Jerry Before Seinfeld begins streaming on Netflix on September 19.
Is Jerry Seinfeld still relevant? Netflix seems to think so. Back in January the streaming service signed a major deal with the legendary stand-up comic that includes moving his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee from Crackle. The pact also includes two new comedy specials, the first of which, Jerry Before Seinfeld, focuses on the start of Jerry’s long career.
The hour-long routine was recorded at the Comic Strip in NYC, the club that helped launch Seinfeld to fame. There’s some great stuff here; plenty of the fantastic observational comedy he’s known for. My favorite bit was towards the end, when Seinfeld suggests “plot subtitles” should be available in movie theaters. He also performs some of the first jokes he ever told on stage back in the 70s.
Unfortunately, the comedy is interrupted regularly by interview pieces at Jerry’s childhood home and other important places in his life. In theory, this never-before-seen material – including a library of legal pads with every joke he’s written since 1975 – could work, but the potential is wasted. Viewers don’t get to see the written jokes themselves, just that they exist. We don’t need childhood videos of Seinfeld running around. More comedy would be ideal.
For those who need a break from the innuendo-heavy and profanity-laced anecdotes airing nightly on Comedy Central, look no further. Those looking for some nostalgia should give this a try as well.
I give Jerry Before Seinfeld a B.