Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is a web show created by Jerry Seinfeld in 2012.
It is a show about exactly what the title says: two comedians who drive somewhere and have some coffee. Like Seinfeld’s humor itself, it is this lack of extraneous material that helps it to rise above the ocean of funny videos on the Internet.
And like the “Seinfeld” show of the 1990s, we know that it won’t last forever. Rather than wait for the end to do our “best of” blog post, we’re going to get ahead of this thing and name our favorites right now. It’s possible that a better episode will emerge, but with season 7 opening with President Barack Obama, we sense that we’ve hit a high point.
[Editor’s Note: We’re going to leave a place here for Will Ferrell, whom we’re sure will be fantastic. Just throw him somewhere in the mix]
Barack Obama – As Seinfeld himself notes, this is the coolest president we’ve ever had. Our favorite line is Obama muttering as Seinfeld shows up, “I’ve got some things to do.”
As is his wont, Seinfeld focuses on the details—how many brands of underwear the president wears, who lays out his suits, how many global leaders are insane, if it’s possible to get a good night’s sleep—and the President is remarkably candid in his answers. No doubt it helps that he’s near the end of his time in office.
Stephen Colbert – This is a mish-mash of sorts as it’s clear that Colbert is a warm, emotionally present person, and Jerry is Jerry. When Colbert quotes a Neutral Milk Hotel lyric, Jerry responds by pretend-sobbing. Colbert’s inner dad comes out as he chides his 61-year-old friend, (“Okay, Jerry.”)
Nonetheless, seeing these two masters of humor at play is a rare opportunity. Although Seinfeld is clearly exhausted by the wellspring of life that is Stephen Colbert, we think they both enjoyed it.
Fred Armisen – Armisen is one weird guy. He’s clearly a reflector who gains energy by mirroring his conversational partner, which is eerily similar to Seinfeld’s character in the 1990s show. In this episode, however, Seinfeld becomes the dominant talker with Armisen taking ideas into odd, but complementary directions.
After they’ve filmed enough for an episode, Seinfeld gives Armisen an out in case he’d like to leave. Armisen’s reply—that he has cleared out all day and evening for this and is enjoying it immensely—is delivered with such sincerity that Seinfeld—and we—were somewhat taken aback. What’s going on in that noggin of yours, Fred?
Seth Meyers – It took us more than one viewing to like this one. Seth is a banal guy who likes laughing and has a talent for knowing who the funny people are in life. Although not an especially funny person himself, he’s good at telling stories about other funny people that always makes them the hero.
We speculate that this demure self-minimization is what will make him a good late night host. It works in this episode—even though he’s supposed to be the guest—and might be the only time in the series that Seinfeld switches places.
Joel Hodgson – We love Joel because it’s clear that he and Seinfeld have an old relationship. They bring out the little boy in each other, and we were struck by how innocent and 9-year-oldish they became.
At one point Seinfeld cracks up over something that Joel says and Joel laughs too, asking in a small voice, “What are you laughing about?” In a regular adult’s voice, that question would be laced with insecurity and self-awareness. In Joel’s voice, you feel like you’re watching two boys playing with toy soldiers in a tent.
Alec Baldwin – As Baldwin speaks, we note his memory for lines, his talent at mimicry, and his ability to use questions to great effect. Call us crazy, but in another lifetime this man would have been one of the world’s greatest journalists.
Instead, he chose to pursue fame and fortune as an actor and turned out to be a comedian, mainly because his intelligence got in the way of his career. Although he gets stuck a bit too long in “acting” mode, he’s a terrific partner for Seinfeld. Also, we agree that Mercedes-Benz SLs are for people who are hip, but will not be placing their mattresses on the floor.
Michael Richards – This is perhaps most profound episode of CICGC. Everyone remembers how Richards cracked up in a comedy club a few years ago, having a tantrum and using ill language. He begins this episode afraid of the public by bringing a kit of disguises for himself, and has trouble remembering the past with Jerry.
As they talk, it’s clear that Richards mind is in no way diminished. Like many great comics, his interests are philosophy, game theory, and paradigms. With the right venue he could still become one of the great living comics.
The beautiful part of this episode is in the end when Richards takes off the disguises and allows himself to be with people. Simple background music adorns shots of him and Seinfeld entertaining people and posing for photos. The camera cuts to the two of the in the car together, at peace, just two buddies.
It’s the only episode that actually appears to do profound emotional work for one of the participants, and therefore rises above the level of mere entertainment. As the video fades we feel that we have witnessed something truly special.
Larry David – How could Larry David top that? Because this is Larry David, co-creator of the very show that allowed Jerry to fully embrace his powers. The two have a unique rapport that developed the most successful television show ever.
Unlike Obama, these two are unguarded around each other. Unlike Colbert, they are on the same emotional wavelength. Unlike Armisen, they are both sane. Unlike Meyers, they share the conversational load. Unlike Hodgson, they’re comfortable with the adult world. Unlike Baldwin, they both have nothing to prove, and unlike Richards, they are both at peace.
This is the first episode ever for CICGC, before it became a success, and when it was most true to its original premise: just two funny people taking a break to entertain each other. We think it’s the best episode of the series because it matches the perfect guest with the purest expression of the show’s intent.
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