What’s The Deal With Jerry Seinfeld, Am I Right?

Yesterday, we saw our latest comedy battle in the mythical war between the phantom “PC Police” (not a real police force) and “Rich Old White Baby Boomer Comedian with God Complex.” A recurring changeling who manifests himself in different forms, yesterday’s iteration was airplane food joker in emeritus, Jerry Seinfeld. When asked in an interview whether he performs at colleges, he answered ESPN’s Colin Cowherd “I don’t play colleges…I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.” Yes, because Seinfeld’s jokes were so racy (?!)

He went on to say “[The younger generation] just want to use these words,” Seinfeld said. “‘That’s racist, that’s sexist, that’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what they’re talking about.”

Congratulations, Jerry! You are dead. In my book, when an old-ish person starts wagging their fingers at the younger generation, you are officially a donezo obsolete bag o’ bones (Trigger Warning: Ageism). In fact, I think that is the very definition of old. It’s laughable that Boomers are at the point where they’re becoming the finger waggers now, since they were such deviants from their parents’ generation. Ah, how sweet the sound of predictability. I aspire to be the cool old lady who cheers on the college kids and their wacky ways.

In addition to Seinfeld’s garbage, he also creepily insulted his daughter to prove a point. This is another weird passive aggressive Boomer tactic whereby you use your children for some manipulative self-fulfilling prophecy of their children’s failure:

“My wife says to her, ‘Well, you know, in the next couple years, I think maybe you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.’ You know what my daughter says? She says, ‘That’s sexist.’ They just want to use these words. ‘That’s racist.’ ‘That’s sexist.’ ‘That’s prejudiced.’ They don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.”

It’s sexist to assume that she is going to the city only in order to cavort with men. It’s reducing her to someone who only does things because of her relation to men. It could also have been a passive slut-shaming statement from her mom – or at least their daughter could have seen it that way – hence her reaction. But again, Seinfeld is flippantly using his daughter to prove his point which is super shitty and gross. It wasn’t funny either. I am not critiquing his comedy everyone settle down! (Slight derail/confession: I still love and watch The Seinfeld Show reruns on TBS and will until the end of time, it is possible to be critical of a person and still love someone’s art).

Meanwhile, slews of (yet again, white and male) comedians protected their millionaire icon, concurring with the off-base PC comment, as though the world is now a gestapo run internment camp of social justice Heinrich Himmlers. Here’s a thought: it isn’t.

Remember the Daniel Tosh debacle? When he actually broke character and posited gang rape at an audience member? Shit didn’t get him fired. He’s still alive and well, making millions on Comedy Central. Remember the Trevor Noah shit? Same thing. He is still bound for The Daily Show. Remember #CancelColbert? Yeah, Colbert will soon be making MEGA millions replacing Letterman. There are virtually no consequences and comedy is actually literally fine – if not more so since the internet is such a vast platform. YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL.

Comedy is huge right now, there is more space than ever for so many different people. I see more women, people of color and other marginalized groups getting successful along with hoards of white dudes. Also, hey white man– if you are funny then you deserve it!

Our changing world and changing outlook is extremely exciting to me both as a (female) performer and a writer. I am very bored with those who choose to stay in the dark past when it comes to the cultural landscape. Imagine if painting stayed back there, we would all still be staring at boring-ass Byzantine Jesuses.

Art evolves with its surrounding culture and it can be a wonderful thing. If you work hard, if you seek out knowledge and humor in this changing world, you will be successful — I truly believe that. No one is really censoring and the outrage machine is not going to hurt you unless you are a totally dumb shit of a comedian. It could also be that maybe, we as a collective, have changed what we find entertaining and funny. Every generation does. Some old comedy does NOT age well. Take black face for example! That is not used by comedians anymore and for good reason, wouldn’t you agree? Are you mad about that, bro? So it could be a combo of that. I find that usually, the comedians who are wildly protective of their racist and sexist jokes are only so because they are bad jokes and they are fearful and defensive of them.

Personally, I also see a lot of balanced discussion, not so much rage necessarily. Any “rage” that is there is usually justified critique and anger at seriously flawed material. Critique does not a gestapo-run-thought-camp make. I have seen bloggers who go on uninformed rants spouting off like idiotic pundits instead of understanding what comedy is about, and the comedians who are baseless in their offensive material are usually unfunny.

I feel as though it always goes both ways. I see the universe sorting itself out – nothing is really being “threatened” in any tangible way. Part of the history of art in the world is also civil discussion. I hope we can move toward that end. But I will not be a comedian who supports blatant discriminatory practices. It’s all a balancing act.

And so, it seems the tides are changing and inclusive well thought-out comedy is becoming more popular. Could it be that more open-minded folk who care about their audience’s race and gender are funnier? Because the reality is, that many of us do not have the luxury to ignore race and gender, and we must confront it, play with it and honor it. Making it “go away” is an impossible task and Seinfeld should fucking know better but he doesn’t. Also, the (college) children are our future, you are not.

NYC Comedian Rae Sanni is consistently funny and summed up the conundrum perfectly:

Perhaps many of the younger people consuming comedy today prefer smarter, more nuanced material. The baseless “offensive” punching down low brow crap isn’t cutting it as much. If you feel threatened by your material being seen as wrong, you may need to reexamine your material, and not blame the audience (that is literally comedy 101).

But guess what? If you want to see super dumb offensive comedy, it’s still available too – Andrew Dice Clay is still performing for example. Go hog wild! Eat your heart out and fly to Vegas to see ole Dicey treat women like sacks of tit meat. OR check out his show on Showtime. He is still totally around for your pleasure. Go live your life.