Leave it to the guys who mastered “the show about nothing” to bring that sensibility to digital platforms.
Jerry Seinfeld’s new digital series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” premiered with his former “Seinfeld” creative partner Larry David as the guest on an interview program that positively luxuriates in its own formlessness.
As its title suggests, the conversation is split between a ride together in a car (in the premiere, a 1952 VW Bug) and a sitdown in a coffee shop (Los Angeles’ John O’ Groats on Pico Blvd.). But calling it a conversation implies some sense of coherence, a logical flow from point A to point B.
“Coffee” is more like dialogue as comedy jazz, and in Seinfeld and David we have two trumpeters who aren’t going to stick to the sheet music. It’s an overly edited pastiche of non-sequitirs skipping around from one mutual preoccupation to another, including cereal, free-range chicken and boxer briefs. Don’t expect a sustained dissection of the Greek debt crisis.
If you miss the minutiae that was the essence of “Seinfeld-ian” humor, “Coffee” will be manna. If you don’t, it’s not really all that funny, though stick around to the very end of the 13-plus minute premiere episode for an inspired bit on the difference between cigars and cigarettes.
But the problem isn’t entirely that “Coffee” isn’t particularly humorous. It’s that Seinfeld and David are constantly cracking each other up in this episode for no apparent reason. It’s nice to see two friends enjoying each other’s company but awill viewers enjoy their enjoyment? Not so much.
If anyone was expecting Seinfeld to hatch some brilliant new creation that was going to be digital entertainment’s long-sought-after sensation, “Coffee” ain’t it. If anything, the series seems an exercise in subverting expectations in its utter disregard for trying to be much of anything, though certainly fans of the A-listers that will join Seinfeld in future episodes will make sure “Coffee” at least isn’t ignored.
Better luck next episode, when Ricky Gervais is the guest.