Day 26: Jerry Seinfeld

Day 26. I’m sharing stand up that I like each day this month, and weekends I’ve been reserving for bits from specials. Today’s comes from the “I’m Telling You For The Last Time” Jerry Seinfeld special, and here’s some reasons I’m still laughing at it 21 years later:

• PHYSICALITY. While it’s easy to think of Seinfeld as solely a gifted observational comedian, his performance often gets me laughing from a physicality that can be overlooked. Whether it’s smaller motions, like the car wash strips he makes with his arms or the intense gnawing of the seatbelt, or bigger motions, like the metal tangs pose or the stewardess dance or the goofy running around after he’s turned on the water, this isn’t just a comic who’s sitting back and discharging observations. He’s very actively and physically showing me the funny thoughts that live in his mind.

• REIMAGINING. Seinfeld’s observations are sharp and humorous, but how he’s able to keep me laughing is by coming up with theories that pertain to the observations. He notices the airport faucet, but he also imagines, “What is it that they think we would do with a faucet?” He notices the vague stewardess point to emergency exits, but he comes up with a theory on what she’s actually thinking and reimagines what the points actually mean. It’s these theories allow a single funny observation to grow into hilarious bits.

• PRECISE LANGUAGE. Seinfeld’s word choice is one of the ways he’s able to morph a keen observation into a joke worthy of his stage. Airport security? They’re a “crack squad of savvy, motivated personnel.” Airport faucets? It’s a “one-handed, spring-loaded, pain-in-the-ass, Alcatraz-style faucet.” The observations are funny in their own right, but by using deliberate descriptions, he makes them vivid in my mind. The result is an image that really shines and a bit that really pops. (For Precise Language, see also: Stewart Lee, Day 6.)

Hope you enjoyed it, and for Seinfeld announcements, check out his IG: @jerryseinfeld