Seinfeld proved why he’s considered one of the greatest comedians of his generation when he came to town this weekArts/Entertainment/Culture, Feature, Opinion — By Joe Burd on June 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm
The best comedian of our time, as many consider him, is forever immortalized in syndication standing in his kitchen, eating sugary cereal for dinner, in jeans and sneakers with his shirt un-tucked.
But on a warm, balmy evening in June, in a town where nobody thought he'd ever heard about let alone come to perform, Jerry Seinfeld was dressed like he was going out on the town in a dark suit, a crisp, white shirt, an elegant, silvery pin-striped tie and a nice pair of shoes to complement the look.
The comedic troubadour Jerry Seinfeld was in town this week bringing his local fans only the best of his infamous brand of observational humour.
For a little over an hour before a sold-out crowd at Sarnia's RBC Centre, Seinfeld did a full sweep of topics from cell phones to social media and coffee to marriage and a lesson on how similar it is when something's great or sucks.
But before we get too much further, this story wouldn't be complete without making mention of Seinfeld's opening act, Tom Papa. Papa is known as a seasoned stand-up comedian and has appeared a number of times on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman.
Papa is a phenomenal comic in his own right, proving as much during his 22-minute opening performance, keeping the audience in stitches and getting them primed for the main event of the evening.
Talking about smart phones and kids today, Papa asked, "Do you realize the amount of pornography these kids have in their pockets 24 hours a day?"
He continued, "Do you know what I had to do when I was eight-years-old to see a picture of a naked lady in a magazine? I had to run an underground railroad, with a series of meeting points and backpack drop-offs, switching bicycles in abandoned garages, digging through the woods into the house, into the basement and then inside the crawl space."
Papa finished the joke by asking the audience what an eight-year-old would think of a Playboy today, and then replied that the kid would probably just think, "Nah, I was into that in preschool."
The audience loved him, eating up everything coming out of his mouth.
He finished his schtick with a tirade about cleaning products, "The only cleaning products in my house are all-natural cleaners," adding that his wife only wants to use orange juice because; "She wants to save the planet and says it really works."
"No it doesn't. We wouldn't have invented all these other products if orange juice did the trick," he said in a quintessential dead-pan tone.
"If your kid throws up in the middle of the night, you don't care about saving the planet. You want to see Mr. Clean. You want that bald (expletive) just smiling at you. In that tight shirt, you're not sure if he's gay or straight or a pirate," continued Papa. "He might look at you like he wants to kill your cat, but he'll also leave your place sparkling clean and smelling like lemons."
The styles of Seinfeld and Papa are similar enough to make him probably one of the single best choices to open up for the comic master, leaving no question why Seinfeld often hand-picks Papa for different gigs, including naming him as the host on NBC's Marriage Ref.
Moments after Papa left the stage and audience comedically sated, Seinfeld stormed the stage to a standing ovation.
"Oh my God, Sarnia, Ontario!" yelled Jerry Seinfeld as he came running on stage, shouting as though he was mockingly excited to be in our little city by the bay. "I have wanted to come here my entire life!"
He continued, “It’s not true. But I’m here now. It seems weird. You’re probably asking ‘why would he… be… here?’“
The crowd was in pieces right from the first words that came out of his mouth and, to be sure, this is a city that loves hearing its name dropped by famous folks when they come to town.
He went on to unfailingly entertain, spending the first 10 minutes talking about how people in a town like Sarnia might go about planning a night out to see his show, the possible inconveniences for the working person to go out on a Thursday rather than Friday or Saturday, and the importance we all put on what seat we might sit in at a given event or place such as a restaurant.
“The only time you’re happy getting out of a chair is if you’re going to a bed,” he quipped adding, “A bed beats a chair. Nothing beats the bed; it’s like a straight royal flush. That’s why beds have names like King and Queen.”
Then he pointed out how even in death, you still need a bed: “That’s why it’s called a death bed.”
He continued, “Why would you even buy a bed like that? Where is that section of the furniture store? The salesperson would say ‘and here’s our death bed section over here.’”
The crowd loved it and couldn’t get enough.
When he started talking about coffee, he almost immediately name-dropped Tim Hortons to which he received another very loud ovation. After all, folks around here love their Timmy’s.
Seinfeld went on to talk about almost everything you’d expect from him during his show; from coffee and the importance of hydration, to technology and smart phones, to Caller ID and why the phone company would choose the infamous number 69 for a star code, to pop tarts as the greatest food to have come about in his childhood.
“And you don’t have to worry about freshness either, because they were never fresh to begin with.”
At one point, someone in the audience heckled the master saying, “Nice tie,” to which Seinfeld immediately retorted, convincingly making fun of the heckler for heckling. It was classic form for a stage veteran like him and quickly quieted the heckler, resulting in another loud ovation from the crowd.
He also talked about how we invent things in our lives to fill in the holes because all our lives suck.
“One of the reasons we do these types of things, or we create shows, invented them… It’s not because we had to, we didn’t have to make this,” he said referring to his own performance and those like it.
“People say life’s too short, but actually it’s too long. It is exhausting coming up with things to fill in all the gaps in it, there are a lot of gaps to fill. Tonight’s a Thursday night gap.”
Convincing us that our lives don't suck is a major issue, said Seinfeld.
"This is the major driving force in life. Tomorrow you’ll all be walking around saying ‘My life doesn’t suck. I was at the RBC arena last night.’”
Seinfeld continued on to say that there’s not much of a different between something that’s great and something that sucks. He said everywhere he goes people tell him about different restaurants that are great, but said he’d rather go somewhere that’s “not bad.”
He said that nowadays, there are really only two ratings people give anything: great and sucks; but he sees both labels as “almost the same.”
“When you go to a great restaurant, it usually sucks,” the comic went on to say. “When you go to a baseball game, you get a hotdog, its cold, the bun is soggy, and it’s being served by an ex-con, but we love it. We say it’s great… Is it great? Yes. Does it suck? Yes. That’s how close they are!”
The latter half of his show focused mainly on relationship humour and awkward situations, the differences between single guys and married guys; and explaining how a man’s wardrobe always reflects the “last good year in their youth” – before marriage and adulthood.
As he finished his performance and prepared to leave the stage, the crowd went wild, giving him another standing ovation, and repeatedly shouting his name, clearly hoping it wasn’t really the end of a "great" show that definitely didn't "suck."
The show had something for everyone and reminded us exactly why his sitcom ran at the top of the ratings for nine exceptional years, why he continues to perform at sold-out venues, and why he’s considered the greatest American comedian of his generation.