I spent Rosh Hashanah this year at a Jerry Seinfeld comedy show at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach. Why not spend the Jewish holiday with one of the most famous Jewish entertainers of all time?
The mean age of the crowd had to be around 50 years-old but probably ranged from 21-75. I can’t say either number really surprised me. I used to stay up and watch Seinfeld with my Dad who is a big fan and is about that average age. We both loved the show, and its universal appeal is probably what made it one of the most popular TV shows ever.
Despite his popularity, Seinfeld acted surprised by the packed house in front of him. The fact that we had made it “out” impressed him considering that it was a 7:00 show on a Thursday. In his eyes we all deserved points for remembering that the show was even happening, planning dinner around the 7:00 start time, and getting to our seats on time. Married couples got 3 bonus points for making it out – overcoming a variety of “are you ready” questions between spouses. I think my husband and I got 4 points after getting lost in downtown Long Beach which I blame on Google Maps. Not surprisingly, our reliance on smart phones and technology was a subject Jerry covered quite extensively before the night ended.
Besides “where the heck is the Terrace Theater?” I came into the experience with a lot of questions. Would Jerry look and act like the old Seinfeld and his character on the sitcom? Would he dress in a suit and tie and insist on holding a standard microphone? Would he stray from “rehearsed” material? Would he joke about the simple things in life like he used to? Would he be sarcastic? Would he be jaded? Would he still be funny?
Although Jerry “chose not to run” in “The Race” episode he did run on stage that night to a standing ovation. The Golden Globe award winner was dressed in a well-pressed suit and held a good ol’ 90’s microphone – nothing fancy but you could tell it was all part of the set.
The audience got a sense early on that Seinfeld isn’t one to deliver line-for-line what he may have rehearsed. I appreciated the occasional joke about the person who was getting to their seat 10 minutes late, or the lady who got up to use the restroom and “would never know how the coffee joke ended.” Despite this free-flowing nature I only noticed him lose his train of thought once, and most of the performance was smoothly delivered. The performance gave the impression that you could see Jerry multiple times in one year and it’d still be worth the money every time. I find that amateur stand-up comedians forget to keep their material fresh. Seinfeld didn’t. He referenced things that those living in-and-around Long Beach would understand; also, changing up the punch line to make the joke work better for the audience in Southern California.
My favorite part of the show was that Jerry always joked about subjects that every person in the audience could relate to – public bathrooms, the ridiculous difficulty of the game of golf, cell phone answering machines, Caller ID, *69, Facebook, Poptarts, and energy drinks to name a few. When he made a joke about married folks, he’d follow it up with a joke about how single people would not understand; then he’d proceed to make a joke about being single and how the married folk wouldn’t understand. For a 59 year-old man who grew up on the East Coast, that has a large Porche collection, kids, and whose “life sucks a little less” than mine – I found that I oddly related to most of his jokes about the everyday things he encounters. He knows that most of us aren’t like him – a millionaire who co-created one of the best TV series of all time – but he does a good job in fooling us to think he is.
After the 90-minute set, Seinfeld did take questions from the audience. While he refused to pick between the New York Mets or New York Yankees (surprising considering he will be joining the broadcast crew at a few upcoming Mets games), he did answer questions about his reason for being here on the Jewish Holiday, the fact that he owns more cars than “would make sense”, and questions about the show that made him famous. Word of advice: refrain from any questions that are not thought out because Jerry is not afraid to call you out for asking such a question. Also, don’t expect him to open up beyond the basics of his life or his families – the most intimate moment may have come when he revealed that his daughter sleeps in his and his wife’s bed still.
I’m not an expert on stand-up comedy but I appreciated Jerry’s delivery, the every-day jokes that all ages could understand, and the healthy amount of sarcasm he sprinkled in. His big gestures from acting out a chessboard made of flowing water to getting on his hands and knees to mimic a dying cell phone battery had the audience captivated from joke to joke and reminded me of the Seinfeld I used to watch every night on TV.
Seinfeld joked that everything is either “great or it sucks.” As I walked out, rehashing the funniest jokes with my husband, I was relieved to know that Jerry Seinfeld is still a great comedian. On a Thursday night, it was exactly what I needed – simple, relatable, and funny.
Jerry Seinfeld is touring through December with thirteen shows still on the Comedian’s schedule. He’ll stop in New Orleans for three shows at the Saenger Performing Arts Center and in Pittsburgh for two.