I don’t typically review standup specials unless there’s something unique about them. With that being said, I did want to throw a review of Jerry Before Seinfeld at you because it is of course, unique in addition to being entertaining and funny.
What’s different about it is that the special isn’t just some stand up act that’s been recorded at a big theater or club, it’s more of a retrospective performance of Seinfeld’s history. That history is about what his career was like prior to the behemoth that became the Seinfeld TV show. This isn’t about TV, it’s about how he got started from his first night at an open mic while still living with his parents to how his path led him to appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this special is that the material he uses isn’t new, it’s the jokes that span his history from his first night on stage to the 80’s. It’s the material over the course of those years that brought him to Carson. It’s fun to watch especially since the performance is recorded on the same stage that started it all at The Comic Strip in New York.
Seinfeld interjects himself in the midst of the stage act in smaller segments explaining some of the more prominent historical moments of his career. Among the points explored is his obsession with the craft which is compelling. There’s a point where they have a shot of Jerry with the notes he took over the years, when the shot pulls out, there’s an entire street that’s filled with pasted pieces of paper to show the volume of his ideas over the years. It’s really impressive. I have some notebooks like that but nothing that comes close to this level.
If you’re a fan of his, or even just comedy in general I suggest checking this out on Netflix.
reviewed by Sean McKnight