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Appreciating ‘Good’ Comedy: “Jerry before Seinfeld”

Legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld talks about his journey as a comedian in his new Netflix special 'Jerry before Seinfeld.' PHOTO/ www.netflixcenter.com
Legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld talks about his journey as a comedian in his new Netflix special ‘Jerry before Seinfeld.’ PHOTO/ www.netflixcenter.com

By Ariana Miglino

Published: October 4th, 2017

Most of us know the now 63-year-old comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, from the famous sitcom “Seinfeld.” The show, popularly known as the “show about nothing,” ran from 1989 to 1998. Throughout Seinfeld’s long comedic career, he has been known to bring laughter and joy to the thousands of crowds he has entertained, not only breaking records, but making a name for himself.

On September 19, a Netflix special named “Jerry before Seinfeld” started streaming globally. While thousands of people tuned in expecting a biopic, the special focused on Seinfeld’s life as a young comedian and how he started his career in entertainment.

The hour-long special starts off with Seinfeld going back to his roots on the stage of The Comic Strip Live in New York City. With a simple stage, one spotlight and a few props, he starts his seemingly familiar skit.

The Comic Strip gave Seinfeld his start in the early 1970’s, showcasing his talent. Although he was not paid, he went back night after night trying to establish a name for himself. During the special you can see the camera focus in on a framed picture of his audition paper hung up on The Comic Strip wall of fame. As it focuses onto the frame, you see the word “good” written in big letters and circled.

Seinfeld talks about writing out every idea he had for a joke primarily on yellow legal paper and keeping it in a large accordion style folder. As Seinfeld talks about this, one can see him sitting in the middle of an old cobble stone street in New York, with every joke he had ever written fanned out onto the pavement, reaching beyond what the eye can see. Although a bit overdramatic, it set the tone for just how long Seinfeld’s career was.

“Anytime I wrote something that worked, I saved it in this accordion folder. Every single thing. And this is it, from 1975 to this morning,” Seinfeld said.

Seinfeld starts off by telling the audience that this was the first stage he ever performed. He said his career had started at The Comic Strip in his early twenties, when he first moved into New York City in a tiny one-room apartment. This eventually led him to creating the show “Seinfeld,” a seemingly ordinary show about a group of ordinary New Yorkers; we know them as George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards).

Seinfeld spent most of his young life growing up in Long Island, joking, “You don’t live IN the Island you live ON the island, and you don’t live ON the city you live IN the city.”

Seinfeld jokes about his parents by saying, “Our parents didn’t really care… about anything.” Then goes on to speak about his father not allowing him to touch the thermostat his entire childhood, “I was 28-years-old, in a hotel room in Pittsburgh when I finally had the guts to make it a little warmer. I was terrified my father was going to burst through that door.”

Seinfeld’s comedic style tells his audience his viewpoint on the world and his place in it. Clearly, he brought that to this special and made sure the audience knew exactly where he came from and the kind of humor he wanted to bring to the stage. Many viewers were expecting a biography of his life and how he became Jerry Seinfeld. Although this was not the case, this special brought us into the world that is Seinfeld, and it made us appreciate good comedy when we see it.

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