The NY Times has a great interview with Jerry Seinfeld today that touches on just about every third rail issue in the world of comedy right now—and despite his reputation as being somewhat of an old school Luddite, he comes across as thoughtful about social media and optimistic about the state of comedy. "It’s amazing, that this [social media and the internet] has become a portal for so much pain," he said. "But I do think, in the larger perspective, if you zoom out, this is all very positive. I think, mostly, about the victims of these things, they’ve got so much more of a platform now than, say, five years ago. That’s all great."
Seinfeld discusses his love for playing at the Beacon Theater (he'll be doing another residency there next year: January 11, February 8, March 14, March 15, April 4, April 5, May 3, May 4, June 6 and June 7, with performances at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on all ten nights) and why he enjoys the "rodeo aspect" of stand-up. He talks about why he shies away from political comedy ("What political material from 15, 20 years ago do you want to hear? None of it, really.") and the suddenness of Roseanne's downfall (though he adds, it was "not unjustified"). And he says he misses Bernie Mac and loved Hannah Gadsby’s polarizing Nanette: "But isn’t that great, that she stretched the form of stand-up to encompass [a one-person show]? This is why people are excited about stand-up now."
But the most interesting bits pertained to Louis C.K.'s even more polarizing comeback attempt after admitting to masturbating in front of multiple women without their consent. Like many other comedians, he doesn't necessarily think it was wrong for C.K. to attempt a comeback less than a year after stepping away from the spotlight—but he does think C.K. chose the wrong way to do so by not discussing anything that happened:
Is it too soon for Louis C.K. to be performing again?
No. It’s the way he did it that I think people didn’t like. Some people didn’t like that he’s doing it at all. We know the routine: The person does something wrong. The person’s humiliated. They’re exiled. They suffer, we want them to suffer. We love the tumble, we love the crash and bang of the fall. And then we love the crawl-back. The grovel. Are you going to grovel? How long are you going to grovel? Are you going to cry? Are you going to Jimmy Swaggart? And people, I think, figured they had that coming with Louie — he owes us that. We, the court of public opinion, decided if he’s going to come back, he’d better show a lot of pain. Because he denied them that.
You don’t think he should stay away from the stage right now?
I can’t say what he should do. You do whatever you want. If he does it wrong, he’s going to suffer. And that’s his deal.
So you don’t have any objection to his coming back?
If there’s a crime here, and the law gets involved, that’s what the law is for. The laws of comedy, we kind of make them up as we go. Part of entertainment, sometimes, is the life of the person. We want that to entertain us, too, as part of the act. We like your show, and then we like your messed-up life. That entertains us as well. When you saw Richard Pryor, it was more than just the act. You’re in the room with this guy who lived this crazy life. Somebody said it’s the first time that someone has misbehaved where all people ask about is, “How’s the perpetrator? How’s he doing?” They don’t ask, “How’s the victim?” Didn’t Sarah Silverman say the other day that she was doing this stuff with him?
In her case, it was consensual.
[Deeply sarcastic] That’s fantastic.
C.K.'s comeback continued unabated this week with another surprise pop-in at the Comedy Cellar on Wednesday. The NY Post reports Chris Rock was in attendance, and at least one group walked out when he came up. "The set was absolutely not all sexual and he was not uncomfortable," a manager told them. "Also a party of women came up to him after the set, hugged him and told him how much they supported him."
A source described the set as receiving a pretty typical response from the crowd, but did confirm that one table left when he came onstage, and added that one woman cursed at C.K. while leaving: "I'm not sure if anybody really knows what she said to him as she walked by, but everybody agrees it had the word 'fuck' in it."
Ticket prices for Jerry Seinfeld at The Beacon are $195.00, $99.50 and $87.50. Tickets for the 2019 shows go on-sale on Friday, November 2, 2018 at 10 a.m. (EST) at beacontheatre.com and ticketmaster.com.