On Tuesday, the highly-anticipated Jerry Seinfield hourlong special landed on Netflix. The feature marks his first stand-up special since 1998 and reinforces his reputation as one of the most well-crafted comedians in stand-up history.
The special was filmed at New York’s Beacon Theatre. It’s just Seinfeld and the audience now. There’s no eccentric show-business but rather as Seinfeld describes it “the pure art of it.”
In the first half of the show, Seinfeld divides things up into two categories. He claims that there are only “two ratings”: everything “sucks” or is “great”. Something can be great with sucky parts or suck with great parts, but essentially – everything boils down to one of two categories. In the case of Seinfeld’s special, the rating is that it is a great show with a sucky second half.
The beauty of Seinfeld is that everything annoys him. In fact, everything annoys him so much that he takes pleasure in being annoyed by them. He hates phones and all things modern, bad buffets and disappointing restaurants. He even hates how great the Pop-Tart is simply because no food can ever compete with it. The joy in which he lists the things that annoy him invites the audience to get annoyed with him. It’s catharsis at its simplest, purest form.
What is remarkable is how Seinfeld seems to be able to pluck an endless string of examples. His writing is so well-crafted that as an audience we find ourselves constantly nodding along with what he is saying. We always knew we hated the drizzle restaurants consistently pour on our food but we never really honed in on the fact. The brilliance of Seinfeld is that he does it for us and deep down we love being annoyed about it too.
In the second half, Seinfeld spends a lot of time complaining about his marriage. Not all of the jokes in this segment hit the spot but still, it sucks in a way that is great. If you haven’t watched the special, this won’t make sense but if you’ve watched it, you’ll realize that this doesn’t make sense in such a way that only Seinfield could whittle it down for us.