Seinfeld finds humor everywhere he looks Review: Want to know what's really on this guy's mind? Check out his new comedy album. You'd better like to laugh out loud.

October 06, 1998|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SUN STAFF

Jerry Seinfeld may have starred in the show about "nothing," but the guy notices everything.

Razor blade dispensers in airplane bathrooms, the abundance of consonants in New York cabbies' names ...

These are just a couple of the random details the former sitcom sultan addresses in his CD, "I'm Telling You For the Last Time."

The CD is a recording of the live stand-up act the cereal-obsessed comedian performed on Broadway shortly after "Seinfeld" went off the air.

It's clear from the material that Seinfeld's eyes and mind are working constantly. And while it might make for a neurotic nightmare of an existence, it also makes for great humor.

After all, the seminal and successful "Seinfeld" was a comedy of the most minute of manners; a TV show that devoted unprecedented amounts of airtime to being wrongly accused of nose-picking or a chip-dipping faux pas.

Seinfeld shared those adventures in banality with Elaine, George and Kramer. But this time out, he's on his own.

And, with more than an hour of savvy, helium-voiced, "What's the deal with?" observations, he doesn't disappoint.

It's not edgy. This isn't the razor-sharp social satire of Chris Rock. But it's not the homogenized, All-American repertoire of Tim Allen either.

Seinfeld's stand-up is of the rare brand that can milk the mainstream, while still maintaining a wickedly wry, literate tone.

In Seinfeld's hands, the stuff of potential Catskills cliches and white-bread blandness are rescued by inspired wordplay and insight.

Particularly dazzling is his ability to make even the most reluctant of listeners think "I can relate to that," even if they would rather not.

Face the fact that drinking milk after the expiration date makes you cringe. Don't pretend you've never puzzled over the existence of the Luge as an Olympic event, or its existence in general. And please admit that you continued trick-or-treating into adolescence no matter how dehumanizing it became.

He takes material as hackneyed as N.Y. cabdrivers and infuses it with fresh frustration. Even airplane humor, the yawn-inducing, shticky staple of nomadic comedians, soars to new hyper-sensitive heights.

One of his bits starts with the premise that kids like candy.

Thanks for the tip, Jer.

But just wait. You'll be treated to a tale of the Halloween ritual described in fitfully funny, painfully true detail.

From the cheap plastic masks with the rubber bands that end up digging into your face by the end of the night, to the disgust with cheap generic sweets and the pursuit of "name" candy, Seinfeld conveys innocence without mush and cynicism, and without a mean spirit.

Like a "Seinfeld" episode, an undercurrent of benign befuddlement with conventional authority and behavior runs through his act.

What's the deal with pharmacists? Do they just make up the ingredients in medicine because they know we have no idea?

But unlike a "Seinfeld" episode, where all the zany subplots somehow came together at the end, there's no real cohesiveness to his on-stage antics.

And he even makes this into material. For instance, he jumps from the differences between men and women to a totally unrelated bit about Chinese people, with a self-mocking, "As long as we're on the topic."

Some bits are ten minutes, others are two. He's not one to arbitrarily stretch or condense material to fit a format.

He's also not one to defend the male species.

"I could tell you the truth if you want to know what men are really thinking. Would you like to know?" he asks.

"Nothing," he answers. "We're not thinking anything. We're just walking around, looking around."

But if they're looking around as much as the manically observant Jerry Seinfeld, they're probably not real men.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Pub Date: 10/06/98

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