Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Really?" Yeah, Jerry Seinfeld Really Was Funny

So, I just finished watching a Saturday Night Live Weekend Update bit called "Really? with Seth and Jerry," featuring SNL Update regular Seth Meyers and sitcom legend Jerry Seinfeld.

I can't link to it because it's not online yet, obviously--it just finished maybe two minutes ago. But it was funny, which surprised me. Why? Well, I wasn't surprised that one of the players was funny. It was the other one I worried about.

New Hampshire's own Seth Meyers is reliably hilarious on SNL, but's the deal. Seinfeld the TV show was genius. It was brilliant. It was epic. It was live-changing, revolutionary. But Larry David--whose own show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, is more crude than Seinfeld but is side-splitting nevertheless--was the real creative force behind the Seinfeld sitcom.

And, let's face it, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards (the latter sadly now best known for his, well, let's just say impulse-control problems) were the acting muscle behind the Seinfeld program. Jerry was often a straight man, and Elaine was quirky, but George and Kramer made Seinfeld. Well, along with the incredible cast of characters that surrounded them. Jerry was obviously responsible for a lot of that but certainly not for all of it. Probably not even for most of it, actually.

And Jerry has had a bit of a rough run since Seinfeld ended more than a decade ago. Oh, he's not hurting for money. But his short-lived Microsoft advertising campaign with Bill Gates struggled to even approach mediocrity, and that whole Bee Movie thing--while, to be fair, I didn't actually see it--looked absolutely miserable. Add that to the fact that Jerry's stand-up act was never all that funny to begin with, and Jerry Seinfeld was starting to look like a spectacularly bright flash in the pan.

Then there's The Marriage Ref, a program so painful that I got through about the first seven minutes of it the only time I tried to watch it and genuinely wanted to pluck my eyes out with a melon baller--which I didn't do, of course, because that wouldn't have solved the equally grave problem of having to hear The Marriage Ref. I changed the channel instead.

Needless to say, I have lost some faith in the great Jerry Seinfeld over the last 12 years or so. His show made him a legend--and rightfully so. But he might not be the great entertainer I thought he was. That jury is still out. Tonight, though, live, on a show with decidedly hit-or-miss writing (although it's usually good for Weekend Update), Jerry Seinfeld was funny. Really funny. Funny like old times funny.

Somehow, that makes me feel better about entertainment in general and about comedy in particular. Ditch The Marriage Ref, Jerry, and just be one of those funny guys who shows up on TV once in a while...actually being funny, the way you were tonight. It's a role that suits you well. You've earned it. And Seth Meyers--keep up the good work, you Granite State legend.

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