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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 2017 has been an awesome year for stand-up comedy, with new specials from Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, Tracy Morgan, Bill Burr, and Marc Maron. Plus we have a new president that unintentionally sounds like a comedian. And now, Jerry Seinfeld has just released his new stand-up special, Jerry Before Seinfeld, on Netflix, his first special in almost 20 years. And it’s pretty damn phenomenal.
For whatever reason, it’s cool for millennials to hate Seinfeld. It’s been two decades since his iconic sitcom hit the airwaves, and young people tend to see him as more of a caricature of himself than an actual, three dimensional entertainer. He’s seen as the hugest embodiment of a boring and hacky “what’s the deal with…” old-school style of humor. And that’s a damn shame, because Seinfeld broke ground and pioneered what we now see as the cliche style of stand-up, and he’s the king of it. Call him corny all you want, but when it comes to jokes, he’s a master craftsman.
Instead of recording the thing in a big ass theater or an arena he could easily fill, he recorded it in a small comedy club where he started out back in the day in New York. He hasn’t asked what the deal is with airline food on a TV screen since he released I’m Telling You For The Last Time back in 1998, but he hasn’t missed a beat. Which makes sense since he’s been hitting the stage frequently ever since. He even quit doing his insanely popular TV show so he could focus all of his energy on stand-up.
He still does that classic, observational humor — why fix what isn’t broken? His whole act is also still squeaky clean, and he still manages to be hilarious even with confines of somehow not mentioning his dick for 60 minutes. It’s a miracle. Jerry is the cleanest comedian. It used to be Bill Cosby until we found out he was literally THE dirtiest comedian. God dammit, Bill.
Everything about the performance is classic Seinfeld. The exasperated voice asking specific questions about the mundane every life. Watching it is like stepping into a time machine and going back to the mid-90s. A simpler time when our fingers were glued to Gameboys playing Pokemon Red and people hated a different Clinton. It has that classic feel and it just feels like home.
He’s still the king of the observational style of humor that he pioneered and inspired dozens of horrifically hacky knockoffs. Even if you walk into an open mic today, you might still find a 56-year-old white dude in a suit doing a painfully unfunny seven minutes about why yogurt is weird or some shit. Sad.
So check it out sometime. It doesn’t come close to the monumental masterpiece that is Bee Movie, but obviously nothing does..