Jerry Seinfeld complains about ‘the extreme left & PC crap’ ruining comedy these days

Jerry Seinfeld has been promoting Unfrosted, a movie about Pop Tarts, in recent weeks. He was recently profiled by GQ, and he took a dump on the film industry, saying in part: “Film doesn’t occupy the pinnacle in the social, cultural hierarchy that it did for most of our lives.When a movie came out, if it was good, we all went to see it. We all discussed it. We quoted lines and scenes we liked. Now we’re walking through a fire hose of water, just trying to see.” I put that in the links last week and there was some debate. For what it’s worth, I think it’s true that the film industry has changed radically in the past 15-20 years, but all of the changes haven’t been bad. There’s more diversity across the board, more niche-market art being made and we’re living in a more stratified culture rather than the more homogenous pop culture of the 1990s. While Seinfeld might have been on the verge of making a decent point last week, this week he’s just an old man yelling at the politically correct youths.

Jerry Seinfeld said in an interview with The New Yorker while touting his feature directorial effort “Unfrosted” that “P.C. crap” and the “extreme left” is making television comedy go extinct. Seinfeld is a sitcom icon thanks to his eponymous NBC sitcom that ran between 1989 and 1998, but he says viewers no longer flock to their television sets in order to get their comedy fix like they did for decades.

“Nothing really affects comedy. People always need it. They need it so badly and they don’t get it,” Seinfeld said. “It used to be, you would go home at the end of the day, most people would go, ‘Oh, “Cheers” is on. Oh, “MASH” is on. Oh, “Mary Tyler Moore” is on. “All in the Family” is on.’ You just expected, ‘There’ll be some funny stuff we can watch on TV tonight.’ 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.”

Seinfeld noted that comedy fans are “now 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.”

“We did an episode of the [‘Seinfeld’] in the nineties where Kramer decides to start a business of having homeless people pull rickshaws because, as he says, ‘They’re outside anyway,’” he continued. “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. They move the gates like in the slalom. Culture—the gates are moving. Your job is to be agile and clever enough that, wherever they put the gates, I’m going to make the gate.”

Seinfeld went on to stress that it’s the “stand-ups” who “really have the freedom” to cross the line when it comes to comedy nowadays, further suggesting that television networks are no longer interested in doing anything that will ruffle feathers and offend the P.C. crowd.

[From Variety]

“Culture—the gates are moving. Your job is to be agile and clever enough that, wherever they put the gates, I’m going to make the gate.” Yes, that’s the point? Comedy evolves, the audience evolves, jokes evolve, and comedians need to move with the times so they aren’t spending the latter half of their careers doing “comedy” about how much young people suck because they don’t think it’s funny to make fun of gay folks anymore. I agree that there’s a real lack of network comedies these days, but again, that’s not the fault of comedy writers or, you know, the audience. At some point, networks just decided that game shows and singing competitions were more profitable and “safer.” Comedy writers fled to cable, premium cable and streaming. It should be said though, in the past two decades, there were some excellent network sitcoms – 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, The Office, Modern Family, Happy Endings. Streaming and cable widened the options – Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Archer, Ted Lasso, Hacks, It’s Always Sunny, etc.

Also, the idea that Seinfeld (the show) was, like, pushing the envelope or incredibly dangerous or ribald is just false – its comedy was mostly mining the banalities of life. “I can’t do the comedy I want to do because the audience will be offended!” You can literally make all of the offensive jokes you want and punch down as hard as you want. No one will stop you. There just won’t be an audience for it.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images.

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