Jerry is back for an updated show with new material and it looks like the old master has still has all the tools that has made him a comedy powerhouse.
Have you ever had that very particular feeling that comes when a band you’ve loved for years puts out an album for the first time in a while? It’s a strange mixture of anticipation and excitement knowing that there might just about to be something new that you love in the world, but also that sense of dread and apprehension that comes from seeing people that used to be great at something doing it badly. When I sat down and pressed play on Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill that is more or less how I felt. Would he still have the magic? Or would he just be cranking out derivative versions of the same stuff I used to like? I am pleased to say that the former is the case.
Seinfeld has updated his act itself to talk about his family life, his views on smartphones and just, well, how terrible everything is. There is that familiar highly-strung pitch in his voice when he is at his most exasperated, the same ‘have you ever noticed…’ observational style, but the subject matter has evolved with the times. It is remarkable that Seinfeld can still put together relatable stand-up material when you consider that his life for the last 30 years or so has been anything other than normal.
Where for the most part the material is up to date and current, there are a couple of moments in Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill where he flirts uncomfortably with using some outdated terms and language. At one point whilst I was watching my wife stuck her head in and asked “did he really just ‘mentally handicapped?!” Now in his mid-sixties, one could perhaps put it down to generational attitudes to certain terms and language or perhaps that particular case doesn’t translate across the Atlantic; either way, it did create a slightly strange watching experience where I was never 100% comfortable that he won’t totally cross the boundary.
You can see the extent to which this material has been polished, trimmed for any excess fat, and put back together into the leanest possible form of the show that he can find. Given how well constructed a show this is, Seinfeld seems to still have his enthusiasm for being there on stage. At one point he even remarks to the audience along those lines: “You know what I have done, if you were me, would you still be cranking out another one of these?”.
If Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee showed us anything it is that Jerry Seinfeld is a massive comedy geek. The way that his face bursts into life whenever he is sat across the table from another comedian discussing the DNA of a good joke is like the way that my 6-year-old looks when presented with ice cream. Pure unfettered joy and that comes across in his act. Seinfeld just looks like a man that is never happier than when he has a mic and an audience, and I am delighted that in Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill, he still does it really well.
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