Do you have a neighbor that constantly bursts into your apartment? Does he constantly eat your food and comment on your everyday life? What do you and your friends talk about? Would you consider that “nothing”? When I think about “nothing” that pretty much includes everything. It appears Jerry Seinfeld agrees with me.
Jerry Seinfeld leapt from performing in nightly comedy shows into international fame when his show premiered in 1990. It was on every week for nine years. When the show was on I don’t remember watching it constantly. Now that it is on almost any channel on any time you please in syndication, I believe that I am just about all caught up.
As with most things in my life, Seinfeld being no exception, I have found myself finding more and more references to what I am thinking about and what topic I am writing about next. Since I have had this in mind for a couple of weeks, I have had it on the brain. I have found myself uttering at least once a day: “did you see that episode of Seinfeld where that happened”? It doesn’t matter the topic but I feel that in any conversation there is an episode funny, sad, serious, whatever, that perfectly captures whatever you are talking about.
It was with this in mind that fate dealt me an unbelievable hand. I had been given a Ticketmaster gift card last Christmas and was saving it for a special show. I usually use it during the New York Comedy Festival in November. But I didn’t get that far. In July it was announced that Jerry Seinfeld would be returning for a special limited five show tour. It would be the first time he was returning to the stage since he retired all his old material and stopped performing fourteen years ago, in 1998. This new tour would feature one show in each borough. According to Jerry: "I was born in Brooklyn, went to school in Queens and started out as a comedian in Manhattan. I feel like New York City taught me how to be funny".
When a show is going to be this rare and once in a lifetime event, tickets are going to sell out fast. You know that ahead of time. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing two weeks in advance that you will have to start dialing fifteen minutes before the sale starts and then pray you get through at the right moment and strike ticket gold. But this time I didn’t have to worry about such troubles. I had decided to see Jerry’s show at the Beacon Theater, a place I have frequented several times for the aforementioned comedy festival. The best part about that is something sent from the heavens called the “the pre-sale code”. I can hear the angels humming now. With this gift I was able to purchase my ticket four days before they went on sale to the public and use my gift card. Two birds, one stone equals success. My soul did a happy dance.
If you had asked me prior to this experience if I ever wanted to see Jerry Seinfeld perform I probably wouldn’t have said yes. Certainly not yes with such enthusiasm as I had once I learned I would now be going. Part of this was that I had recently seen the documentary “Comedian” featuring Jerry’s road back to being a comedian after a career on television. It was one of the best I have ever seen. It was honest, gripping, and made you think about the other side of the entertainers we know and love.
The second piece that led me to this choice was undoubtedly the once in a lifetime factor. I normally am more of a Bill Maher, political, serious, comedy fan, then that of the light hearted kind. But I choose to put my money this year to a different type of event. I knew it would be incredible and that tourists were coming from all over the country to see it. I wasn’t about to miss seeing Jerry Seinfeld in my own backyard especially if I wasn’t going to get another chance.
As I approached the theater on the big night, I saw in lights the confirmation that I made the right decision. There on the screen in capital letters it read “Jerry Seinfeld Tonight Sold Out”. It’s amazing how comforting those words can be when you have your ticket in your hand. It is like being home warm and cozy during a terrible storm.
I got on line and I saw many people approaching the box office still trying in vain to get tickets despite the sign in bright lights. Of course they were not successful. What is great about the Beacon Theater is the level of organization and professionalism. It was like I was in another state. I love my hometown but I think every New Yorker can agree that friendly and helpful staff that had the event in control from the moment the doors opened does not welcome most arenas constantly. This would be true until I left. I was even told to have a good night and to get home safe. It is this kind of service that puts the cherry on top of an already amazing evening.
Once I was in my seat, drinking from my cap less water (don’t get me started on why I can never be trusted to have a cap on any water I spend over five dollars on), and eating my Reese’s Pieces, I was completely in my element. Despite having a crappy day prior to this moment, I had a smile on my face. I was eager for the show to begin and just looking around taking it all in. Then suddenly I began to hear the music that was playing. It began clear and I began to suddenly laugh to myself. It was “Fly Me to the Moon” and just as I focused in on it I heard “let me play among the stars”. I felt like it was my song for the night since that what I was doing at the moment and meant to do in my life.
With each classic song I heard it kept getting better and better. I heard “Luck Be a Lady” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”. I felt all my creative juices following. I think it was also because I was wearing my necklace that says, “write”.
The only real down side to this night were my seats. They were high up on the balcony and although they were perfectly fine (I don’t mind looking down) and comfortable, I do not like that the few steps nearest to my section do not have a railing. It makes me nervous and as a migraine patient also dizzy. It is a bad combination especially when you are on the end and have to stand up to let people get to their seats. My goal is to be able to afford seats closer to the ground that don't make me crawl or shake in my boots. This will happen one day slowly but surely. But once the lights went down and the show began I didn’t have time to worry about falling anymore.
Colin Quinn opened up the show. He has been on Saturday Night Live and also is a famous comedian in his own right. I saw him perform many years ago at a comedy club in the village. He was hysterical. More recently he performed a one-man show on Broadway, “Long Story Short”, that was filmed for HBO, which coincidentally Jerry Seinfeld directed (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/04/for-intriguing-story-of-justice.html).I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would but he was hysterical this night.
After only about maybe ten or fifteen minutes Colin was all done and literally two seconds later Jerry was running to the front of the stage! I didn’t expect him to come out that fast but he did. He looked great. All dressed up in a nice suit and tie. And I swear on my life from that moment to the moment I got up to leave I was screaming in laughter. There was maybe a five-minute period where I just smiled in silence. Other than that I was dying with sidesplitting laughter. I can’t even tell you exactly what he said. I know that the following two days I had his voice and impressions in my head. I know that he talked about his life, career, and family. I know that he supposedly talked about “nothing”.
It made me think. Our everyday experiences and lives are so full of universal experiences that these thoughts and jokes should be occurring to all of us. Even if they do they are not funny I guarantee it. I tried repeating the lines, they fall flat, but in my head I am laughing. This man is a genius, pure and simple. I am as sure of that as I am that the Pope is Catholic. I have never seen a more brilliant mind at work. I have never seen a better show and I don’t think any comedic experience will ever compare. How could it? This was not about anything serious. This was based on, um, well, you know.
I was so wowed off my feet I knew instantly when it was over that I hope he comes back again soon, that these five shows wouldn’t be enough. At the end he got a standing ovation and it gave me chills. The Beacon Theater is a big place and it feels even bigger when you have seats that see the entire place on their feet cheering and clapping. The energy was so high and happy. Jerry felt it too. He came back out and said thank you. He said he had always dreamed of performing here and that it was a rare thing for a comedian to get a standing ovation. With that, he took some questions from the audience.
Earlier in the evening there were two women talking in front of me. I didn’t catch what they were saying except that they laughed and said, “not that there is anything wrong with that”! Ah, Seinfeld show’s signature catch phrase. Turns out there isn’t anything wrong with shows about nothing either. Shows that are on TV now I don’t get and if I like them they are canceled. I long for the days of good programming which is why most of what I watch are shows that have been off the air for many years.
As if it was serendipity the song playing when I walked out was “The Way You Look Tonight”. It was more the way I felt tonight but I will take what I can get.
On my commute home I started to think of what I had to do next. I couldn’t think of anything. It dawned on me that my events folder was empty! I felt a sadness I cannot explain. Then I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. At least my birthday and Christmas are right around the corner. Hopefully this will be a good hint for those who are buying me gifts.
Just as I had these thoughts I received an email from Ticketmaster informing me of events that will be coming to my area. So the dance begins again.
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