Letterman’s interview of Seinfeld at the Paley Center for Media in New York was a promo for Seinfeld’s digital series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which runs on Sony Pictures Television’s Crackle digital network.
Seinfeld told Letterman — who next year will retire as host of CBS’s “The Late Show” after 21 years — that he had the idea for the unscripted comedy show designed for the Internet before he knew it would actually work. Seinfeld claimed he disregarded digital experts who told him nobody would watch a web series with clips longer than five minutes. Moreover, the freedom from format constraints and TV network execs were key to its genesis.
“The idea of the show, honestly, was to try and create something that fit a whole new medium,” Seinfeld said, adding, “This is an anti-show about a nonevent.”
The idea of getting the guests into cars was critical, he said: “I think part of what makes the show watchable is, it’s moving… You need kinetic energy.”
Seinfeld confessed that he can only make “Comedians in Cars” work with people he can relate to, a “weird, subset Pekinese breed of human” — i.e., other comedians: “Anybody who is a little normal, even a normal actor or actress, I’m lost.” Whereupon Letterman cracked, “You just described 30 years of my life.”
Letterman appeared with Seinfeld in season two of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” last year. Seinfeld credited Dave’s appearance with helping establish the web series. “You were the biggest get,” he told Letterman. “The fact that you did the show made it something people paid attention to.”
Season four of “Comedians in Cars” debuts June 19, with the first episode featuring Sarah Jessica Parker. Seinfeld said the way the show is constructed, the humor comes out of the unplanned, spontaneous situations — not from scripted jokes.
Asked about guests he’d like to get on “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” Seinfeld acknowledged that he’s invited Woody Allen on the show, but hasn’t heard back. “I don’t like to bother people,” he said, explaining that he hasn’t followed up with Allen.
In April, Sony announced that it will add four more seasons of show, for 24 new episodes, taking the series through season nine. The series is sponsored exclusively by Acura.
Since its debut in July 2012, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” has been viewed more than 40 million times. Seinfeld is exec producer of the show, which is produced by SPT’s Embassy Row.
Seinfeld revealed to Letterman that “Comedians in Cars” costs in the neighborhood of $100,000 per episode to produce. Letterman wanted to know — was that compared with, say, $1 million per episode for “Seinfeld”? Responded an incredulous Seinfeld: “In the end, you couldn’t get Jerry Stiller for a million.”
Asked about his first car, Seinfeld said it was a ’73 Fiat 128 sports coup when he was 20 (“Nobody on Long Island had a European car,” he said). Letterman’s first car was a rusted-out Volkswagen bug, but “the first car I loved was a BMW 320i.”
Watch an extended trailer of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” season four, with guests that also include Aziz Ansari, Robert Klein, Jon Stewart and George Wallace: