In 1990 we were still ten years away from Y2K, the radio played songs by Phil Collins, Bell Biv Devoe and the New Kids on the Block, and a new TV show took to airwaves (Yes, a lot of people still used antennas back then and didn’t have cable). Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, the show, Seinfeld, was a massive hit.
Each week the nation turned in to watch them create the catch phrases for a generation. Who hasn’t said, “No soup for you!”? It was a brilliant crafted thirty minutes of multiple story lines that all seemed to tie together in the last few minutes. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer (Cosmo), became the most interesting foursome since the Beatles. We cheered for them and laughed at their failures, because it didn’t matter if they won or lost, it was always funny.
Some shows never quite got it that it needs to be a balance. I never liked The Honeymooners, because Ralph always lost and then there would be a moral at the ending, something like, “You suck, but at least you have a crappy job driving a bus and your wife doesn’t leave you.” It got tiresome for there never to be any hope of triumph.
Married with Children, rebooted the show and was wise enough to let Al occasionally win, which made it more fun because there was suspense. Seinfeld took it one step further, spreading the triumphs and tragedies among the main characters and even the supporting cast (Newman).
When the final episode aired, we all felt satisfied, but a little sad. It had run its course and there just weren’t any more shows they could do about nothing, but if they had, we would have still been tuning in, because we loved them. We loved to listen in as they sat in their favorite diner and tried to unravel the mundane mysteries of life.
If you are like me…middle aged, balding, generally bitter, and prone to watching more TV than is healthy…and I hope you aren’t, then you’ll be thrilled to learn that Jerry Seinfeld has a new TV show, except that he doesn’t.
He has a new show, but it can’t be found on your television, you’ll need the internet for this one. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, is both aptly named, and eerily similar to the original. Unscripted, Jerry picks up some of his buddies in the art of jocularity, and they go for…wait for it…coffee. Along the way, cameras mounted in the vehicle capture the ride to the diner (which changes each episode), and then a camera crew and soundman capture their meal and java(is soup a meal?).
Just like the original show, we just want to watch them hang out and talk, because frankly people like Jerry Seinfeld, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, and Alec Baldwin, are more interesting than us or anyone we know (except Rad Alger). The only difference, and I think it is an improvement, is that Jerry lets himself laugh at the jokes. He isn’t the straight man all the time. In fact, I think seeing these icons of humor enjoying each other’s comments, makes it especially fun to watch.
The episodes run between eight and seventeen minutes.
Episodes in no particular order:
1) Michael Richards (Kramer from Seinfeld): This is a fantastic episode ( 34 on a scale of 1 to 37). Mr. Richards is funny, as one would expect, but he is also contrite. There is a wonderful moment at the end where he talks about his transgression from a few years back and how badly he felt. I was a fan of the comedian, but had sort of changed my opinion to indifferent, and now, I think I like him even more than I did before. People make mistakes and the ones who admit it and say they are sorry, should be forgiven…well, not Lindsay Lohan, she is a nut job.
2) Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks: (36)…easily. I don’t just give out 37’s without there being super models involved. I would try to give insights into their brilliance, but their genius is far beyond my grasp to understand how they do it. Few would argue that Jerry Seinfeld is one of the great comedians of this generation, but to watch him sit at the feet of the gods, was, to make an uncompensated reference to Mastercard…priceless.
3) Colin Quinn and Mario Joyner: (33) Who? You’ll recognize them when you see it. These guys are funnier than a one legged cat juggler with gout. I mean seriously, who doesn’t love that?
4) Barry Marder: (33) Jerry picks his friend up in a classic 1966 356 Porche, Dutch police car.
5) Bob Einstein: (31) A solid performance and on the cusp of genius…like he hasn’t heard that joke before. All things being relevant, this was not as good as some of the top shows, but vastly better than 99% of the dreck you can find being pumped out by the networks.
6) Joel Hodgson: (32) Known for creating the fantastic Mystery Science Theater 3000, is a very funny man.
7) Alec Baldwin: (34) Damn, he is funny. He’s a good story teller and does impressions. I was completely caught off guard by this one, I expected much less. Mr. Baldwin has had his fair share of public meltdown moments and it has colored my opinion of him. Now, he seems less jerky.
8) Brian Regan: (33) If you can’t like a guy who says, “A monkey and a lava lamp”, then there is little hope for you. Monkey is always a funny word, right up there with most form of cheese, including but not limited to, a finely aged gouda. Brian Regan is monkey eating gouda funny, which begs the question, Why did he only score a 33 on the 1 to 37 scale? If you want answers, you’ll need to talk to the Heisman voters.
9) Ricky Gervais: (35) Sometimes genuine terror is funny, this was one of those times. He also scores well for being hilarious. (Note: he did receive the internationally recognized one point bonus for the British accent.)
10) Larry David: (30) He is very funny, too, but won’t eat more than one piece of pizza. This cost him three points in my book. This episode was cool in one regard, they have known each other for decades and I couldn’t help but wonder how many hours of great film was never taken.
There you have it, a guide to Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It’s like Seinfeld, but a little bit better. There are also other clips called “spare parts”. You’ll like them too…unless you suck.
Once you’ve enjoyed all the episodes (this wasn’t a suggestion), please come back and let me know who you’d like to see get in a car with Jerry and then be taken to a place to enjoy java. I’d love to see Ellen DeGeneres, Eddie Izzard, and Jason Alexander (George).
Also, who saw the Bell Biv Devoe reference coming?