Jerry Before Seinfeld: The Comic is As Funny As Ever in Netflix Special

Jerry Seinfeld in Jerry Before Seinfeld. Courtesy of Netflix.

Jerry Seinfeld is as funny and observant as ever in Jerry Before Seinfeld, his first stand-up comedy special for Netflix.

Before Jerry Seinfeld hit national fame by way of his appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on May 6, 1981, he could be seen performing in comedy clubs.  Jerry Before Seinfeld takes the comic back to The Comic Strip, where he first started performing in the mid-1970s.  It’s a change of pace from what we’re used to seeing with Seinfeld as he’s usually seen touring and performing comedy in larger venues.  Its because of the setting, however, that Seinfeld’s stand-up set feels so relaxed.

The set is mixed in with documentary-style footage including home videos of the comedian when he was a child..  Seinfeld shows off a huge library of legal pads and when laid on the ground next to each other, it takes up a large chunk of ground.  These are the jokes that Seinfeld has seen get a positive reception for the comedian dating all the way back to 1975.

Growing up, Seinfeld owned every comedy album that he could get his hands on.  The MAD magazines “exploded” his head.  It’s probably no different than other comedians who were coming of age around the same time.

On learning of the comedy club scene and clubs like The Comic Strip in New York City in the 1970s: “Oh, I want to be in that world.  I don’t want to be in the real world.”

While the Brooklyn native had loved comedy but he didn’t plan on making it his career.  I wonder how that worked out for him?  During the 1970s, he was living in a small apartment.

In footage, he’s shown talking with comedians Mark Schiff and Jimmy Brogan about spending all of their time at the comedy clubs back in the day.  For Brogan, it was like “high school without the school part.”  Schiff simply says “it was amazing.”  As for Seinfeld, he described them as being “the high school football team.”

The comedian went over a lot of material in a one hour frame but it’s closer to 45 minutes as far as the set.  One bit goes over the differences between trains, taxis, and Uber and the jokes are perfectly executed.  One joke references appetites and how it’s different for adults than it is for a child growing up.  There are jokes about LGA and how the mayor may have reacted when he learned they were naming LGA after him.

Seinfeld went over series of perfectly executed jokes about sports teams and because we’re ultimately “rooting for laundry,” these jokes segue into jokes on laundry.  The laundry machine is “a nightclub for clothing.”

Of course, this wouldn’t feel like a true Seinfeld special without a reference to Superman.  The prop books are book-ended on both sides by Superman.  It’s not normally on stage at The Comic Strip but he added it for the show.

It wouldn’t be a Netflix comedy special without breaking the fourth wall by addressing viewers watching about their binge-watching habits.

Among the art forms, stand up comics have to connect their audience because of how personal their shows are.  Seinfeld addresses topic and uses it to segue into a discussion about how some movies can be so confusing.  This leads to some interesting observations that–again–only Seinfeld could provide.  I’m a film critic with a background in improv/sketch comedy and Seinfeld’s thoughts are something I’ve never even considered before!

Jerry Before Seinfeld will stream exclusively on Netflix starting September 19, 2017.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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