Jerry Seinfeld still remembers the feeling when he got his first laughs.
“Once I had a taste, that I could get a laugh, I did not care what happened next,” the comedian said.
The initial audience was three of Seinfeld’s college friends and the successful bit about being left-handed gave the young performer enough confidence to venture from Queens into Manhattan and try his act in New York City comedy clubs.
He has been a regular on those club stages ever since.
“I am so madly in love with New York City,”“I didn’t know how to be and in New York they’d say, ‘This is how you do, this is what to do. Here’s how to be. Be cranky and be loud and be funny and complain and suffer. And make fun of everything and everybody. That’s how you be.'”
In August, Seinfeld’s reverence for the Big Apple led him to write a New York Times op-ed defending the city after a local comedy club owner claimed it would not bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seinfeld told 60 Minutes correspondent Jon Wertheim this week that he wrote the piece because he does not want “New Yorkism” to die.
“I didn’t like that nobody was rebutting it. Then I realized, ‘Oh, I guess that’s my job.’ Somebody, a real New Yorker has to answer this,” Seinfeld said.
The essay is not the only thing that Seinfeld has penned during the pandemic. He has written some new jokes too.
It is unclear when he will be able to perform them on stage. For now, future material lives as dried ink on his trusted yellow legal pads.
Seinfeld told Wertheim he misses performing, but noted he has been on stage nearly for nearly his entire adult life.
When the curtain does rise again, the comic told 60 Minutes he intends to try-out his new material at New York City’s Gotham Comedy Club, then take the act uptown to the Beacon Theatre, before heading to Las Vegas. The comic holds the desert entertainment mecca in high regard.
“I’ve been playing Caesar’s in Vegas for 20 years, the big room, filling up that room for 20 years,” Seinfeld said to Wertheim. “I’m more proud of that than anything. That’s people saying we trust that you know what you’re doing, the audience. And that is the only approval I seek.”
At age 66, longevity is a trait Seinfeld values. He said he is prouder of the TV show that bears his name in 2020, than when he was actively working on it due to its modern-day relevance 22 years after the series finale.
“Seinfeld” the series has made more money in syndication than any other comedy in history, and for at least some of its loyal followers remains part of their daily routine.
As for his daily regimen, Jerry Seinfeld said it has not changed much since the pandemic began. He still drinks coffee, exercises, and writes jokes. He has been sheltering with his wife Jessica and their three teenage children.
A success in her own right, Jessica Seinfeld created Good+ in 2001, a foundation that works to address multi-generational poverty by pairing essential goods with social services with low-income fathers, mothers and caregivers.
Good+ partners with close to 75 anti-poverty programs across the country to supply items like cribs, strollers and diapers to parents who enroll in job training, GED classes and relationship counseling.
Their lines of work are very different, but Jerry said the standard for comedy in the Seinfeld household remains high.
“If someone tells a funny story at dinner and it doesn’t get a laugh, you’re going to hear about it,” Seinfeld said.
The video above was produced by Keith Zubrow and Sarah Shafer Prediger. It was edited by Sarah Shafer Prediger.