by Josh Gross
It’s been a few years since legendary comic Jerry Seinfeld performed in Boise. And he opened his act at The Morrison Center on May 17 with his observations on how it has changed since his last visit.
“Boise is getting cool,” he pandered to a near-capacity crowd. “You all have drinks and phones.”
After that, he spent nearly a half hour dissecting the various types of breakfast foods.
“When I was a kid and they introduced the Pop Tart, it nearly blew my brain out the back of my head,” Seinfeld said. “Back then, all we had was toast.”
Seinfeld is from another era, and I don’t mean the 1990s. The longtime comic’s act is the sort that is rooted in the classic style before Lenny Bruce came along and smashed comedy into a thousand little sub-genres. Seinfeld wore a trim blue suit and stood in front of his signature red curtain, his only on-stage companion a stool and a bottle of water. The closest thing to a swear word that came from his mouth was when he said cookies should be called “chocolate sons of bitches.”
Several years after the finale of his sitcom, Seinfeld made the decision to toss out all the material he had accumulated over decades of doing stand-up and to start from scratch. His material at The Morrison Center was a good cross-section of contemporary, yet classic issues, though it betrayed hints of the comic curmudgeon sneaking in at the corners.
“Coffee used to be 10 minutes in the middle of the work day, now it’s 10 minutes of work and eight hours of coffee,” Seinfeld said of energy drinks.
“Marriage is like a game of chess, but the board is made of flowing water and the pieces are made of smoke,” he said.
“I just hope I live long enough to see them turn 50,” he said of the Facebook generation. “Because the moment you blow out the candles on your 50th birthday cake, you immediately think: The less people in my life, the better.”
There’s an old joke that comedy is all about the delivery, and if you want to learn how to do it, don’t go to college, just get a job at Domino's. It’s true. Seinfeld’s book, Seinlanguage, is painfully unfunny. But Seinfeld’s delivery is as smooth as it ever has been; he never stutters or babbles and there was nary an “um” in the whole act.
The only drawback is that part of the fun of comedy is the back-and-forth that develops between comic and audience. But in a room as big as the Morrison Center, there is little crowd work or rejiggering, the comic simply plows ahead with well-rehearsed material.
After the conclusion of his set, Seinfeld tossed the smoothly rehearsed script aside and stuck around to take a few questions from the audience, like will he please shoot another episode of the show.
“Why would you want that?” he fired back. “Just so you can say, ‘Wow, they got old!’”
Then the evening’s closer: “Did you ever sleep with Elaine?” someone shouted from the balcony.
He grinned a sly grin and let the awkwardness sit for a moment.
“No, because I’m not that stupid,” he eventually said. “Here I have this TV show, why would I go and mess that up by screwing my co-workers?”
Seinfeld went out on top and made the choice to go back to the bottom and work his way back to the top again. Viva la old school.