posted on Feb, 19 2006 @ 02:48 PM
Yup... I know I’m gonna be crucified for this thread, but the truth must be told - Jerry Seinfeld is the most overrated and overvalued comedian in
the history of comedy. Look, folks: anyone whose standup routine opens with the phrase, “What’s the deal with...” is marginal at best, tedious
at worse. That’s just slightly better than those “prop” comedians, such as Carrot Top, who rely on an annoying array of visual gags, or any one
of several hundred black comedians whose entire presentation is nothing more than noting the differences between blacks and whites (“Have you even
noticed that black people do _____ like _____ and white people do _____ like _____?”). Of course, the low-man on the standup totem pole is any
nitwit who brings a musical instrument on stage and sings silly songs in a futile effort to evoke a half-hearted chuckle. I say to these cretins,
“Pack it in, Hendrix. Your career ain’t going nowhere. Take your Mom’s advice and enroll in law school.”
Earlier I used the word marginal, and I think that pretty much sums up Mr. Seinfeld’s comedy. Marginal. He’s not unusually bad or grating, but
he doesn’t really stand out as a premier talent either. He’s just another marginally competent comic with marginally amusing material. And since
the true test of a standup comedian’s talent is the longevity of his material, does anyone honestly believe that Jerry’s observational humor about
folding socks or Halloween costumes will successfully withhold the test of time? All the truly great comedians captured immortality on the stage -
George Carlin with his “Seven Dirty Words” routine, Lenny Bruce for his rants against censorship, and Sam Kinison for his angry tirades about
Christianity. What has Jerry Seinfeld ever said or done that’s even moderately compelling or creative? “What’s the deal with airline
peanuts?” C’mon, guys... this ain’t the stuff of legends. This is the pedestrian drivel of a second-rate talent.
Of course, there was that television show. By starring in what’s arguably the finest sitcom ever created, Jerry Seinfeld has earned a vault’s
worth of wealth and undying fame and adulation. Hey, Seinfeld was a great show. It recreated the genre and killed the touchy-feely sugarcoated
family sitcoms that dominated the TV dial at the time. And some of its episodes, such as “The Contest,” were as wickedly funny as anything ever
produced by a television studio. But capturing lightning in a bottle and reaping in big numbers with the Nielsen’s doesn’t necessarily mean that
the star is a great standup comedian.
Cheers was a great show and the character of Norm Peterson, played by George Wendt, was originally part of a comedy troupe. Home Improvement was a
great show and was created by Tim Allen, who was discovered by ABC while touring the country as a comedian. But neither Allen nor Wendt are
particularly gifted standup comics. Like Jerry Seinfeld, they’re marginal talents who were fortunate enough to latch onto a terrific television
idea and live forever in syndication. Friends is a superbly funny program, but that doesn’t mean that David Schwimmer could routinely bust out the
guffaws as a standup comedian. Conversely, truly great comedians such as George Carlin, Jackie Mason, and Sam Kinison have all had sitcoms that
failed in less than one season.
To be perfectly candid, I’m not sure how much credit Jerry should receive for the success of Seinfeld. The show’s co-creator, Larry David, has
proven to be an unusually clever television talent with his ingenious HBO sitcom, The Larry David Show. I don’t know if the creation of Seinfeld
was more Larry or more Jerry, or how the executive decisions were rendered. I do know that Larry David is credited with being the head writer of some
of Seinfeld’s most memorable episodes and that the quality dipped when he left the show before its eighth season. I also know that Larry David
isn’t an outstanding talent on stage either; I’ve seen his standup routine as well.
If Jerry Seinfeld were an NFL football player, he’d be good enough to start... but certainly not a marquee star. He’s an effective workman who
clearly loves the standup medium, even though he’s never been the breakthrough performer that generates much of a buzz. Is he funny? Perhaps the
title of this thread was unduly harsh... he can be funny at times, but his skill at etching giggles doesn’t match the public respect he receives for
doing so. And he certainly doesn’t deserve a seat atop comedy’s Mount Olympus. In today’s society, there’s a push to overly hype the
importance of individuals and incidences in an effort to make our mundane existence seem less ordinary. Case in point is Major League Baseball
declaring Cal Ripken’s continual game streak the greatest moment in baseball history. Now, was Ripken avoiding injury and showing up for work
really more dramatic than the called shot of Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron setting the new home run record? No... but Ripken’s streak was more recent.
Was the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. really the tragedy the media claimed it to be? Nope - true tragedies carry long-lasting legacies and
repercussions. Slavery was a tragedy. The Holocaust was a tragedy. JFK Jr. was a rich dude who flew into the ocean. About three years have passed
since his death and not much has changed. By this token, is Jerry Seinfeld a great comedian? Nah. Is he funny on stage? Sometimes, but not often.
Jerry Seinfeld is what he is - a marginal talent who spent years on the road, perfecting his craft, rising to the upper level of mediocrity,
ultimately striking TV gold.
But that’s nothing to be ashamed of. After all, in the Land of the Mediocre, the marginal man is king.
[edit on 2/19/2006 by Dr Isaac Yankem DDS]