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4:33 am
Thu June 13, 2013

From Seinfeld, A Second Season Of 'Coffee' Talk

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 11:01 am

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is exactly what it sounds like — a show about three things Jerry Seinfeld loves.

Each individual episode of the stand-up comic's Web series features him talking to a fellow comedian while driving across town to get a cup of coffee.

While the premise is simple enough, and the celebrity interview as familiar as any late-night talk-show, the format of C3 allows for a more relaxed and personal tone than the typical sofa-chat format.

"I know these people, and this is it — this is what they're really like," Seinfeld tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "You walk out on a talk show, you know, 'I'm on here for eight minutes; I want to make sure I tell a funny story or do an interesting anecdote.' You're not just going to be sitting there tapping a coffee stirrer on the table, but you can do that on this show. So nobody feels that pressure to perform, and I do feel like I am capturing their true demeanor and energy."

The series premiered last summer, featuring guests such as Larry David, Carl Reiner and the host's former Seinfeld co-star Michael Richards — as well as a variety of classic cars. Season 2 premieres today, and the comedian tells Wertheimer the series still feels like a personal outing with friends from the business.


Interview Highlights

On the simplicity of the show's premise

"It's simple to shoot, and we do spend a lot of time reducing what is sometimes a two- or three-hour experience down to what I feel is the juiciest 14 minutes of that. I think editing is one of the great luxuries. I think it's one of the things life really needs. If you bump into somebody at a cocktail party and you talk to them for 15 minutes, you can't say, 'You know, there was only five good minutes out of that. I wish I could get the other 10 back.' But on this show, we remove the 10 that didn't have much going on."

On matching the comedians with the cars

"Sarah [Silverman] to me is kinda feline: very smooth and seductive in her maneuvers. So the Jaguar reminded me of her. ... Especially the way she was dressed that day in those long blue bell-bottoms; she looked exactly like the car."

On the unique intensity of doing the show with comedians in cars and restaurants

"[Silverman started] telling me that she had an issue with depression as a teenager. This is not something that you [would be] chatting about in front of 400 people on the Tonight show; the No. 1 reason [being], unless you have a joke, you're not going into it. So we get to do that, and it really led to something funny because I interrupted her to get half-and-half instead of milk. ... Because I prefer half-and-half.

"Any normal person would have been so hurt and so offended — 'I'm telling you about one of the most painful moments of my life, and you're turning to find the waiter' — [but] because she's a comedian, she sees how funny that is ... in addition to how hurtful that was. So at the same time she's telling me, 'Really?' she registers both things. That is something only a comedian would do."

On the tone of the series

"I adore these people, all of them. They have been my life. When I talk to people about being a comedian, well, there's being a comedian — which is you go on stage, you perform, and it's a profession — but then there's this other life, which is you spend all your time around these people. And that has given me this Technicolor existence. This show is very personal because if I like them we'll have fun together, and if we have fun together, you'll have fun watching."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Jerry Seinfeld visited us a while back to talk about his love of coffee, a love he only developed in recent years. And that passion inspired an experimental talk show, where he adds two other things he loves: cars and comedians.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE")

JERRY SEINFELD: We're dying for some coffee.

SARAH SILVERMAN: Black coffee.

SETH MEYERS: (Unintelligible)

GADHAFI ELMALEH: I'm buying my coffee.

CHRIS ROCK: I'll take some coffee with cream.

DON RICKLES: I'm Sweet 'N Low.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You're not drinking coffee if you're not drinking it black. Don't you think?

SEINFELD: No, I don't think.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: But you like a monkey with it?

WERTHEIMER: The voices Sarah Silverman, Seth Meyers, Gad Elmaleh, Chris Rock, Don Rickles and David Letterman - they have all taken rides in the car to get a cup of coffee and chat with Jerry Seinfeld. They are the guests that will be featured in the new season of his Web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."

Jerry Seinfeld, welcome back to our program.

SEINFELD: Thank you, Linda. It's a pleasure to be here.

WERTHEIMER: Now, I gather that the premise of this Web show of yours is that you put together three things Jerry Seinfeld loves: cars, coffee and comedy.

SEINFELD: Yes, but it's also the subtraction of a lot of things I hate...

(LAUGHTER)

SEINFELD: ...is another key to this formula. I'm sure you've been on talk shows on TV.

WERTHEIMER: Mm-hmm.

SEINFELD: I am a veteran. And as much as I loved it and frankly made my career in the '80s, it's gotten to the point now where I felt it needed some - and I love using words like this - and I'm on NPR, I feel completely comfortable saying - a diminution. It needed to be reduced. It needed to be deconstructed. And that's a big thing the show does, is it removes a lot of the things that I think restrict interesting conversation.

WERTHEIMER: The program looks like it's very simple. I assume it's not as simple as it looks.

SEINFELD: It's simple to shoot. And we do spend a lot of time reducing what is sometimes a two or three-hour experience down to what I feel is the juiciest 14 minutes of that. And I think editing is one of the great luxuries. I think it's one of the things life really needs. You know, if you bump into somebody at a cocktail party and you chat with them for 15 minutes, you can't say, you know, there was only five good minutes out of that.

(LAUGHTER)

WERTHEIMER: Yeah.

SEINFELD: I wish I could get the other 10 back.

(LAUGHTER)

SEINFELD: But on this show, we remove the 10 that didn't have much going on.

WERTHEIMER: We saw the first episode of the new season, where Sarah Silverman is riding with you in a vintage Jaguar, which is a really beautiful car.

SEINFELD: Yeah, it is. That was a nice one.

WERTHEIMER: You compared her to the car.

SEINFELD: Yeah, don't you think? Especially the way she was dressed that day, in those long bell-bottoms, those blue bell-bottoms. She looked exactly like the car.

WERTHEIMER: Do you try to match the car to the guest?

SEINFELD: Yeah. Like Sarah to me is kind of feline, very smooth and seductive in her maneuvers. So - and the Jaguar reminded me of her.

WERTHEIMER: You know, when you do stand-up comedy, you react with the audience. And the audience, you know, comes back at you. But it's very different to be in this small metal space, elbow to elbow, knee to knee. I mean you're just - you can't get away from each other there. I would think that would give it a certain intensity.

SEINFELD: It does. It does. And you know, she starts telling me about, that she had an issue with depression as a teenager. This is not something that you're chatting about in front of 400 people on "The Tonight Show." 'Cause number one reason is unless you have a joke, you're not even going into it.

WERTHEIMER: Right.

SEINFELD: So we get to do that. And you know, it really led to something funny because I interrupted her to get Half & Half, instead of milk...

(LAUGHTER)

SEINFELD: ...'cause I prefer Half & Half.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE")

SILVERMAN: I went through a terrible depression - I remember my stepfather saying, What does it feel like...

SEINFELD: Excuse me, may I have Half & Half?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Half & Half.

SEINFELD: Thank you. I'm so sorry.

SILVERMAN: Of all the stories (unintelligible) depression (unintelligible) I get excuse me, can I have some Half & Half? Was it that much of an emergency?

SEINFELD: In the comedian's view of life, those things are kind of equal.

Any normal person would have been so hurt and so offended. I'm telling you one of the most, about one of the most painful moments of my life, and you're turning to find the waiter. But because she's a comedian, she sees how funny that is, in addition to how hurtful it was. And so at the same time she's telling me, really? - she registers both things. That is something only a comedian would do.

WERTHEIMER: Do you think we get a view of whatever the definition of - as what they're really like might possibly be?

SEINFELD: Absolutely. I mean, look, I know these people and this is it.

(LAUGHTER)

SEINFELD: This is what they're really like. I mean you walk out on a talk show, you know I'm on here for eight minutes, I want to make sure I tell a funny story or do an interesting anecdote. You're not just going to be sitting there tapping a coffee stirrer on the table and - you know. But you can do that on this show. So nobody feels that pressure to perform. And I do feel like I am capturing their true demeanor and energy.

WERTHEIMER: Now, I have to say though that the thing that I thought was enormously appealing about this program is how much you appear to love doing it. And after all of those sort of years of kind of deadpan comedy that we're used to from you, there you are, you're just laughing your head off at things that people say to you.

SEINFELD: I adore these people, all of them. They have been my life. It's like when I talk to people about being a comedian, well, there's being a comedian - which is you go on stage, you perform, and it's a profession. But then there's this other life, which is you spend all your time around these people. And that has given me this Technicolor existence. This show is very personal, 'cause if I like them, we'll have fun together. And if we have fun together, you'll have fun watching.

WERTHEIMER: Jerry Seinfeld, thank you.

SEINFELD: Thank you, Linda. It's a pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WERTHEIMER: Jerry Seinfeld's Web series is called "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee." The second season goes online today

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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