Jerry Seinfeld: He's on top of the game at 66, here's how the king of comedy is ruling hearts even after 40 years
Think comedy and you immediately think of Jerry Seinfeld. The American comedian has been at the top of his game for more than 40 years and without doubt, has stayed relevant all this time. Before his eponymous NBC sitcom, 'Seinfeld', Seinfeld was known for his appearances on talk shows, but soon after, he became so much more.
Seinfeld, 66, tried out an open-mic first in 1976, after his graduation. In the '80s, he made appearances across different late-night talk shows, including 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' and 'Late Night with David Letterman'. It was in 1987 that Seinfeld did his first comedy special titled 'Stand-Up Confidential' and from there, his life took an unprecedented turn.
In 1988, Seinfeld worked with fellow comedian Larry David to write 'The Seinfeld Chronicles' for NBC. Of course, we now know it as 'Seinfeld'. The now-syndicated show first premiered in 1989 and by its third season, it had become the most-watched sitcom on American television. The show changed quite a bit for American television — the series finale was watched by over 70M viewers — and it influenced what was to come for years.
'Seinfeld', which also launched 'Saturday Night Live' veteran Julia Louis-Dreyfus to the mainstream, ran till 1998. NBC reportedly wanted to renew the show for more seasons and was even willing to pay Seinfeld $5M per episode, but the comedian turned it down saying it was the "perfect moment" to end the sitcom.
After the sitcom ended, Seinfeld returned to New York City to make a comeback with his stand-up comedy. His last stand-up special was 'I'm Telling You for the Last Time', which he performed in 1998.
Since then, Seinfeld has dabbled in other art forms. In 2002, the documentary 'Comedian' focused on Seinfeld and showed the process of developing and performing new material at clubs around the world. The documentary also featured comedian Orny Adams.
Seinfeld returned to the mainstream when he launched a web series called 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' in 2012. In each episode, he would pick up a fellow comedian in a different car and take them out for coffee and conversations. His guests included Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, David Letterman, Tina Fey, and other comedians. His most high-profile guest would have been the then-president Barack Obama.
When Seinfeld signed a comedy deal with Netflix in 2017, all episodes of 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' were made available on the streaming service. Additionally, there was a new 24-episode season added.
Seinfeld's first special in the Netflix deal was 'Jerry Before Seinfeld'. However, this was not a proper stand-up comedy special in the traditional sense. The film followed Seinfeld for a standup routine at the New York City comedy club, Comic Strip Live, which started his career. The Comic Strip was redecorated to reflect its style in the '70s.
Seinfeld's second special as part of the Netflix deal will be released on the streaming service on May 5. Titled '23 Hours to Kill', this will be his first proper stand-up special since 'I'm Telling You for the Last Time'.
What made Seinfeld stand out then and even today is his propensity for observational comedy. Seinfeld takes comedy very seriously — his jokes are structured and there's a place for everything in his performance. His delivery is quite simple for this reason. He explores ordinary everyday situations and finds the funniest aspects of them.
And that's the thing about Seinfeld. 'Seinfeld' has often been called a "show about nothing" — it captured the essence of existentialism, something that is reflected in Seinfeld's comedic style, which is why he is often referred to as one of the greatest comedians of all time.
In fact, Seinfeld's brilliance and his prowess in observational comedy could be summed by one of his statements: "To a guy like me, a laugh is full of information. The timbre of it, the shape of it, the length of it. There’s so much information in a laugh. A lot of times, you could play me just the laughs from my set and I could tell you, from the laugh, what the joke was. Because they match."
'Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill' will be available to stream on Netflix at 12 am PST on May 5.