Jerry Seinfeld usually steers clear of politics and controversial issues, but on Friday night at the New Yorker Festival the comic addressed Bill Cosby post-sexual assault allegations for the second time in as many weeks.
In a 90-minute conversation with New Yorker editor David Remnick, Seinfeld reevaluated the comments he made regarding Cosby on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” last week.
“I kind of thought that I would separate comedy from life, because so many comedians have horrible lives, and they’re oftentimes people you don’t admire, or they’re not likable,” he explained to the crowd at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. “And I didn’t want that to ruin my appreciation of their comedy. But I had to admit, as [Stephen Colbert and I] discussed it, the more I thought about it, I couldn’t listen to [Cosby’s work] and enjoy it in the same way that I did before, and I was not able to separate it. So the wall kind of caved in.”
During his appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Seinfeld said that Cosby has “the greatest body of work” in comedy. Colbert, however, revealed that he can longer listen to Cosby despite the comedian playing an integral role in his childhood because he “can’t separate” Cosby from the allegations. At the time, Seinfeld indicated he did not feel the same way.
Seinfeld also expressed disappointment in another comedy giant, Jerry Lewis, who died in August at 91. He said he was “depressed” by the news that Lewis cut his children out of his will. But in true Seinfeld style, the comedian quickly pivoted from the morose topic with a joke: “If you knew everything about everyone, you wouldn’t like anyone.”
After revealing that he had recently connected with his former co-star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, about her breast cancer diagnosis, the comedian explained why he stays apolitical on stage.
“It’s not my style,” he explained. “I like to invent a new way of looking at something that changes the way we look at it permanently.”
He cited a joke about prepositions. “You don’t live in Long Island; you live on Long Island. You live in the city.”
He went on to make fun on Trump’s “happy face” and addressed an audience question about Breitbart chief Steve Bannon’s stake in “Seinfeld,” which has made the former Trump chief strategist quite a bit of money.
“There are dozens and dozens of investors and people that you never meet or know about,” said Seinfeld, who also stated he has never met Bannon. “These are giant, multi-national corporations of, you know, NBC, which then became Turner, and then got bought by Comcast, so I mean, I don’t know.”
As for “Seinfeld” being a show about nothing, the comic shook his head and said, “Everything is about nothing!”