Review: Jerry Seinfeld – 23 Hours to Kill, Netflix

Review: Jerry Seinfeld – 23 Hours to Kill, Netflix

Jerry Seinfeld arrives for his latest Netflix special by helicopter and beats the New York traffic by jumping out and landing in the water. It's a) pretty impressive for a 65-year-old stand-up comedian and b) probably the riskiest thing in this special.

You don't go to Seinfeld for artistic envelope-pushing or taboo-busting. You go for solid, concentrated comedy about our human foibles with not a word wasted. And that's pretty much what you get here. Nothing less, but nothing more.

Some of the material, filmed at the Beacon Theatre, is similar to his last London appearance in 2019. He starts with some unexpectedly topical material on how much the audience has achieved by getting out of the house and coming to the theatre. It has an eerie echo of Micky Flanagan's "out out" riff, although Seinfeld's version is a little bleaker. Once out the next thought, he jokes, is "I gotta be getting back".

As he quickly hits his stride he does what he does best, using that increasingly agitated adenoidal whine to explore the things in life that get his goat, from hot dogs to pop tarts to "device dictatorship" – the way we panic as soon as we can't find our phones because we've put them in a different pocket.

The set starts to coast a little when he gets onto his personal material. Talking about his age he says he is happier than ever because he is now so old he can "just say no" to things without giving a reason. Though he looks forward to his seventies when he won't even have to say no, he can just shrug and walk on. 

His men v women material is sharply sold if not entirely original. And at times it feels downright old school. He is hardly the first stand-up to suggest that a woman can remember a trivial aside from years ago and pull it out of her argument armoury exactly when required. It's a cliched, dated trope, as are some of his further thoughts on getting through marriage.

He is on safer McIntyre-esque ground with his broader, less political observational material, such as complaining about air conditioning in cars or wondering why public toilet doors have a gap at the bottom.

The result is a show from a consummate performer that's so slick it is hard not to smile most of the time. Under closer scrutiny though I'm not sure if it would bear repeated viewing. And I wonder how much of the set would be considered hackwork if delivered by a lesser comic in a club. But as we don't have the chance to watch lesser comics in clubs at the moment we might as well enjoy Seinfeld.

Jerry Seinfeld – 23 Hours to Kill, Netflix

Picture: Netflix


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