Seinfeld's latest show falters

Comedians. Cars. Coffee. One would think it impossible to ruin these three almost universally appealing things. But Jerry Seinfeld manages to ruin all three in his Internet show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

Seinfeld makes the fatal assumption that simply lumping together two great comedians — himself and a guest — somehow breeds humor. It doesn’t. Jerry isn’t an inherently funny person. He doesn’t do improv. His comedy is restricted to scripted moments.

Out of the spotlight, Seinfeld is awkward, pretentious and a little snotty. He constantly brags, intentionally or not, about how well connected he is, making his fellow comedians visibly uncomfortable. I caught Tina Fey repeatedly glancing at the cameras, pleading for help — and you can’t blame her. The small talk between them was nothing short of painful. You’re no talk show host, Jerry. And how do you mess up a conversation with Tina Fey?

Seinfeld pays higher tribute to the coffee than the comedians. I wrongly assumed that the coffee was just an excuse for two people to get together. Yet in “Comedians,” coffee assumes a larger role. Seinfeld first carefully details where they are going to get the coffee, what part of New York the café is in, and what’s on the menu. The viewer is then treated to a 15-second montage of coffee being ground, pressed, strained and poured. On rare occasions, there’s a quick clip of cream being added.

It was a neat caffeinated medley the first time I saw it, I’ll admit. For some reason though, this scene is repeated several times throughout an episode. It plays after Seinfeld starts the car, when he and his guest get to the coffee shop, as the coffee is brewing, as the coffee is served, as their food is served and again as the coffee is taken away. It’s a 15-minute show and for at least five minutes, this coffee montage plays! We get it, there’s coffee here.

If you came to the show for the cars, you might be slightly satisfied. “Comedians” introduces the car, always an extremely rare classic, at the beginning of the episode. You then get treated to a few clips of Seinfeld driving the car around New York to pick up his guest. This is perhaps the most interesting part of the show: watching a man drive a car at or below the New York City speed limit.

Between the classic cars, the overpriced coffee and the famous comedians, “Comedians in Cars getting Coffee” felt much more like a Seinfeld-fest than a show. This was no more apparent than during the interview of Alec Baldwin. Seinfeld is driving around the Upper East Side with his $12 coffee in one hand and his other hand on the steering wheel of a 1970 Mercedes 280XL, arguing with Baldwin about who makes more money. The viewer has just enough time to acknowledge just how rich Seinfeld really is, then the show cuts to the incessant coffee making clip.

At the very least, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” lives up to its title. If you want to see two comedians being funny or even mildly interesting, however, look elsewhere.

Published February 11, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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