Jerry Seinfeld Lists 'Seinfeld’ Jokes He Couldn’t Do Today


Jerry Seinfeld talked about the changing climate of comedy and some gags he could no longer get away with on his iconic NBC comedy.

In an interview with The New Yorker, the 70-year-old comedian criticized “P.C.” culture for hurting comedy and cited some examples.

“[In decades past, people] just expected there’ll be some funny stuff we can watch on TV tonight,” Seinfeld said. “Well, guess what — where is it? This is the result of the extreme left and P.C. crap, and people worrying so much about offending other people. Now they’re going to see stand-up comics because we are not policed by anyone. The audience polices us. We know when we’re off track. We know instantly and we adjust to it instantly. But when you write a script and it goes into four or five different hands, committees, groups — ‘Here’s our thought about this joke.’ Well, that’s the end of your comedy.”

Seinfeld noted his Seinfeld co-creator, 76-year-old Larry David, was able to get away some edgy content on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm by virtue of being “grandfathered in.” But he argued that some of those same jokes wouldn’t fly if David was younger and trying to create a new comedy series.

“We did an episode of [Seinfeld] where Kramer decides to start a business of having homeless people pull rickshaws because, as he says, ‘They’re outside anyway,’” Seinfeld said. “Do you think I could get that episode on the air today? … We would write a different joke with Kramer and the rickshaw today. We wouldn’t do that joke. We’d come up with another joke.”

Seinfeld continues: “If Larry was 35, he couldn’t get away with watermelon stuff and Palestinian chicken … and HBO knows that’s what people come here for, but they’re not smart enough to figure out, ‘How do we do this now? Do we take the heat, or just not be funny?’ And what they’ve decided to be is, ‘Well, we’re not going to do comedies anymore.’ There were no sitcoms picked up on the fall season of all four networks. Not one. No new sitcoms.”

To Seinfeld’s point, the live comedy circuit is indeed booming (one study coming out of the pandemic found a 127 percent increase in comedy touring from 2019 to 2022). There are also more stand-up specials finding distribution in recent years than ever before (Netflix alone has aired more than 350 comedy specials in the past 10 years). So it’s probably accurate to say the popular comedy landscape has shifted from movies and scripted comedies to comedy podcasts and stand-up, both in-person and as recorded specials.

Seinfeld added that he thinks cultural sensitivity is “slightly” decreasing.

“I see a slight movement,” he said. “With certain comedians now, people are having fun with them stepping over the line and us all laughing about it. But, again, it’s the stand-ups that really have the freedom to do it because no one else gets the blame if it doesn’t go down well. He or she can take all the blame themself.”



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