Dave Chappelle’s 16-show residency at Radio City Music Hall has been advertised as featuring appearances by some of your favorite artists, but that hasn’t removed the intrigue involving who Chappelle will feature as his special guests. On Wednesday night, during a four-hour, guest-filled show we were lucky to attend, Chappelle made it one to remember when he introduced Jerry Seinfeld. “Every comedian comes back to stand-up,” Chappelle says. “You are now rocking with the best — Jerry Seinfeld!”
Seinfeld, coming out to a rapturous response, began his set by congratulating Chappelle’s efforts in gathering all these talented people together during his New York takeover. Chappelle, who is enjoying another career renaissance, has the clout to call in some favors. He succeeded in getting a comedy legend to “work for free,” as Seinfeld graciously pointed out.
For Seinfeld fans, the evening felt like an appropriate teaser to his new hour-long special, Jerry Before Seinfeld, premiering on Netflix on September 19. Seinfeld, who is now 63, has years of wisdom under his belt, using his observational comedy to dissect everyday life and how nobody likes anything. The material hit close to home for the audience, whether he was riffing about how much work it is to go out to our dependence on our phones.
Funnily enough, our phones were placed in pouches — locked away so we wouldn’t be able to use them. That meant no Instagram, no Twitter, no Snapchat, no videos — a millennial’s torture. Seinfeld went into a diatribe about how we must keep track of two lives — ours and our phone’s battery life. Then, in almost taunting us, he pulls out his own phone to access some unread text messages.
Some of his material touched on his age. He loved growing up in the ’60s because his routine consisting of Cookie Crisp for breakfast, eating a lot of bacon, and smoking cigarettes. He can’t wait to live through his seventies so he can “brush things off and not be nice to people.” He also mentioned that awkward moment when he curved Kesha for trying to give him a hug. “I like her, I just don’t like to hug,” he says, doubling down on his previous explanation.
Other physical bits worked well for Seinfeld, who combined his experience with timing and body language with his familiar high-pitched whine. The best moments came when he tried to establish a personal connection with native New Yorkers. It’s a well-known fact that living anywhere outside the city means more space and comfort. However, Seinfeld believes we want to be crammed together so we are able to overanalyze each other. In terms of travel, commuting anywhere in the city can be a pain, but it’s our use of “in vs. on” that Seinfeld can’t get over. Some truthful examples in linguistics I jotted down: “We go out in the city. We live on Staten Island. We get in the cab to go on the subway. We take an Uber.”
At times, some of the jokes touched on familiar stand-up topics, but the audience didn’t seem to mind. We can all agree that bathroom stalls are absurd and they should be reconstructed to be more private. Going to the movies is definitely overpriced, so yes, we should leave our garbage in the theaters as a courtesy. Whoever made Pop-Tarts — two pastries for two slots in the toaster — is a genius, but Seinfeld couldn’t help to mention their nutritional value, comparing it to the actual box they are packaged in. “They can’t go stale, because they were never fresh,” he says.
Seinfeld didn’t miss a beat. His wit, charm, and subtle remarks are as sharp as ever. Any time comedians returns to their roots, you can almost feel the love they have for the art form. Last night, we witnessed something magical.