COMEDY Appeal of Seinfeld? It isn't for nothing
His universal comedy still makes us laugh, and he's still at the top of his game.
By JOHN BENSON
A show about nothing. It's such a simple idea. Heck, you or I could have come up with it (we both know that's a lie). But really, this show about nothing was truly a show about everything. A show about life and all of its idiosyncrasies. A show called "Seinfeld."
More so, many of us have embraced "Seinfeld" as if it's a self-help series to survival, dating, employment, etc. But maybe some of us are a bit obsessive. Years after Seinfeld pulled the plug on the show and returned to stand-up comedy, a few thousand minions congregated at Cleveland's Playhouse Square to see the New York City comedian in action.
All was good until an awkward moment arrived during a brief question and answer segment at the end of his set when he had to remind the perhaps fanatical crowd that "Seinfeld" characters Kramer, Elaine and George were fictional, while he, indeed, was real. So why does this "bizarre" world of sorts exist in our minds even though we know the truth?
Normally the line between fact and fiction -- especially when emanating from episodic television -- is pretty distinct, but the root of the success in "Seinfeld" comes from its reality.
We all have a bit of Kramer, Elaine, George or Jerry in us. That is, we've all wondered how to make a nickel by recycling cans of pop in nearby Michigan, went a bit too far with a bad idea (i.e. urban sombrero), considered (we stress CONSIDERED) using the bathroom tub for a toilet ("It's all pipes!") and broken up with someone for a petty reason ("She had man hands!").
Such universal comedy painted Seinfeld as the perfect icon for his time. Every generation has a master of quintessence. The post-World War II generation had Jackie Gleason encapsulating the "And awaaay we go" mindset and hard work ethic for Depression era survivors. For the baby boomers, that title goes to Billy Crystal, whose movie roles all appear to be rooted from the same "Leave it to Beaver"-meets-"Woodstock" experiences.
Then there's Jerry Seinfeld, a baby boomer, who inspired the baby boomers and younger Generations, X, Y (and whatever is next) with a television show that will endure in the pantheon of greats. Just as people reminisce about the classic episode of "I Love Lucy" when Lucy is on the roller skates, television viewers for decades to come will cherish the humanness of "The Contest."
This brings us back to the appeal of Jerry Seinfeld today, which can be experienced in his standup comedy. Seinfeld entertains Youngstown with two shows Friday. Walking on stage with that "I can't believe these people are paying me" smirk, the master of his domain -- observational comedy -- remains atop his game. Zealots can easily see how every single, seemingly random, thought or comment of Seinfield's could in its day be turned into an episode of nothingness.
Jerry, the linchpin
Sure, HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (written by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David) offers hints of "Seinfeld" trivial-mindedness, but there's no replacing Jerry, who acted as the linchpin to lunacy and was either the instigator of the insults or the purveyor of common sense within a world of illogic. So long live Seinfeld, who isn't laughing with us, he's laughing at us. And we're laughing back.