Seinfeld snubs harp, lays on the laughs

June 20, 1994|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Staff Writer

He came. He saw. And he was laughed right out of town.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld didn't tell a single joke during his Saturday night performance at Baltimore's Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

True to the form he displays not only on the hit television show "Seinfeld," but also when he does the late-night TV talk show circuit, Mr. Seinfeld relied solely on his observations of the small inanities we all commit -- or are subjected to -- every day.

Not surprisingly, he left the nattily attired crowd, who had spent upward of $50 for tickets to the Save-A-Heart foundation's annual benefit, rolling. The only things missing were Kramer bashing through the door or George trying to force someone to like him.

In fact, the evening was pretty much of a success all around. During introductory remarks, Save-A-Heart Foundation officials announced that the sellout benefit netted a record $300,000 for the organization.

Looking pretty natty himself in a gray suit and black-and-white striped tie, Mr. Seinfeld opened by assuring his audience that the Meyerhoff was probably "the nicest place I've been to." Befitting the occasion, he opened with a five-minute monologue on our obsession with "going out" -- "You're spending all this money just to sit in a different chair," he explained, eyes widening for emphasis -- then spent the next hour-plus taking people's minds off the 100-plus-degree heat they'd survived that day.

He scratched his head about movie theater food, wondering why it always comes in such huge portions ("You ever seen anybody buy that horse-bucket size of popcorn?") and observing that nowhere else is candy treated so royally ("You know you're spending a lot for candy when you see it in a glass case.").

He insisted that there is no such thing as an event or place that's "fun for the whole family . . . There are no massage parlors with ice cream and free jewelry."

And he suggested that Americans may be a little too obsessed with coffee: "There are coffee machines we have to call Mister."

Mostly, though, he just made people laugh, frequently at themselves. Some of the material seemed fresh; some touched on themes he used before. But judging by the crowd response, no one was complaining.

Mr. Seinfeld even touched on current events, speculating that the millions of Americans watching the O. J. Simpson saga unfold Friday night proved we'll watch anything on television. "We're all watching O. J. in a car, just driving," he said. "It's just a car doing 48 miles per hour."

And he poked some gentle fun at whoever decorated the stage for his show. Walking over to a harp, piano and drum set that had been placed near the back, he stared at them a moment and asked: "Why are these instruments here? Do they not know what I do?"

The comedian ended his appearance by asking for questions from the audience, through which Baltimoreans learned some vital information:

* He thought the best "Seinfeld" episode was the one in which George pretended to be a marine biologist.

* He's not married, although he was engaged once -- without any intention of getting married: "If you're engaged and you don't want to get married, it's a little intense," he observed.

* If he wasn't a comedian, he'd be "some sort of tree, I guess."

* He is not master of his domain: "I came in second in that particular contest."

Then it was off the stage and out of the Meyerhoff, as Mr. Seinfeld did the vogue thing for visitors to Baltimore these days: He caught the last couple innings of Saturday's Orioles game.

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