We’re highly familiar with Jerry Seinfeld, the single guy who lived across from a zany neighbor and helped solve the every day traumas of his neurotic companions.
We’ve recently met Jerry Seinfeld, the incredibly famous funnyman who rides in fancy cars with other highly notable comedians on the way to do something very average, like grab a cup of coffee.
But underneath both men, there’s always been Jerry Seinfeld, the stand-up comedian.
He’s the one that started each episode in the early years of that network TV hit that’s established its place in the Sitcom Hall of Fame. He’s the one that fuels the stories told over a cup of Joe with a familiar face in the same field.
And he’s the one that went on tour, did comedy specials and sold out multiple nights in a single city.
But with such constant reminders of the two more visible Jerry Seinfeld’s, it’s easy to forget the original.
That is, until you see him live on stage.
In a packed house Thursday night at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, the comedian reminded us where it all started — and where his now famous brand of comedy originated.
His somewhat genius dissection of human interaction and observational humor occasionally leaves you questioning how he does it. He pinpoints emotions or reactions we all feel, and yet never externalize. He finds the similarities we all can relate to and puts them on the table.
Seinfeld kicked off the first of a three-night stop in Minneapolis by turning the tables on a familiar intro. When most comedians may begin with stories of how they got into town, Seinfeld dissected the impressive feats the audience likely had to achieve in order to get into their seat on a cold, windy January evening.
From purchasing the tickets and the immediate regret often felt when coordination between multiple parties is introduced, to the way every couple can dread the pressure-heavy word of being “ready.” And of course, that’s all dependent on the simple assumption that we’ve remembered the date of the show, several months after we planned for it.
When all things are considered, he said, it truly takes a lot of effort to simply go from sitting in one chair to sitting in a chair that required tickets.
“My job is to slightly distract you while you sit in a different chair,” he said to kick off the show.
The 59-year-old comedian said he loves coming to Minneapolis and that he “doesn’t say that every place I go.”
He shared fond memories of performing to our Minnesota Nice when he was just starting out … a mere 35+ years ago. He mentioned the Guthrie Theater as one of the first theaters he ever performed in and remarked on the beauty of the Orpheum’s venue.
But before loving on our fine state too much, he launched into a touring pet peeve — the recommendations for restaurants that are just so great, he has to try them.
In the same breath of admitting, for him, he’d much rather dine at an establishment boasting “not bad” cuisine, he slid right into a highly eye-opening observation that the descriptions “sucks” and “great” are an ever-so-slight degree away from being one and the same.
“You go to the baseball game. You have a hot dog. The hot dog’s cold, the bun’s not toasted, the vendor’s an ex-con on a work release program. You don’t care. You love that hot dog every time. Does it suck? Yes. Is it great? Yes,” he said. “That’s how close they are.”
Not convinced? He offers his conclusive evidence — say you happen to drop the ice cream off your cone and it hits the pavement. That sucks. So what do you say? “Great.”
Of course, he’s also updated his classic material — instead of jokes about answering machines, he analyzes our unhealthy obsession of cell phones. The text-crazed world that we live in and the fact that we’ve become paranoid about who may be trying to call us for an actual human conversation.
The phone rings. “Nobody move. Who the hell is 5-1-3?”
He poked fun at the postal service and its modest attempts to stay afloat by raising the cost of a stamp up another penny.
“Just make it a dollar. If you have money leftover, get yourself some pants and a real car,” he said.
And he hit on the material that hits home — his personal life, his 14-year marriage and three kids. He talked about the ways parenting has changed (“You know what my bedtime story was growing up? Darkness.”) and he acknowledged the never-ending game show lighting round that wives often put their husbands through (“I’ll take details from a conversation that we had at three in the morning eight months ago for $500.”)
He completed his set with an approximate 30-second wait for the encore, returning on stage with a hop and a skip after a quick disappearance behind the curtain.
“I was just over there,” he said, to the encore applause.
At this point, and as he’s done in the past as a way of saying thanks to his loyal fans and their years of support, Seinfeld finished the evening with an informal Q&A — one that led audience members to shout random commands like “potato chips” and “airplane peanuts.” And of course, the inevitable question surrounding his TV nemesis, Newman.
“I hate Newman,” he said, to the audience’s delight.
After a photo recently surfaced of Seinfeld and Jason Alexander (George Costanza) outside of the landmark spot of the Seinfeld series, Tom’s Restaurant, the most common question he got was surrounding the rumors that he’s doing a Super Bowl commercial.
“Yeah, that’s the rumor going around,” he said. “And it’ll stay a rumor.”
We’ll have to wait and see if Jerry Seinfeld, the single guy, and his neurotic companions will be making a return to TV. Until then, we’re more than happy with Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian.
Jerry Seinfeld will perform Friday and Saturday at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. A limited amount of tickets are still available. For more information about the shows or to buy tickets, click here.