TV Review: “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

Jerry Seinfeld’s hit web series drives into and parks at comedy’s newest hot lot, Netflix.

Everyone’s favorite sneaker-sporting comedian has brought comedians, cars, and coffee over to Netflix with his hit show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Jerry Seinfeld has amalgamated three loveable entities to create four seasons of comic entertainment — now all simultaneously available via the internet’s most popular streaming service.

The “show about nothing” has a new design. Seinfeld’s mastery of the art of the mundane has taken shape in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” and the series has moved from Crackle to Netflix. Fancy cars and regular guest stars have joined Seinfeld’s comedic equation, but the Seinfeldian schtick remains: The legendary comedian belabors everything from cupholders to rye bread with charm and a New York Jewish sensibility.

The show’s overarching orchestration is generated by its format and post-production. The sequence of events is simple: Seinfeld introduces a carefully selected automobile with some allegorical connection to his guest, a staged phone call inviting said guest out for coffee follows, the guest gets in the car, and the two exchange laughs over coffee in a semi-interview style. Jazz music and cinematic shots of latte art imbue the series with a coffeehouse ambiance — or “mood,” as Seinfeld would have it. Some episodes are thoughtfully edited to include animations and archival TV clips either discussed or imagined in conversation.

There’s a warmth that permeates the show, and it’s not from the coffee (though perhaps accentuated by it). Despite his cynical obsessions with minutiae, Seinfeld’s good-naturedness makes his material relatable rather than superficial, and consequently prevents the show from potential alienation in an era grappling with bigger problems than one-click ordering on Amazon. Seinfeld proves the infectious pleasure of watching other people laugh is a timeless phenomenon.

Especially fun to watch is the way in which Seinfeld’s brand of observational comedy affects his guests. The charismatic host is able to galvanize his fellow comedians into indulging in his fixation with seeming trivialities. A generally enthusiastic Jimmy Fallon discusses the futility of Raisin Bran’s campaign to improve a definitively unpleasant food by adding more raisins. Alec Baldwin riffs on the implications of a Slip ‘N Slide. The celebrity guests engage in moments of true Seinfeld dialogue.

Filled with uninhibited snorts, giggles, chortles, and guffaws, the show is an ode to humor and laughter itself. One of the series’s highlights is an episode with Larry David in which Seinfeld and David reminisce about their mutual laziness during the “Seinfeld” days over coffee and herbal tea, respectively. The comedians discuss the allure of a hot beverage, cigarettes versus cigars, and the characteristics of briefs and boxer-briefs. And then there’s the episode’s holy grail: the unexcitable Larry David doing a real-life spit take. The comedic chemistry between the two and their uncontrollable laughter is what makes the show so appealing.

Host to a rapidly growing number of comedy specials, Netflix has become the designated comedy club of the digital age. Comedians including Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, and Jim Gaffigan have signed deals with the streaming service. Seinfeld has already done a stand-up special. Though it lacks the quintessential live audience, Netflix offers comedy a critical accessibility — a quality capitalized on in Seinfeld’s conversational comedy. “Seinfeld” may have run its course, but in the age of Netflix, Seinfeld is here to stay.

Grade: A
Runs: Full Season Available on Netflix
Starring: Jerry Seinfeld
Created By: Jerry Seinfeld

Image Courtesy of Netflix

5 thoughts on “TV Review: “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

  1. This show is a total ripoff of the UK internet show “Carpool” hosted by comedic actor Robert Llewellyn.

  2. Wow, this series really surprised me. Several comedians brought their ‘A’ game with what appeared to be natural responses to Jerry’s insightful observations and anecdotes. Favorites: Garry Shandling, Louis C.K., Michael Richards, Leno, Rickles, Mel Brooks (just watching his food binging made me laugh), and of course the Bob Einstein episode with follow on tribute to his dad. Jerry’s quick wit and seemingly natural biting responses brought out the best in most guests. He also shows a very touching concern for his fellow comedians and in particular those that have overcome struggles or tragedy. Only Jerry could ‘tap into’ the ‘raw, unfiltered’ life and routine of a stand-up comic.

  3. My wife convinced me to watch this show, which I was avoiding as a gimmicky idea. I carefully avoided the segments with some people I cannot stand to listen to or see; but that still leaves plenty of others. The format is infective and enjoyable. The production is seamless and unobtrusive. Some of the guests come off as egotistic and shallow, others hardly speak and are not interesting. One woman kept calling herself a WASP, she was not interesting. Through it all Jerry reveals himself as the perfect host, picking up on his guests comedic fixations and elaborating on them. Jerry is fantastic. I have watched some segments 3 times. Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner is the most revealing and enjoyable, a classic. Jim Carrey is a dud. Larry David was perfectly enjoyable and thoughtful. Steve Martin seemed tired. One of my most favorite programs, an unexpected treat.

  4. Well I suppose I am the “Johnny come Lately” to this site. Only to say, thank you so much for this series. Being in Jerry’s age bracket, (63) and having worked as a fornign auto mechanic for 10 years, and haveing a ’66 Chevelle 396 be my dream car, it is heartwarming to see and here the cars of my youth rev up and the laughter inside them. Cars were like our own little home away from home. We could be on our own, and feel so adult im them. Love in them, Cry in them. Thanks Jerry. It is 1-16-18 today, and I have been binging on your show. Thanks again Kevin

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