Jerry Seinfeld likes to think of his hit Netflix series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” as his personal “art project.” As creator, executive producer and star, Seinfeld has full jurisdiction over the show, which for him often means choosing to have no jurisdiction at all, letting each episode unfold naturally with each guest, local cafe and tricked out ride.
Seinfeld continued his laissez faire approach into Season 10, which premieres on Netflix July 6 and features some of the comedian’s favorite guests so far, including Zach Galifianakis, Dave Chappelle and the late Jerry Lewis.
What are you most excited for viewers to see in Season 10?
The fun thing about doing this show, is every guest that walks on the show completely changes the entire show. There is no similarity between the time I spent with Zach Galifianakis and the time I spent with Jerry Lewis or Alec Baldwin. The guest, the place and the car — the entire context of the show — is so different. Obviously, I’m the only element that gets repeated, and what I like is I get to just go with that when it becomes something different — like Zach Galifianakis and I walking by a donut shop, and we just kind of said, “Gee, we’re both in the mood for a donut,” and then we walked in there, and I said, “Let’s just do the whole show right here,” and we did.
What challenges did you come across while filming the latest season?
This group went pretty smoothly. With Dave Chapelle, we had a Citroen Maserati that let us down on the way back, and I just ended up walking the streets of Georgetown and D.C., but it doesn’t really matter. I enjoy walking or driving or sitting with comedians.
Were there any elements you wanted to change or improve for Season 10?
I play a lot with my little opening segment about the car. We did a thing where I pretended I was in “Jurassic Park” with the Zach Galifianakis-[Volkswagen]-thing, and I took a knife and tore my shirt to shreds and came stumbling out of the woods as if I had just fought with a dinosaur. And I got into a description of the Cadillac Allante that Brian Regan and I drive in about the kind of person. When I look at a car, I see it as a person. I know the kind of person that would like that car, and I try to communicate that at the top of the show.
How much of the show do you write beforehand?
There’s no writing. It’s completely improvised. We have no scripts. We have no keyboards — never did. Never had a script for the show.
With some of your guests, it seems like you could go on chatting forever. How do you decide what ends up on the cutting room floor and what makes it into the episode?
The whole idea of the show is I take all the air out of the conversation. When you see someone on a regular talk show, it can be like six minutes until they get to the first funny story. On my show, it’s right away. It’s completely my personal taste of what I think is funny or interesting.
You’ve managed to get some pretty high profile people on the show. How do you go about securing guests who don’t usually do interviews?
I think people are attracted to the idea that I’m not looking to elevate myself in any way with this show. I’m doing this as a gigantic art project for me. I’m already well-known. It’s not about money. It’s not about exposure. It’s just an art project with cans of Play-Doh, and I think people know that. I don’t want to plug anything. I’m not trying to help your career. I don’t want you to help my career. Let’s just do this for the pure thing of it.
You filmed an episode with Jerry Lewis, who recently passed away. What impact did his death have on you?
Just being with him brought back lots of memories. He was one of those people that, as a child, I was obsessed with and got me so excited about being funny. I felt his energy, and it just drew me to it like the sun, like I had to move toward the sun.
Much of comedy these days seems to be leaning toward the political, but your show so far has stayed pretty evergreen. Why do you choose to stray from politics on the show?
I find comedy to be the most difficult thing to do — to just be funny without any other tricks or gimmicks — and I’m just attracted to that challenge. I think political comedy is great — I think any comedy is great — but my personal love is the pure joke, the pure great joke that’s funny even if you hear it in 10 years.