A friend of mine told me about a web series, hosted by Jerry Seinfeld, titled Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. In each episode, Jerry calls a famous comedian friend and they go get a cup of coffee or a sandwich or something. And I have to say, when I first heard of the series, I thought it was going to be a laugh-a-minute kind of show. But it doesn’t work in the way a sitcom does.
Rather, it works like a real friendship. At times, the conversation lags, and there’s not much interest. Jerry himself is, at times, funny or charming. At other times, though, he’s thoughtless, careless, or profane. There are moments of real emotion and even repentance, and then there are times when nothing important is said at all. The show runs the gamut of the kinds of conversations friends have.
The strangeness of watching friends talk is partly why I like it. I watch the show, and I’m on the outside looking in, yet these entertainers are not putting forth energy to entertain me.
As I watch the show, it gives me the chance to reflect on my own friendships. For instance, I have some friends who are, like Brian Regan is for Jerry, there for pure entertainment. I have other friends I get into trouble with, and still other friends that I aspire to be like. Then there are a very few who I can sit and talk to, and say something profound or silly or off-color, and they’re still my friends.
Even with those basic reflections, though, I’m still not connected to Jerry or any of his guests. I wish I were as funny as Mel Brooks or as upfront as Chris Rock, but this show reminds me that I don’t know enough about either of them to wish that. I’m eavesdropping on two or three very talented people who are out having a cup of coffee. They don’t know me, and though I’ve caught a glimpse of their lives and skillsets, I don’t know them, either.
That, to me, is the best thing about it. Too often, I get caught up in the gossipy details of a celebrity’s life and I begin claiming knowledge of who they are. I forget that I don’t know them as people. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is not about the latest gossip or gaining more manufactured details about a celebrity. It’s about a couple of guys getting coffee. That’s it. Jerry and his friends make that perfectly clear.