seinfeld and rock -- 2/24/23
Today's selection -- from Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Book by Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry Seinfeld chats with Chris Rock in Seinfeld’s acclaimed series and book Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:
"Jerry: People don't understand that what makes a comedian funny is how serious he is.
Chris: That's a good one. That is absolutely [laughs] ... No truer words have been said.
Jerry: No person in the audience ever would think that. Yeah, you want a guy who's not fooling around. [laughs] This guy's serious.
Chris: This guy's serious. Jay Leno.
Jerry: [laughs] Yes. Very serious.
Chris: Jay Leno is serious about some jokes. Dave Letterman, serious about some jokes.
Jerry: So how's that all going to end, Chris? Leno and Letterman?
Chris: Leno and Letterman? That's ended. I mean, they had a little feud, which I still don't even understand. Jay Leno's the only man in the world ever been punished for wanting to work. [laughter] How dare he want The Tonight Show! What?
Jerry: Well, that was a funky thing there.
Chris: It's funky, yes, but it's not wrong for him to want it. There's nothing wrong with wanting it. We've all had children. They should aspire to get to the top of whatever field they decide to get into. They should not go, ‘Ooh, this guy deserves it more than me.’ They should try to get the job. So I like them both. I want Jay to work out his contract and retire on the show. I do not want them to fire Jay Leno. But, go on.
Jerry: I'm very interested in how people orchestrate their exits. Me and George Shapiro are always still upset about Michael Jordan playing for the Wizards those two years, that he didn't make that last shot his last shot.
Chris: Here's the thing, Jerry. We're only good at one thing. We don't know what it feels like to be good physically. We suck. And when you suck, you hit the shot and you run home. But when you’re great, you just keep beating people til you can’t fucking win.
Jerry: The Washington Wizards?
Chris: It was the Washington Wizards. But you know what? Now he knows. And does the Washington Wizards take away from him? Not at all.
Jerry: l disagree.
Chris: Doesn't take one thing away. Yes, would it have been nice to hit that shot and leave? Yeah.
Jerry: It's a beautiful career.
Chris: It's still a beautiful career.
Jerry: The last joke, Chris. You're telling me the last joke is not more important than every other joke?
Chris: The last joke is more important than every other joke. It's very important. But you ever see Richard Pryor: Live in Concert? Arguably the greatest stand-up special of all time.
Chris: Last joke's not that good.
Jerry: There's no subject you cannot handle. And that's true of most comedians. Most comedians have given some thought to almost everything.
Chris: We're professional arguers. Not only can we argue about anything, we can argue either side.
Jerry: It's true. Okay, so here's what I want to ask you. So you're a comedian. And Letterman was somewhat of a comedian. Never did a gig -- he had about twenty minutes.
Chris: But Letterman is one of these guys ... Letterman, I’ll even go, wasn't a good comedian.
Jerry: No, he wasn't, really.
Chris: But he's so funny.
Jerry: He's charming.
Chris: He's charming.
Jerry: Charming. Funny. Appealing.
Chris: Oh, he's funny!
Jerry: And really funny. Okay, so these guys, once they become comedians, well, then you've got to figure out what's the next place on the board I can get to. Right? Movies are very rare. Very few comedians do movies.
Chris: Very rare. I've struggled.
Jerry: Sitcoms, talk shows, that's about it.
Jerry: So that's why these guys ... I'm sure they don't want to work every day either, but that's the only option.
Chris: I guess in a weird way it's kind of like doing a sitcom for fifteen years.
Jerry: A talk show? No.
Chris: No? I guess not.
Chris: A sitcom, you've got to work a lot too. But not, you know, multicamera? No. Not that much.
Jerry: No, not if you have good writers, good cast. But I worked on my show every day. All day, every day. As you know.
Chris: Well, if you're going to be great ...
Jerry: Yeah. Well, you got to be single for that.
Chris: You can't be great on the side. Nothing great is done on the side.
Jerry: Right. But you can't tell me there's another career move those guys could have made than this, than the one they made.
Chris: Probably not. I mean, Conan was a big-time writer. One of the highest paid punch-up guys --
Jerry: There are no big-time writers, Chris.
Chris: There are big, million-dollar writers, Jerry.
Jerry: He was a Simpsons writer. That's not a big-time writer.
Chris: Conan O'Brien would demand lots of money to punch up scripts. Like, the go-to guy. Will still occasionally pick up half a million, whatever, here and there.
Jerry: Really? That's shocking news.
Chris: When I was on Saturday Night Live, Conan O'Brien was a writer on the show. And he was one of the funniest guys on the show. And I'm talking about a show with [Adam] Sandler, [Chris] Farley, [Mike] Myers, [Dennis] Miller, Phil Hartman. Conan could crack up a room as hard as any guy. Squeaky-clean. Now, you're clean, but off camera you can go any way. This guy, even off camera, squeaky-clean.
Jerry: Wow. "