Pick a situation in life—any situation—it doesn't matter which: There is an episode of Seinfeld that addresses its inherent frustration and absurdity.
The long-running sitcom is a crucial part of our mythology because it speaks so effectively to the American experience, one of bizarre social obligations and existential decisions with no correct answer.
But before there was Seinfeld the character, there was Seinfeld the stand-up comedian, a man who was ranked in the Top 12 of Comedy Central's greatest stand-ups of all time.
The reason why he ranked so high goes deeper than just Seinfeld's jokes. The 2002 documentary Comedian explored his decision to throw away all the material he had accumulated since he began stand-up in the late 1970s and start from scratch. It was a window into the head of a man with a deep reverence and respect for the craft of making people chuckle who is constantly dedicated to self-improvement.
The portrait was made all the more poignant because the film also examined the career of up-and-coming comedian Orny Adams, whose caustic complaints and cynicism about his career, the audience and the world in general stood in stark contrast to Seinfeld's nearly zen focus on how to craft a joke.
In one scene, Adams questions Seinfeld about how he can possibly explain to his parents that after dedicating many years of his life to comedy, he still isn't rich and famous. Seinfeld, seemingly puzzled by Adams, offers an anecdote about a traveling band caught outdoors in winter weather, which happens across a window that reveals a Norman Rockewell-eqsue family inside, all dressed up and gathered around the fireplace.
"How can people live like that?" one of the bedraggled musicians says.
Adams nods and chuckles, but he doesn't seem to get it.
Seinfeld is in it for the game, not the results. And that's what makes him one of the greats.
He will perform at the Morrison Center Thursday, May 17. Tickets are available at the box office, all Select-A-Seat outlets or online at idahotickets.com.