Some comedians don’t want to watch other comedians perform, for fear that it might influence what they say onstage themselves or even how they say it. I can be the same way with reading other reviews of a comedian, TV show or movie that I’m reviewing.
Which is how I realize only after the fact that every other critic I’ve read on Jerry Seinfeld this week has gone to great lengths to mention or focus on his Jewishness, while I somehow didn’t mention it all. Is it because I’m a gentile? Does it have something to do the high holy Jewish days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?
By the same token, though, I’m also the only critic I’ve read thus far to note how Seinfeld has disregarded the central premise of his previous comedy special, 1998’s HBO hour, I’m Telling You For the Last Time, by going back to tell some of these jokes one more time for his first Netflix hour, Jerry Before Seinfeld.
Seinfeld doesn’t have a new hour of material for us now. What he does have, and what he can bring to the table that makes his special truly special, is the notion that his millions of fans might learn something intimate about him. For all of the jokes, and all of the episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which Seinfeld brings with him from Crackle to Netflix as part of this deal, we’ve never really known too much about the man behind the material. The jokes have remained surface-level. Despite expanding and perfecting David Brenner’s “Did you ever notice?” into his own “What’s the deal with?”, he’s never really been interested in sharing with us what the deal is with him, personally.