Seinfeld has a new series called ‘Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee’. It’s about these comedians, right? You get the idea. The first two episodes are online now and feature Ricky Gervais and Larry David.
I’m a big fan of comedians and coffee. I’m ambivalent about cars but I was willing to let that one slide and give the series a go. I’m glad I did. So far, each episode has been roughly ten minutes long and has involved a very sleek looking trip to a not-so-sleek looking diner, where some of the best comedic minds basically practise their craft on each other. There is no hokey premise, no laugh track (unless you include maniacal laughter from Seinfeld and co) and no commercials. It’s the comedic equivalent of an espresso shot, which seems rather apt.
The Gervais episode was funny, but most of the humour was derived from Ricky’s white-knuckled fear of being dragged along in a death machine. “Does this thing have air bags?” “Yes, but you have to blow them up yourself.”
The series risks coming off as a bit of a vanity piece, where Seinfeld and friends pat each other on the back and marvel at how brilliant and successful they are. Happily, this is acknowledged throughout the series and all is forgiven as long as they continue to be funny. At one point, Gervais summed up my feelings: “You’re like a young king, aren’t you?”
For me, the real comedy gold came in the Larry David episode. I’m a big fan of both Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, and watching Seinfeld and David chat is remarkably similar to watching an episode of either of these shows. In just a few minutes, they managed to talk about nothing and everything, which is what they have always done so remarkably well. Here are some choice cuts:
“I ordered soup the other day, somebody said, “That’s all you’re going to get?”. (Pause) What do you care?”
“You just made the distance that it was acceptable for me to hold that door.”
(On free range chickens)
“How much do you think the chickens really enjoy that range?”
“Anything you say with a cigar just sounds so much better.” “It imbues you with knowledge.”
“A cigarette isn’t contemplative.”
“A cigar takes time. That’s the key to it. Someone smoking a cigar is in no hurry.”
(When Jerry complains that Larry has a herbal tea instead of coffee)
“What’s the difference?”
“You wanna know the difference? We go to an ice cream shop. I get a cone, you get a salad. That’s the difference. It’s the mood.”
My one criticism so far is that the coffee doesn’t look particularly good. It’s quite airy and bubbly and I expected more. Something like this, perhaps:
At one point, Jerry says something like, “It’s a miracle we got any work done because nobody can waste time like you and me.” Surely that’s the whole point. The thing that makes them great is how fantastic they are at wasting time. The entire show is a waste of time, as is Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm and any other comedy. But if you’re going to waste your time, why not do it with the masters?
As with coffee, I’m left with one lingering thought: I want another one.