Jerry Seinfeld Was Right

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 30: Jerry Seinfeld attends SiriusXM's 'Unfrosted' Town Hall at SiriusXM Studios on April 30, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Jerry Seinfeld’s days of “yada yada yada” are over.

The comedian behind “the show about nothing” is getting serious of late, sharing sober advice with college graduates, supporting the state of Israel and explaining why comedy ain’t what it used to be.

The latter, inexplicably, caused him the most grief.

The 70-year-old told The New Yorker podcast that the “extreme Left” is responsible for the modern decline in comedy.

“It used to be you would go home at the end of the day, most people would go, ‘Oh, ‘Cheers’ is on,” he told the publication. “‘Oh, ‘M.A.S.H.’ is on, oh, ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ is on. … You just expected, there’ll be some funny stuff we can watch on TV tonight. Well, guess what? Where is it? This is the result of the extreme left and PC crap, and people worrying so much about offending other people.”

The reaction was wildly predictable. Conservatives, who by and large want comedians to say whatever they please sans filter, cheered the proclamation. 

The media and the Left — but we repeat ourselves — threw a fit.

For example, CNN published an essay capturing the author’s “growing unease” with the squeaky-clean comic.

Seinfeld’s “observational comedy” leaves no resonances or echoes in its wake; it doesn’t startle or upend expectations. And unlike the epochal sitcom David and Seinfeld brought forth together, Seinfeld’s routines don’t leave you with any perceptions of substance about what is truly mortifying about Being Human.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 18: Jerry Seinfeld performs onstage at the 2023 Good+Foundation “A Very Good+ Night of Comedy” Benefit at Carnegie Hall on October 18, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Good+Foundation)

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Good+Foundation

Why is “observational comedy” in scare quotes? Is that an inaccurate term? Better yet, why does every yuk have to come with a socially progressive message?

Slate weighed in, too, with a comically titled piece, “What’s the Deal with Jerry Seinfeld?”

His crime? He isn’t singing from the progressive hymnal.

“…he’s even started embracing his Judaism more publicly, and in December traveled to Tel Aviv to visit the families of Hamas hostages. Who can fault a Jewish celebrity for calling attention to the dead and missing of Israel? Yet he’s notably not commented on the Netanyahu government, condemned the war, or discussed the suffering of Gazans.”

Had he done the latter, this “think” piece wouldn’t exist.

Other attacks on the comic legend proved pathetic. He’s old! He’s white! He’s out of touch!

The Washington Post whined that he should “wake up” and realize “mean-spirited humor isn’t cool anymore.” Except Seinfeld is the opposite of “mean-spirited.” He’s so clean you could eat Spam off his stand-up set.

Plus, the media doesn’t mind mean-spirited gags that target a certain former President or MAGA nation. Or Christians.

It’s a dodge. All of it. Why? Seinfeld was right, and he hit a nerve so deep it explains the extreme reactions.

“Seinfeld,” one of TV’s greatest sitcoms, routinely is labeled “problematic.” That means some of the gags are now offensive/racist/sexist/name-the-ist.

Salon cited 10 classic episodes for condemnation. And it’s far from alone on this front.

Seinfeld himself cited one example, recalling an episode where Kramer (Michael Richards) suggests using homeless people as rickshaw-style drivers. He said they couldn’t make that episode today, and few would disagree.

SEINFELD -- "The Blood" Episode 4 -- Pictured: (l-r) Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer, Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld (Photo by Joey Delvalle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Joey Delvalle/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Hollywood happily glamorizes professional assassins (take a bow, John Wick) but cringes at George Costanza noticing a teen girl’s chest. 

That captures woke culture to a T. It makes no sense.

We saw extreme attacks on comedy following the March 2020 death of George Floyd. Beloved shows like “The Golden Girls” and “30 Rock” memory-holed select episodes with visuals evoking blackface.

The former episode featured a beautician-style mud treatment, suggesting how extreme the comedy attacks were at the time.

The eighth and final season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” got overhauled following Floyd’s death. The sly show’s swan song genuflected to the BLM movement. Main character Jake, who adores being a cop, ditched police work for full-time parenting. 

Laugh riot, no?

Hilarious, R-rated comedies no longer flood the cineplex. Comedy titans like Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy and Seth Rogen now toil on the small screen or accept more serious roles.

Todd Phillips is not a household name, but he’s the comic director behind “The Hangover,” “Road Trip” and “Old School.”

He made the darkly serious “Joker” in 2019, explaining why he shifted from comedy to comic book fare to Vanity Fair.

“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture…There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore — I’ll tell you why, because all the f***ing funny guys are like, ‘F*** this s***, because I don’t want to offend you.’”

Will Ferrell took grief for 2015’s “Get Hard” for allegedly peddling racist jokes alongside co-star Kevin Hart, who is black. Why wasn’t Hart offended?

Amy Schumer got pummeled by the woke Left for both “Snatched” (2015) and “I Feel Pretty” (2018) for similarly “problematic” content. She hasn’t led a movie comedy since.

And if you don’t believe Seinfeld, what about Mel Brooks? The maestro behind “The Producers,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” insists over and again that the latter couldn’t be made today. Does anyone disagree? The revered western satire skewers racism at every turn by turning the “n-word” on its users. If you’d like to watch it again on Max, be ready for an explainer/trigger warning.

Actor Mel Brooks (left) sits on the floor beside Harvey Korman as Cleavon Little kneels atop a desk, in a still from the film, 'Blazing Saddles,' directed by Mel Brooks, 1974. (Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images)

Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images

Comedy always works best that way.

Brooks doesn’t excoriate the Left while explaining why his classic comedy wouldn’t be possible now. He just acknowledges the new abnormal, and we all nod in agreement.

Seinfeld’s complaint rings inarguably true, but it could have a short shelf life. Rebel comedians like Tim Dillon, Shane Gillis and Ryan Long are on the rise, and the recent Tom Brady roast on Netflix spent several days as one of the platform’s most viewed TV shows or specials.

And no comedian apologized or lost work for telling those cruel, cutting jokes.

Maybe comedy is on the comeback trail. If so, its resurgence only strengthens Seinfeld’s point.

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