Seinfeld Drives onto the Web with 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee'
The great thing about the old Seinfeld show — besides the odd, mismatched plot threads that somehow always spun together by the end — was its tone.
There was infilling about the mundane and the nondescript and kibitzing about the curious little parts of ordinary life that were slightly off and irritating. When Seinfeld dissected the inane, it became funny.
That's the better part of Seinfeld's talent, and it's what made the show great. Any fan recalls the bits about seedless watermelons, the avoidance of exclamations marks and finding fungicide in a friend's medicine cabinet. It's what made Seinfeld a stand-up comedy king and later, a network sitcom success.
Now, Seinfeld is applying the same comedic approach to his new endeavor, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The new web series, available on Crackle, dispenses with plot entirely, and allows Seinfled to just go for the schtick.
The premise of the web series is simple: Seinfeld picks up a pal in a vintage car and they go for coffee.
In the 13-minute premiere episode, "Larry Eats a Pancake," Seinfeld goes on an outing with former Seinfeld collaborator Larry David. Only a few minutes into the short, David — being typically self-centered and contrary — orders herbal tea. So much for the title of the series.
David ponders the upset of him drinking tea while another has coffee. Seinfeld leans forward, and says, "We go to an ice cream shop. I get a cone. And you get a salad. That's the difference. … It's the mood."
As they both laugh, it's clear that that sort of curve is as good as it gets for the two. From there it's on to other things that irritate and amuse them: free-range chickens that aren't actually free or on a range that we envision John Wayne would wander; why cigar smoking is contemplative and cigarette smoking is anxious; how boxer briefs can give you the childhood comfort of briefs but the adult style of boxers. Seinfeld even goes into a somewhat familiar soup rant.
So maybe it's not the A-list stuff, the Man Hands or Puffy Shirt material from the old Seinfeld days. But the bits in Comedians in Cars are impromptu and show the real affection and chemistry between the two that was key to their successful collaboration.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee has the authenticity and charm of David's Steinberg's Showtime series, Inside Comedy, which lets viewers see performers at ease, and captures their natural inclination for wandering into ideas. You get the feeling that comedians, in general, most likely think they could not write anything better than what they muster up when they're out having breakfast or lunch.
It's hard to imagine Seinfeld ever matching the lightning-in-a-bottle that was the Seinfeld show. But then again, the internet is an entirely new venue. Comedians in Cars is a low-risk, high-reward venture that offers wide exposure without all the heavy lifting of a scripted series. Clips from upcoming episodes include outings with Ricky Gervais, Alec Baldwin, Michael Richards and others, and seem just as spontaneous and uproarious as the premiere.
Watching the premiere outing, you can see Seinfeld really enjoying himself. He muses back on the days of the old show when David would pitch preposterous ideas, and he would immediately go along.
He tells David, "you continue to have one of the finest minds I've ever met. Since day one."
David thanks him, and as they leave the diner he remarks, "You have finally done a show about nothing."
The next episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee debuts Thursday, August 2.