Jerry Seinfeld, O2, London
A welcome return, and life doesn't suck for the faithful
Saturday 04 June 2011
Fans of Seinfeld may recall that the sitcom's few English characters were uniformly insufferable. Despite the spectacular DVD sales figures, its creator still seems surprised by the size of the crowd he can attract in this country.
"I never made a show for British audiences" he recently told an interviewer. "It's like the cats watching the famous cook make a meal for a very elegant dinner party, and then waiting for them to throw it all in the garbage, and then the cat gets to enjoy this fabulous gourmet meal. It wasn't made for the cat but the cat is going to have a fantastic evening."
Were I one of the 22,000 or so punters who had paid for tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld at the O2 (rather than one of the lucky hacks who got in for free) then I might frankly be a bit miffed. Not only did the cheapest seat in the house cost a whopping £70, but the claim that this would be Seinfeld's first UK gig in 30 years turned out to be unfounded: the comic made an unannounced appearance at a £20 Comedy Store show in Piccadilly Circus earlier in the week.
If it's any consultation, these are just the sort of miniature irritations of modern life that make up the bulk of his comedy material.
Stand-up was Seinfeld's first love, as is clear from the 2002 documentary Comedian, in which he returned to live performance after several years as a wealthy retiree and found it came a lot less naturally than he had hoped.
Painful to watch in places, it was a portrait of a man who would probably still prefer to be playing basement clubs than 23,000 seat arenas.
Still, here we all are, and if he was unnerved by the sight of the crowd, it doesn't show. His shtick is familiar, his act far from groundbreaking, but Seinfeld can still render a room full of people (however large) helpless with laughter.
The material betrays some new preoccupations: he's been married and had children since he was last here so there are gags about nappy changing and bridal magazines.
He casts his curmudgeonly eye over Twitter and doesn't like what he sees.
"Why say a lot of things to a few people, when I can say nothing to everyone?"
He opens by telling the crowd that they only turned up in order to convince themselves that their lives don't suck. "I saw Seinfeld last night, you'll say, my life does not suck."
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