As in Seinfeld…
When I landed in the U.S. which turned out to be in the middle of corn field and not in NYC or LA, I was often trapped inside my dorm room and therefore I watched a lot of American TV. That’s probably for the better since I needed polishing on not just the English language but also American pop cultures. Nick at Night turned out to be a great teacher.
But the real Sensei for me, in terms of getting integrated into the American Pop culture, is Seinfeld.
It was a struggle for me at first. The show is full of references and references to references. I felt that I needed a secret decoder to decipher the humor underneath the banters. I knew it was funny; I just didn’t know how or why. More puzzling instead. When I finally was able to laugh at all the appropriate moments, and sometimes even at the more subtle points, I knew that I had “GOT IN” the secret club.
We went to see Jerry Seinfeld last Friday. The show was supposed to start at 7 pm, and yet, at 7:20 pm there were still a lot of people getting into their seats. Many of them were either holding a drink or obviously tipsy already. As late as 7:45 pm, there were stragglers wandering in. And throughout the night, until the show ended a little bit after 8:30 pm, people would get out of their seats to get more drinks and popcorn.
Is it just me? Is this nothing uncommon when it comes to standup comedies even though the venue is Chicago Theatre and now some comedy club in a basement somewhere?
I really had fun at the show. I laughed so hard, my stomach hurt, and I found it hard to breath quite often. In fact, my husband told me after the show that he was surprised by how loud my laughter could be (or did he use the word “cackle”? Anyway, after 14 years of marriage, I was surprised that he was surprised by anything. Wow.) I had to press on my temples at several particularly hilarious yet insightful observations that he made for fear that my head might burst from the suppressed urge to jump up and down in vehement agreement.
One example: (Paraphrased below as usual… for I have no photographic memory…)
The problem with being a father is that our role is not clear. A kid’s role? Very clear. A father’s role? FUZZY. We have no idea what we are supposed to do. In fact, there are only two things that are clearly what fathers are expected to do. One is to come home every night, drop your bag on the floor, and yell, “Daddy’s home!” and then expect everybody in the house to drop whatever they are doing and come running.
The other one is AVOIDANCE. We practice avoidance so nobody can see us. (I can’t quite remember what exactly he said in the middle here… It’s funny. Just trust me on this one.) “WHERE IS YOUR FATHER?” This question is the most often asked inside the house. (At this line I howled with laughter because it is damn true in my household. At the same time I felt grateful towards Seinfeld because it was damn nice to know I am not alone in dealing with the “Husband in Hiding” issue…) … GOLF stands for GET OUT LEAVE FAMILY…
Jerry asked the audience to throw questions at him at the end, and it became obvious that many in the audience were flat out drunk. One guy kept on yelling Festivus! Some gal repeated what she had yelled at the beginning of the show, “Jerry I love you you are the best you are the funniest” (and she did not know when to stop). A very blonde and young girl sitting in the first row told Jerry that she has been watching his show since 1995. Jerry said, “Yes, and I have been on TV for the 15 years before that!” Again, this one did not know when to stop either. She went on full gushing mode. “But I think you are the best and the funniest… blah blah blah.”
“If you turn around now,” Jerry had to interrupt her, “you’ll see that there are other people in this room. It is not just you and me here.” He then tried to make the whole situation funnier for the rest of us, “Sometimes people sitting in the front row are so blinded by their power…”
The question of whether he plans to do another TV show was brought up, Jerry said, “To be honest with you: I am old, rich and tired.” He now gets up in the morning sitting at the kitchen counter with his three kids eating cereals while watching Sesame Street. “I would watch Elmo and laugh at his antics, and I’d thought to myself, ‘Yeah. Let him bust his red furry ass…’”
Some guy from the DRUNK section yelled out, “DO YOU THINK YOU ARE FUNNY?”
Awkward silence in the audience. I guess most people were holding their breath at that somewhat rude question.
“I don’t know. It really doesn’t matter what I think. You guys are the ones paying for the tickets!” At that, thunderous applause.