BY CHARLES FERN
Jerry Seinfeld is unquestionably one of the most popular stand-up comedians of all time. He is so well-known that it is hard to remember a time when he was not a household name. However, Jerry himself remembers that time in his new Netflix special.
Jerry Before Seinfeld sees the comedian return to The Comic Strip. This small New York club is where Seinfeld first performed in front of an audience. He is doing it all again over 40 years later.
Seinfeld’s stand-up set features his trademark observational humor. He takes on topics such as taxis, trains, Uber, his childhood, and The Comic Strip itself.
Seinfeld’s observations are more amusing than hilarious. However, his delivery of the material undoubtedly engages his audience. They eat up just about everything the man says.
Those familiar with Seinfeld’s work will find some of the material derivative. Examples of this occur when he rehashes bits about “Morning Guy and Night Guy” and being confused about what happens in movies. Both of these bits were featured on his eponymous sitcom.
Seinfeld shines the most when he takes questions from audience members. He has quick responses regarding his Superman bookends on stage and baseball. He does so well that one wishes he would have a special where he only takes audience questions and responds.
In between Seinfeld’s set are documentary clips where Seinfeld talks about his childhood and early days as a stand-up. While this hybrid may sound jarring, the transitions are actually rather smooth.
Seinfeld’s insights into his childhood are particularly amusing. The standout bit comes when he says he certainly would have been funnier if his parents were not normal. This self-deprecating attitude is a major part of the man’s appeal.
One interesting bit shows Seinfeld with a folder filled with papers of material he has written down since 1975. There is so much paper that all of it can cover a whole sidewalk block. Seinfeld is situated in the middle of this block.
Seinfeld reads a bit that he wrote about ponies in the late 1970s. The most interesting thing about this bit is the fact that it likely inspired the memorable Seinfeld episode “The Pony Remark.” Unfortunately, anyone expecting stories about the show may come away disappointed.
The fact that Seinfeld went back to the club where he honed his comedic skills to do this special gives the viewer a look at the man they may not get elsewhere. It also shows humility on Seinfeld’s part, as he has since played at venues on Broadway and in Las Vegas.
This special is certainly amusing and interesting. Any fans of Jerry Seinfeld will certainly want to watch this. The material in the special pales in comparison to his best bits featured on Seinfeld. However this is still a great documentary for any fan of his.
The Flyer gives Jerry Before Seinfeld a 7/10.