Comedians and Musicians: Jerry Seinfeld Is Closing In
It's a little unusual that I write comedy for a living, since my heart lies in the music business. I always use the following two people to describe it: If Jerry Seinfeld walked into a room I was in, I would be more than happy to see him. I would consider meeting him to be a true honor and I would be quite impressed.
But if Eric Clapton walked in? That would be a mind-blower. I just can't get as excited about Lenny Bruce as I can about Ray Charles. It's just a different level of being impressed. I was always much more amazed by the Beatles than the Marx Brothers. That's just me, and I completely get those people who see comedy as the ultimate.
In fact, I have begun changing a little. I now think meeting Jerry Seinfeld would be at least half as amazing as meeting Eric Clapton, and that's way up. This is what I was pondering tonight as I watched an HBO show that presented Jerry with an award. By the way, you can't understand how great Seinfeld is till you see him do a show. Forget the sit-com or a 6-minute spot on Letterman. If you see him do his act, you will know why many say he's the best standup of our generation. In fact, there were a lot of parallels to seeing a great musician - something I didn't understand watching him on TV.
The other comedians onstage at this award ceremony were Gary Shandling, Chris Rock, and Robert Klein. Incidentally, I have met Robert Klein before and he's the perfect way to describe this difference. You know what really knocked me out about Robert Klein's act? His musical ability. He can really sing in a way I envied and admired. Of course, he's a legendary comedian, but that part I knew.
So what's changed? As I get older and begin thinking more about death, I have begun seeing the value of comedians with new eyes. It's a noble struggle between the unavoidable seriousness of life, and that ability to laugh. It's easy to giggle about something when you're in 6th grade, but to see the humor in things even after life has delivered some crushing blows? That is a brilliant gift. In short, what comedians do, impresses me more with each passing year.
For example, when they gave Jerry Seinfeld the award, he said, "Your whole career as a comedian is about making fun of pretentious, high-minded, self-congratulatory, B.S. events like this one. The whole feeling in this room of reverence and honoring, is the exact opposite of everything I have wanted my life to be about."
Isn't that a beautiful acceptance speech? Now, don't get me wrong. I'd still rather meet Eric Clapton, but Jerry Seinfeld is closing in.