Sunday, April 26, 2015

Seinfeld and Letterman, the dynamic duo

I could watch Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman banter for hours. Last night I caught up on Friday's episode of Late Show with David Letterman, which was basically two old friends chatting and making a farewell of sorts (though Seinfeld didn't voice it, many other recent guests have made the bittersweet observation that it would be their last time on the show because Letterman vacates the host's chair on May 20). Who knows, maybe Seinfeld will pop up on the last day.

That looming deadline prompted me to start watching Letterman again after many years of not bothering to tune in very often, even though he's my favorite talk show host (not that I'm very familiar with the others, it's just not a format I'm that into). I loved the show in high school and hold fond memories of staying up late to watch a guy who was funny and odd and cool. I couldn't stand to let it go gentle into that good night without raging against the dying of the light a little, so to speak, by catching some of the final episodes.

After an unexceptional stand-up set by Seinfeld (turns out it was the first routine he ever did on the show about 30 years ago, which explains why my husband kept saying it seemed dated), the two chatted comfortably like old pals. Seinfeld made a funny crack (I'm sure he made several, but this one struck me enough to jot it down) as the two talked about clowns (which sprang from talking about the circus, something they agreed still exists even though no one really likes it):

We all know somewhere underneath all that bright color there’s a man who’s not right. At some point he’s gotta wash his face, take in his pants and start dealing with life like the rest of us.

Imagine that in Seinfeld's voice, with his delivery. Good stuff. Seinfeld also took the interviewer's role, swapping seats with Letterman. For an interesting juxtaposition, check out the episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in which Letterman is the subject. In case you don't know, it's a really great and unique show on Crackle in which Seinfeld picks up a fellow comic to go for a little coffee and chat, driving a different vintage/cool/rare car each episode.

The interesting aspect of comparing these two interviews is Letterman's mood, if you will. He's looser and funnier on his own show, where he's in "work" mode, even though he makes it look like it's not work at all. And maybe also because he's the one in the driver's seat on Late Show. On Comedians in Cars, he was more serious. I think that's due to the more natural vibe of Seinfeld's show, where it's just two comics chatting, even if they are in a general work mode since a camera's rolling (but they're "working" to a much lesser degree than on a regular talk show with an audience). Which is to say, I'm guessing you get a more accurate glimpse of the "real" Letterman on Comedians in Cars; it's likely he's a bit more serious in real life that he seems on his talk show.

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