Many of those who know me know that one of the oftentimes unexpected great influencers in my life has been Jerry Seinfeld. Great comedians are rarely cited by young professionals as the heroes and celebrity mentors we look to for wisdom and inspiration, but what fascinates me about Seinfeld has been his ability to create such phenomenal influence in his work just by so deeply being — and portraying — himself.
When I use the word “deeply”, I mean Jerry Seinfeld is not just “being himself” in the sense of doing what he wants. Whether you’re watching his eponymous 90s sitcom, or listening to any of his interviews, or watching his new show Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, you’ll find that Jerry Seinfeld has a profound interest in uncovering what it is that makes himself and those around him tick. He loves finding and examining the quirks and nuances in life that most of us pay little attention to, and then he loves even more to make comedy out of exaggerating the way those quirks and nuances affect people’s lives.
Today I just want to make an observation about his show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, a show that I’ve been following since its first season a number of years ago. What makes this show so uniquely engaging and yes, educational, for me is that it is truly one of the great industry-documentary series ever created. What the Comedians in Cars show does that perhaps escape many of its viewers, is that it showcases the inner world of comedians, an industry niche within the entertainment industry that maybe few people even recognize is an industry. Watch through all the episodes of Comedians in Cars, and you’ll learn about the different ways comedians come up with materials, the different icons and industry legends that they look up to, and the careerpaths of successful comedians who are today actors and talk show hosts. You’ll learn how jokes and bits and sets are constructed, the tricks of the trade on how comedians present their materials to “work the audience”, and the ways active comedians observe and support each other’s work.
All this and more are presented in such an entertaining fashion with the show Comedians in Cars. The editing of the show is fantastic, the pacing of the conversations, the seeming serendipity of interactions on the streets and diners and bakeries and everywhere else Jerry takes his guests.
As a conference producer, my greatest fascination is in the creation and presentation of human conversation. The format, to me and most event producers, is even more significant than any specific subject matter, because the right format can be applicable to so many different niches. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is a show that has absolutely found the right format. If the goal of the show is to present the world of comedians to general audiences, then no other format could possibly achieve the influence that Jerry Seinfeld has created with this show. Not even actors, or politicians, or any other form of celebrity profession more mainstream than that of comedians, have shows to present the behind-the-scenes work of their field in a way that general audiences are able to learn from and be entertained by.
His 90s sitcom was created — and it’s not the often-claimed story on how “it’s a show about nothing — to showcase how comedians come up with materials. His current web series was created to showcase the quirks and nuances of comedians in real life. He has devoted his whole life to not only being the best at his craft, but also to the elevating of his craft in the minds of the general public. And that, in my opinion, is the greatest genius of Jerry Seinfeld.
See you at the next exploration!