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Why Jerry Seinfeld Doesn't Buy the 'Burden of Celebrity'
May 24, 2014 1:06 AM   Subscribe

Jerry Seinfeld talks celebrity stand-up, his full head of hair, the new season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and why our dads wouldn't have considered turning down a job.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (50 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know, the archetypical 'your dad' (which for Jerry Seinfeld would probably be just before the baby boomers) wouldn't last two seconds in today's world. No college degree? Enjoy not making enough money to live on yourself, to say nothing of ever being able to afford kids. Hard work alone isn't enough to succeed these days, it just gets you exploited and used up and kicked out the bottom of the labor market. Kids today have to think different.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:36 AM on May 24 [52 favorites]


JS: Blah blah blahblah bla BLAH blah blahblah blah.
posted by Corduroy at 1:56 AM on May 24 [11 favorites]


JS [mindreading a stranger at another table]: And she's looking across the table thinking, I'm this close. All I got to do is get this guy to act right. ... The wedding gown, the celebration, the aggrandizement of the woman in this amazing outfit at the wedding—she's telling the world "I got one of these motherfuckers to act right."

Seriously? This is his concept of marriage? Yeah, Jerry, women don't fall in love and make public legal commitments to their partners because they want to spend the rest of their lives with that one person -- it's because they want to show the world that they manipulated a man.
posted by tractorfeed at 2:24 AM on May 24 [15 favorites]


wow, they sure took that "turning down a job" line out of context for clicks, ugh.

i fully expected some rant about millennials, and instead it's just "how could anyone turn down hosting the letterman show?".

the entire thing actually almost reads like a more casual JS standup routine, but with a teleprompter. He says a few interesting things, a few eye roll inducing things, a few wincy things...

but the main thing is that he never actually like elaborates on anything. it's all "so what's the deal with airline food?" soundbytes.

it's just... a really low content piece. i don't even really know what else to say about it.
posted by emptythought at 2:42 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


It's occurred to me that CICGC is what the pod people do after they've pointed at you on a DC street and screeched. They point at you and screech, then make you ride around in a Porsche 356 with patina and talk about the nature of celebrity while having expensive coffee somewhere with the newest Acura parked right out by the door for your educational benefit.

That's my theory, at least.
posted by sonascope at 4:03 AM on May 24 [6 favorites]


JS: Blah blah blahblah bla BLAH blah blahblah blah.

Wouldn't that be:

JS: Yadda yadda yaddayadda yad YADDA yadda yaddayadda yadda.
posted by fairmettle at 4:04 AM on May 24 [13 favorites]


He is, however, right about the modern, post-pod approach to man hair, which is way less prone to causing world wars, broken marriages, and Porsche 356 ownership than in days past.
posted by sonascope at 4:05 AM on May 24


JS: What was lost, Scott? Tell me what was lost.

SR: I'm not sure.

JS: What did we lose that they had? As men. We're in Esquire, right? This is Esquire.

SR: I think they had a firm sense of purpose and duty beyond themselves.


Come on. This part of his talk is like hearing someone wish Newtonian physics had never been superseded.
posted by ignignokt at 4:26 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I think the burden of celebrity for him might be a "bit" different to that which, say, Justin Bieber or Britney Spears must tolerate.

"Youthful pop singer currently going through massive life changes with 24/7 surveillance" and "comedian who bought an aircraft hanger full of Porsches by making tedious jokes twenty years ago" are not really peas in a pod. The effects of celebrity are clearly not negative to him whereas they tend to act as an accelerant to self-immolation in the case of others.
posted by longbaugh at 4:27 AM on May 24 [7 favorites]


SR: You ever think about just buying the Mets?

JS: Never even for a second. It would be an endless series of headaches morning till night.


Yeah, me neither
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:31 AM on May 24 [8 favorites]


SR: You ever think about just buying the Mets?

JS: Never even for a second. It would be an endless series of headaches morning till night.


Immediate thought to that bit was wondering if Jerry could be the eccentric billionaire who could help out MetaFilter a bit.
posted by Wordshore at 4:37 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Hard work alone isn't enough to succeed these days, it just gets you exploited and used up and kicked out the bottom of the labor market. Kids today have to think different.

Don't worry - tomorrow’s dad's won't have to worry about that.

With the rise of the robot in labor markets, soon jobs like burger flipper (momentum machines) and self-driving cars+humanoid robots means the bottom of the labor market will just not be there.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:38 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Seinfeld did have some interesting things to say. I was especially taken with his calculating view of the value-proposition of a comedy performance. I also thought that his observation that owning a baseball team is not actually better than having a hot dog and a beer at the ball park and getting to enjoy the game was insightful.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:50 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


the bottom of the labor market will just not be there.

The bottom will always be with us. It might not be the same jobs being paid an unliveably small wage but there will be something there and they'll get done by people with no option, as they are now.
posted by biffa at 4:56 AM on May 24


I thought it was a fine interview, although the part about Seinfeld's hair was odd. The guy is balding. He obviously doesn't seem too concerned about it, but talking about his great head of hair was odd.

The bottom will always be with us.


I'm not sure. More and more, I get the feeling that within my lifetime the employment situation in the US will just collapse, that ALL of the real jobs will go away and everybody will be doing the 2050 equivalent of Task Rabbit and Mechanical Turk just to scrape together enough cash to make it through another week. And that'll just be how life is, everybody will be broke all the time, except for the tiny, tiny handful of people who are really, really not broke.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:38 AM on May 24 [5 favorites]


Oh, the places you'll go!
posted by Pudhoho at 6:21 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


You know, the archetypical 'your dad' (which for Jerry Seinfeld would probably be just before the baby boomers) wouldn't last two seconds in today's world.

But that doesn't stop the "your dad" types from blaming their mess on you.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 6:22 AM on May 24 [12 favorites]


The bit paraphrasing David Byrne was interesting. I liked most of his thoughts on subjects that weren't about gender roles.
posted by painquale at 6:27 AM on May 24


I also thought that his observation that owning a baseball team is not actually better than having a hot dog and a beer at the ball park and getting to enjoy the game was insightful.

I don't know if it is insightful so much as normal. Seinfeld gets a lot of mileage out of saying things that we would say. And we get a little lift from seeing an extremely rich guy enjoying things that we enjoy. Common sense. Who needs to be filthy rich? The King is normal. Long live the King.

Maybe he should buy the Clippers.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:41 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if it is a generational thing or just him as an individual, but his comments on gender make me wince. I'm sure he speaks for a lot of people and they find him insightful and meaningful, but I'm not feeling that magic.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:47 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


He missed a chance to say "You gotta see the baby".
posted by arcticseal at 6:53 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I am a fan of Seinfeld but I find Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to be a snoozefest. At least Jerry seems to be having fun making it. And the production sucks, I hate how they have all these cutaways of coffee being poured, and it's not actually from the place they ordered the coffee, its just some random stock coffee footage. Probably doesn't help that I don't give a shit about cars either.
posted by Joe Chip at 7:35 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure if it is a generational thing or just him as an individual, but his comments on gender make me wince.

Seinfeld had a bit in his stand-up routine decades ago, about laundry detergent ads and bloodstains on clothing (oh, here it is used in his show, at about the 1-minute mark). I remember thinking, this man will never marry...

But, yeah, he's always been weird about gender, women are like aliens to him. Still, it is nice that he recognizes his own good fortune and fame, and endeavors to be gracious about it. The conversation he relates with Chris Rock and the Late Show is him acknowledging the great position of privilege he occupies, and how different his father's life and opportunities were. That's no small thing.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:54 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I have this sense that Jerry Seinfeld would be gracious and generous in person, but boy does he come off as an asshole in print.
posted by maryr at 8:10 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Oh hey I always got the impression Jerry Seinfield was a tedious bore and now I have proof
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 AM on May 24


Anyway that's a lot of gall coming from someone whose been unemployed for decades.
posted by The Whelk at 8:13 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed it. Thanks for posting.
posted by harrietthespy at 8:59 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Oh hey I always got the impression Jerry Seinfield was a tedious bore and now I have proof

You never watched Seinfeld either?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:13 AM on May 24 [2 favorites]


My impression of Seinfeld as a person was more or less permanently set when I saw him on SNL, standing next to David Bowie. I think Bowie mentioned bringing his (black) wife to the next episode (which was the show's anniversary special, if I remember right) and Seinfeld made a weird, sour comment about the idea of an interracial couple in Britain. Bowie looked at Jerry like he was a time-traveling caveman who just popped on-set next to him. Definitely not a modern thinker, that one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:42 AM on May 24 [3 favorites]


If your reaction to Jerry Seinfeld in this context is less than adoration, you might really really really enjoy the 2011 special Talking Funny which is basically a sit down group interview between JS, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais. It goes about as you'd expect: JS and Rock clearly represent a former generation while Gervais and Louis represent a newer one. One of the biggest differences is how they regard the audience. JS makes it clear that he couldn't give less of a shit about recycling his jokes and just pumping the oil well of his stardom. He barely sounds like he even enjoys his job. Louis reminds everyone that while he was paying crack whores for sex Jerry was "driving Porches around Long Island" and that perhaps their work ethics are informed by their backgrounds. It's precious to see JS put on his fake grin sometimes. I absolutely can't stand his face, his voice, or anything about him but I loved that special. Gervais and Rock got in some fun barbs too.
posted by trackofalljades at 10:12 AM on May 24 [7 favorites]


Coincidentally, if you saw the 2002 documentary The Comedian and are thinking, but wait, are you saying that years later Jerry contradicts most of the "advice" he gave the younger comic and makes it seem like all his comeback humility was performative and part of a branded image...yes. Yes he does. The man is a franchise of himself.
posted by trackofalljades at 10:35 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


Why didn't the Esquire interviewer ask him if he was prouder that the cops let him get away with speeding or that they let him get away with driving while intoxicated?

That might have been an interesting question but all of these were softballs and whiffleballs.
posted by bukvich at 11:05 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


First thing:
SR: I think they had a firm sense of purpose and duty beyond themselves.
Speak for one's own dad. I really highly doubt there was a whole generation of good dads who made hard choices for their family that we just will never see the likes of again.

Second:
JS: I was talking to Chris Rock the other day about taking the Letterman job. I was trying to convince him to take it. He says, "Absolutely no possible way." Both of us are out when you hear "makeup everyday." You hear that and I'm out. But I said to him, "What would your father do? Would your father turn down a job like that?" I go, "What kind of father are you? What kind of man are you?" He has other ways to make money, so it's not really a fair question. But that was funny to me. To think of his father getting an opportunity like that and going, "You know what? I don't think so. Sounds inconvenient."
I'm confused because this was a whole story arc on Louie - Letterman, Chris Rock, Seinfeld, taking a hard job to provide for your kids, are you saying this happened in real life? Was Seinfeld really up for the job? I'm confused.
posted by bleep at 11:06 AM on May 24


Yuck, just be quiet Seinfeld.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:09 AM on May 24


If your reaction to Jerry Seinfeld in this context is less than adoration, you might really really really enjoy the 2011 special Talking Funny which is basically a sit down group interview between JS, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais.

To be honest, I'd rather have a root canal. That's three of the most unlikeable comedians. And Chris Rock.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:45 AM on May 24


All this talk and no one has mentioned The Marriage Ref, which was a real thing that was actually on a major network. I feel like we should mention The Marriage Ref every time Seinfield's name comes up.
posted by The Whelk at 12:21 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


I love Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, despite its flaws. Listening to comedians talk about their work and watching them carefully dance around what to say is great fun. Seeing Brian Regan and Seinfeld just enjoy themselves saying stupid, funny things is an enormous pleasure. Sure, sometimes bored, fatalistic, billionaire Seinfeld comes out, but that's just part of the adventure. He's a flawed human being, not a party favor. Ok, I guess he is a party favor, as are all celebrities, but I still love this stuff.
posted by mecran01 at 12:25 PM on May 24 [3 favorites]


ignignokt: Come on. This part of his talk is like hearing someone wish Newtonian physics had never been superseded.

ob1quixote: Seinfeld did have some interesting things to say. I was especially taken with his calculating view of the value-proposition of a comedy performance. I also thought that his observation that owning a baseball team is not actually better than having a hot dog and a beer at the ball park and getting to enjoy the game was insightful.

You know, after letting this one marinate a bit more... i realized it follows the same formula as a lot of "interviews with smart rich guy successful in one field".

Anything he has to say about the field that made him rich is borderline brilliant, and extremely interesting to read.

Everything else is borderline "things were better in the 1950s when men were men and women knew their place" kind of 50-years-out-of-date garbage the worst dads fart out.

I mean it's one thing to hear it from tech industry dudes who probably wore fedoras at one point, but i feel like people forget that a lot of really focused successful guys sound like this when they talk about more general societal stuff and their opinions therein.

The exceptions are actually generally thoughtful guys(and i guess, also guys whose selling point isn't that they're sarcastic assholes), and those who were/are smart enough to go "Hmm, i don't really know enough to have a real opinion on this, i'll hire someone who knows what the hell they're talking about" like Bill Gates with social welfare issues and stuff.
posted by emptythought at 12:47 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


Immediate thought to that bit was wondering if Jerry could be the eccentric billionaire who could help out MetaFilter a bit.

Probably not after this thread. Similarly, I doubt we can count on much help from Tom Cruise, Scott Adams, Gallagher, Julian Assange, Michael Bay, Amanda F. Palmer, Malcolm Gladwell, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the former pope Benedict, Nickelback, the concept of hipsterism, Dane Cook, at least 5/9ths of the Supreme Court, Dennis Miller, George Lucas, any professional journalists whatsoever, the Koch brothers, Rob Ford, Uwe Boll, the Walton family, Mel Gibson, or the ghost of Steve Jobs.1

On the other hand, Roger Ebert, Mister Rogers, the Muppets, Bill Watterston, Oolong, anything made out of legos, and Carl Sagan are all either dead, retired, imaginary or inanimate.2

Who does that leave? Woz, it pretty much leaves Woz.

Or maybe Weird Al.

1. Possibly not all actual billionaires.
2. Yes, they all are.

posted by hap_hazard at 12:49 PM on May 24 [14 favorites]


Yuck, just be quiet Seinfeld.

If only there was some way to not click on a link about Seinfeld.
posted by spaltavian at 12:57 PM on May 24 [12 favorites]


everybody will be doing the 2050 equivalent of Task Rabbit and Mechanical Turk just to scrape together enough cash to make it through another week. And that'll just be how life is, everybody will be broke all the time, except for the tiny, tiny handful of people who are really, really not broke.

Don't forget the part where everyone will still have to have a college degree and three-years experience to qualify for the crap jobs.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:13 PM on May 24 [7 favorites]


I like Jerry Seinfeld. Still, it's amusing to think of him doing a Comedians in Cars segment with Bill Hicks.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:33 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]


You know, the archetypical 'your dad' (which for Jerry Seinfeld would probably be just before the baby boomers) wouldn't last two seconds in today's world. No college degree? Enjoy not making enough money to live on yourself, to say nothing of ever being able to afford kids.

My father told me that businesses came to his high school and offered people careers, right then and there. He spent 24 years moving up from bank teller to manager, to auditor, to business loans officer or something like that.

They used to send him to different branches to clean up the mess the managers right out of university made because they had all the theory and none of the experience.

Then an initiative from on high was made to cut staff and reduce decision making to variables in programs and they let him go, strategically 1 year before 25 years, which would have obligated the bank to pay a further potential $100 000 in pension payments when he officially retired from work. Funnily enough, the guy who made the cuts initiative was also himself cut, and not funnily enough, the same bank at one time cut 34 tellers whose combine salary for a year just happened to equal the additional bonus they gave a higher up...

He languished for 8 months before finding a small credit union that didn't have an auditor or indeed, any auditing in place whatsoever. They discovered some embezzlement not surprisingly, but usually just dismissed the embezzlers rather than press charges (those that insisted they had not done a thing despite the clear evidence fought back and ended up behind bars).

20 or so years on he retired. But now he's working for the same organization again because the audit program went to hell after they hired some CAs.

I suspect the problem with hiring managers and CAs and whatever right out of university or college is not the students themselves, but that organizations/businesses, don't give a toss about training new staff and so leave them in the lurch. That, coupled with what seems to be a cap on upward mobility (i.e. my Father moving up through various positions, increasing his salary, responsibility, and knowledge) could well doom so many of us.

People used to be given the opportunity to learn and move up. I'm sure some still do, but it doesn't seem to be a model in fashion.

Also, I enjoyed the show Seinfeld. Very good for an American sitcom, which are usually all sorts of shit. Haven't found his post Seinfeld material particularly engaging.
posted by juiceCake at 2:13 PM on May 24 [4 favorites]


I thought Comedians getting Coffee in Cars... was a tax write-off for Jerry's car collection?
posted by cavalier at 5:06 PM on May 24 [2 favorites]


The thing that srikes me about Jerry is, watching the segment between him and Larry David on Jerry's web show is this: Jerry Seinfeld is Paul McCartney and Larry David is John Lennon.

Jerry is the kinda guy that a lot of folks can enjoy, and he knows it. He knows how to leverage it. He is a bit shallow, perhaps, but it's in a way that a huge segment of the population can identify with. He's cute, clever, kinda sweet (in a 90's snarky way). That's Paul.

Larry is the kinda guy that has serious problems. He worries about things that most folks let go, but he can step back and observe himself doing it. He's not really attractive, and even when he plays off the neurosis he has, it's a little bitter, a little hurtful. That's John.

Jerry needs Larry because he can riff off the things that Larry worries about, even moreso than Larry himself. And when they worked together, it was like The Beatles.

The thing about The Beatles, and Seinfeld (the show) is it's one of those rare things in the world when something of really high quality was AT THE SAME TIME really, really popular. They were both a magical creative product, and they have both influenced the zeitgeist from their inception.
posted by valkane at 7:39 PM on May 24 [9 favorites]


I'd love to see an episode with him and Gene Simmons. The sheer amount of egoism would implode Manhattan
posted by Renoroc at 6:55 AM on May 25 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a fine interview, although the part about Seinfeld's hair was odd. The guy is balding. He obviously doesn't seem too concerned about it, but talking about his great head of hair was odd.

Ha, thought the same thing. Did Seinfeld ever have good hair? He wasn't balding 20 years ago and it still looked odd.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:14 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]


"No college degree? Enjoy not making enough money to live on yourself, to say nothing of ever being able to afford kids."

Huh? No. I could introduce to all manner of people without degrees that make a good income and have homes, children etc... There are plenty of good, "good" being a relative term of course, paying jobs that don't require a degree.
posted by MikeMc at 3:47 PM on May 25


MikeMc: Huh? No. I could introduce to all manner of people without degrees that make a good income and have homes, children etc... There are plenty of good, "good" being a relative term of course, paying jobs that don't require a degree.

I bet most of them are older, and got in before things changed. Other than that, there are still a few well-paying jobs that don't require college degrees, but they're mostly of the type that either quickly destroy your body (construction, etc) or where you work crazy hours and which often ruin your home life (trucking, etc.) Jobs that require technical certifications don't count because a lot of those take as much time to get as a college degree and cost as much.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:45 PM on May 26


There are plenty of good, "good" being a relative term of course, paying jobs that don't require a degree.

There are good jobs that don't require a degree, but on average the payoff of going to college has never been higher. From today's article:

Yes, college is worth it, and it’s not even close. For all the struggles that many young college graduates face, a four-year degree has probably never been more valuable.

The pay gap between college graduates and everyone else reached a record high last year, according to the new data, which is based on an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree. That’s up from 89 percent five years earlier, 85 percent a decade earlier and 64 percent in the early 1980s.

posted by Dip Flash at 5:52 AM on May 27


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