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January 09, 2018

COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE

Comedians-in-cars-getting-coffeeConan O’Brien isn’t funny because he isn’t a comedian; he’s a talk show host. Chris Rock’s pithy explanation of the problem with Conan O’Brien’s lame attempts at being funny is just one tiny example of the granular level of Jerry Seinfeld’s popular, and deceptively informative, web series. Currently streaming on Netflix, the eminently bingeable “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” goes down like a root beer float with a surprise at the bottom of every glass.

If ever there was a crash course in what it takes to be a comedian, from a to z, this is it. Why isn’t Judd Apatow funny as a stand-up comedian? Clearly, it’s because he hasn’t paid his dues of honing his “material” on stage for the years that it takes to get good at it.

Jerry Seinfeld

Comedians or actors? Easy. Comedians portray themselves, whereas actors desperately want to inhabit anyone but themselves. Thus, comedians can act, but actors can’t become comedians. Mind blown.

Why is Barak Obama a terrible person? Because he’s a blow-hard bully. Obama’s transparent attempts to big-dog Jerry Seinfeld backfire noticeably during the episode where Seinfeld visits the President at the White House. Obama chides Seinfeld for leaving a once-bitten apple on a table in the Oval Office before trying way too hard to seem cool by draping his limp hand over the steering wheel of the 1963 Corvette that Seinfeld has brought for the occasion. The kicker comes when Obama insists on plugging Obamacare only to have Seinfeld emphasize the faux pas with a withering direct-to-camera pitch that slays. There’s also the fact of Seinfeld’s monetary success eclipsing Obama’s in rough comparison of Jupiter to the Earth’s moon.  

Julia-louis-dreyfus

You get to judge for yourself which comedians Jerry gets along with better than others. Seinfeld’s chemistry is much stronger with comedians such as Jimmy Fallon, and Chris Rock than it is with David Letterman, Howard Stern, or Ali Wentworth, three distinctly uncomfortable human beings whose unpleasantness may make you want to reach for an Alka Seltzer.

Jerry chooses a car he thinks best aligns with the personality of the comedian with whom he’ll imbibe coffee while chatting. For example, a 1965 SAAB MONTE CARLO 850 in olive green is the car of choice to go for a drive around Portland, Oregon with Fred Armisen. An onscreen clock (the WAIT-O-METER) registers the seven minutes it takes for Hipster Service at a local roastery to hand over two cups of “delicious” coffee for our comedian pals to chew over the definition of art.  

Garry Shandling

You can tell a lot about Jerry’s guest by the car he chooses. The 1976 Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon Jerry picks out for his coffee-attended chat with Sarah Jessica Parker signals that this might be an episode to skip. Episodes you don’t want to miss include: Michael Richards, Alec Baldwin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Hart, Trevor Noah, Garry Shandling, and Lorne Michaels.  

In its open-faced simplicity “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” holds a charm and candidness about the comedic process unavailable in any other setting. Five stars isn’t a high enough grade for this brilliant series where even the episodes with the worst guests show you something valuable about what makes the true greats (Don Rickles, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Robert Klein) all the more memorable. 

58 (12  to 20 minute) episodes.  (Five stars — out of five / no halves)


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PATREON BUTTON

Groupthink doesn't live here.

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