If you haven’t been watching Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee then you need to start right now. I love cars and I love coffee and I love comedy but the thought of all three with Jerry Seinfeld at the wheel sounded boring as shit. Here’s a successful guy riding around in expensive cars with other successful guys kind of like a I’m Rich Bitch Cash Cab.
The formula is simple. David Letterman, Ricky Gervais and in the upcoming series, Louis C.K. and Tina Fey along with a ton of other funny people ride along with car connoisseur Seinfeld, go to a local spot for coffee and breakfast/lunch/brunch and shoot the shit. Only everyone is deadly funny.
I wasn’t into it for the longest time. Didn’t give it a chance even. And that’s why I’m sitting here in my tank top with food stains posting on a site that has 7 hits every month. Well, to be fair, a lot more than that but “7 hits” is funnier.
The show is packed with delightful things. The cars are unusual because Jerry Seinfeld is wealthy as fuck as well as an astute car lover and is so connected he can summon the likes of Larry David and Mel Brooks out for a ride. Actually, Mel didn’t go out for the ride. It was Karl Reiner. Mel came over for dinner – as he does every night at Reiner’s – and the three dished like the comedy gods that they are. I’m pretty sure the Filipina housekeeping was like, “Great another one of these guys chewing with his mouth open.”
And the comedians are unexpectedly real. Seinfeld is also decidedly wonderful to watch and easily interacts with each comic making us feel as though we are a fly on the wall. If flies were allowed to swarm around celebrities. I hear there’s a 500 feet rule.
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is genuine which is hard to do with a bunch of smartasses and show business veterans. Seinfeld is good at this, though. Like Charlie Rose in a vintage Porsche.
One of the most poignant episodes is from season 1 with Michael Richards as the ride along guest. Seinfeld picks up Richards in a battered and rusted VW van/wagen. Richards is genuine and lovely and you almost forget that he called a black guy the n-word repeatedly nearly 8 years ago when he was bombing at the Laugh Factory in 2007. The black guy was heckling him but come on. Damn.
Richards has become the cautionary tale amongst newbie stand-ups. It’s not an easy job and only the seasoned live to work again. It’s those grueling sets that prepare you for hecklers. Richards is not the first guy to hurl insults back at the audience. Some are great at it like Louis C.K. And he even got away with calling a chick a “daft cunt.”
Some are not so good at it. Katt Williams and now infamously, Michael Richards.
For a man who built his entire career around a lovable, physical guy who saw the world through his brilliant slapstick madness, calling people n-words was the last thing we all expected.
Still, when Richards brings it up to Seinfeld over lunch, we believe him when he says that the whole thing “busted him up.” Seinfeld stood beside Richards when the event happened but didn’t justify the racism. With Richards appearance on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, Seinfeld gives the talented actor some encouragement to get back out there. It’s almost as if Richards was waiting for that blessing.
The best moments on the show are when Seinfeld and his guest get on that same level. It’s magic. Whether it’s Chris Rock talking about why bullying is important to Larry David’s explanation of why a person looks wiser smoking a cigar over a cigarette.
If you want a quick idea of just how good this show is, watch the episode with Ricky Gervais having a white knuckle ride with Seinfeld in a 1967 Austin Healey. Seinfeld is a speed demon so watching the Brit squirm is hilarious.