maybe later there’ll be a future one talking about COVID19, if it’s ever funny. For now, Seinfeld is talking about the familiar. As dated as some of this feels, thanks to a changing world, the nostalgia value of an “OK, Boomer” comic isn’t to be under-estimated.
Marriage? Got a “girlfriend? That’s whiffle ball! Married guys play with full clips and LIVE rounds!”
Bits about “the tone of my voice” arguments at home feeling like he’s been drafted into high school glee club, about family vacations, “Or as I like to call them, ‘Let’s pay a LOTTA money to go fight in a hotel!”
Buffets? “Why don’t we put people that are already struggling with portion control into some kind of debauched ‘Caligula’ food orgy of unlimited human consumption!”
He’s out-of-date and out of step in a social media and now socially-distanced age — “I feel like a BLACKsmith up here, to tell the truth. Why don’t I just text you the whole thing, save us all an hour?”
But that’s kind of the point. It’s been impossible to watch him the same way after he did that documentary “Comedian” years and years ago. We know how much craftsmanship went into building this act, the clubs he tried out new material in, the road warrior that he remains, polishing those bits, dealing with interruptions like the elder stand-up statesman he is.
“LOVE you, Jerry!” from a fan in the audience elicits an “And I love you! That”s my ideal type of intimate relationship. I love you. You love me. And we never meet.”
He knows he’ll get a laugh when he screeches, and does a lot more “your annoying friends” voices than we’ve heard in the past. He lies down on stage, launches into bits about the “only two types of reviews” there are for ANY experience, these days — “It’s GREAT. Or it SUCKS.” And the difference? There is none. Everybody’s life sucks.
“My life sucks, too. Perhaps not QUITE as much.”
I could see how this material could rub the housebound, especially traumatized New Yorkers, the wrong way. But he has a lot of license with that audience.
When he’s calling out the disconnected but cell-addicted and their “friends,” he’s as on-target as he’s ever been. Oh yeah, you’re “close” to every single one of them. He’s seen you “scroll the names on your contact list like a gay French king,” dismissing all these “favorites.”
Hopefully, our current sorry state as a civilization will have the luxury of getting back to laughing at these trivialities anew. And if not, we’ll always have these old Seinfeld-at-home-on-the-stage movies –on Netflix — to remember how it was back when selfie-seeking friends who turn “picture bullies” at every social gathering were all we had to worry about, back when “dinner and a show” were totally a thing.
MPAA Rating: unrated, a little profanity
Cast: Jerry Seinfeld.
Credits: Directed by Joe DeMaio. A Netflix release.
Running time: :58