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At the end of his nearly hour and half long set last Friday, Jerry Seinfeld told the audience he was going to give it to them straight, and with a toothy smile said, “I'm old, I'm rich and I'm tired.”
He was responding to a question from the audience about whether he'd ever come back to TV, and he was not being straight. In the fall, he'll return to TV as the producer — and almost certainly occasional host — of a reality show called “The Marriage Refs.” But, moreover, while he's unquestionably rich (he makes more on syndication than most do from current TV shows) and he may be old, or at least, at 55, older than we remember him from “Seinfeld,” he shows no signs of being tired.
Maybe it was an ironic nod to the perception, in Hollywood and beyond, that since his TV show ended a decade ago, he's enjoyed a cushy self-exile. He rarely appears on TV (“Hannah Montana,” “30 Rock” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” have been exceptions). His only starring movie role came, several years back, in the animated “Bee Movie.” Aside from the occasional commercial, we don't see the man whose riffs on minutiae were such regular part of our entertainment lives not too long ago.
But that's because we're not crisscrossing comedy clubs and theaters around the country. That's where Seinfeld's been hiding out. Free to do whatever he pleases, he's doing what he's always done: tell jokes on stage.
“This speaking voice is not welcome in my home,” he said early in his act on Friday, in a near yell. “I can't say these sort of things at home, which is why I'm here, saying them to you.”
Just as his dating life provided fodder for “Seinfeld” and his earlier stand-up material, now his wife of nearly 10 years and three kids serve as a good bulk of his material. “Marriage is like a game show,” he said at one point, “and you're always in the lightning round.”
The comedian never uttered the words “What's the deal with …?” But they were implicit in meandering riffs on Pop Tarts, prescription drug commercials, the crawling strips at the bottom of TV newscasts and old people.
Like Michael Jordan, Seinfeld believes in wearing suits in front of an audience and doesn't comment on politics or, for that matter, say much of anything controversial (unless you're offended by PG-13 language and jokes about the four-hour erections of drug commercials). He's old school. He hones an act and then rides it, tweaking here and there, but mostly doing the same show in theater after theater.
That meant a few stale moments, including one joke about *69, the callback function on phones no one has used in the last five years. Otherwise, for most part, everything held up. He talked about the iPhone and how unsatisfying it is to hang up on someone with emphasis by gliding your finger across the screen and offered a new motto for Twitter: “Why say a lot of things to a few people, when you can say nothing to everybody!” Funny, particularly since the web service was often described as the “Seinfeld” of the Internet in its early days.
At the end of his set, after he'd returned onstage for a few minutes to answer audience questions, he and opener Larry Miller, who was funny in a short opening set, came out and did a bow and bounced off the stage. They looked like they were ready to do it all over again.
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