I’m numb. I drove home with the radio off. I just want to bask in the experience, the greatness, of two men still at the top of their game in the flesh.
It was the sensibility, the quickness, the jokes. We were eavesdropping on two men talking about their history and their craft. It was not only an insight into who they were, but how they made it.
They moved to L.A.
Dave felt it was the only way to get on television. To appear at the Comedy Store and get scouted for “The Tonight Show.”
Jerry was king of the comedy roost in New York, but when he got to L.A., Mitzi wanted nothing to do with him. He would not give the details, since Ms. Shore so recently passed, but he asked for a meeting and she told him face to face…
Why he wasn’t getting any slots.
But Jerry always knew he was gonna make it. You can feel his confidence.
And you can feel his strangeness. He doesn’t need you and me, and that allows him to be himself. Which endears us to him ever more closely. He’s famous for his standup, his TV show, but in conversation…you realize this is who Jerry truly is, and it’s fascinating and inspirational.
My dad was funny. Oftentimes in a lame way. But he looked for the humor in life. That was the highest calling in my house, to make a joke.
Actually, Dave told one. About golf. He was reluctant.
The golfer was on the eighteenth tee with a cumulative score of 160 already. He took out his 7 iron and told his caddie if he didn’t hit the green, he was gonna drown himself in the pond.
His caddie told him he didn’t think he could keep his head down that long.
If you know golf, almost no one in attendance did. But Dave chuckled to himself.
But Jerry’s all about the audience, that’s how he judges what works, by the laughs, he’s always in search of laughs. He’s been doing this routine about raisins. About Sun-Maid and Raisinets. How eighty years later, Sun-Maid is finally covering their product with chocolate. He’s ruminating on how this happened, did a Sun-Maid employee go to the movies and have an a-ha moment?
But forgetting the routine itself, Jerry was trying it out in a club in New York and there were crickets, no response, he thought it was only funny to himself, he was about to abandon it, and then minutes later, in a lull, there was a voice from the back of the club…MORE RAISINETS!
Then he knew he was on to something, he decided the routine was gig-worthy.
And speaking of worthiness, if Jerry and Larry agreed something was funny, they included it, they figured if it made it past their two filters…
That’s what comedians are, filters, of life.
Jerry started riffing on products and commercials and I realized…
Only comedians do this job. Everybody else is hawking stuff, and we’re sitting home alone saying HUH?
The comedian says “huh.”
But Jerry wouldn’t comment on Michelle Wolf’s Correspondents Dinner routine, at least not the substance of it. But he appreciated her preparation and her willingness to hang it out there with no regrets.
And Dave loved that she didn’t apologize.
That’s Jerry in a nutshell. He doesn’t want to offend on a big level, he’d rather offend on a minor one. Dave was uttering platitudes and Jerry continued to call him on them. It was so refreshing. Jerry wouldn’t let anything slide. And when he grins and laughs everything is forgiven, you know it’s all in service of the joke.
As for Dave…
He was built wrong, his sensibility is off. He sees things in a skewed way. And rather than point them out, he just utters a crack or a judgment and you break up, hysterically.
Actually, that’s one thing Jerry said that I loved, that comedians are JUDGMENTAL!
In a world where everybody’s afraid of offending someone, giving people the benefit of the doubt, to get along, WHY?
And Jerry refused to talk about his children, not because of privacy concerns but because everybody does it and it’s boring, he’s sick of hearing about stars’ children.
And Dave said he learned you’re not supposed to be your kid’s best friend, but their father. But he did say Harry was his favorite person.
And Jerry said on stage, doing his act, was the only place he felt comfortable. Dave agreed. These are ill-adjusted people, even though Jerry refuses to admit it. Then again, the greats are sui generis, they’ve got little self-knowledge, they can only be themselves.
Jerry talked about growing up as an outsider in his own family.
They both talked about being the first people in their families to graduate from college.
And Jerry asked Dave about his love of skiing, how he was willing to do it alone, without Harry. And Dave went into a whole riff about conversations on the lift, whether they were high-speed or fixed grip, how if it’s the latter you’ve got all day to share ideas and become friends.
And I don’t expect you to get that, but it’s about the narrow passions we all have.
And unlike SNL, Jerry and Dave end up being universal without trying to be. It’s that aforementioned sensibility, of walking through life and laughing at it. SNL is trying to find reference points in the culture, Jerry and Dave realize PEOPLE are the reference points.
And when the lights went down and they were only twenty feet away I got that excitement you do at the concert, you know, when your favorite band is taking the stage.
But in this case, the show was unrehearsed. And this was superstars hanging it all out.
Like the mantra of “Seinfeld,” there was no hugging.
But there was plenty of learning.
Why I came to Los Angeles. Who I am.
I yearned to be who I once was, an oddball with my own language. My ex-shrink shrunk it out of me, said no one could understand me. But I think they did.
And conformity is all the rage, yet we lionize those who are true to themselves.
In a world where everything is canned, at our fingertips, where it’s an effort to leave the house, fight the traffic, to be there tonight was a peak experience, a thrill.
So this is part of Netflix’s campaign for Emmy nominations. There’s weeks of events, a little museum/event space filled with dioramas from their shows. You’d be stunned how many hits there are.
And Ted Sarandos did the introduction.
And it’s unclear whether this conversation will ever see the flat screen.
And it’s not that I need to tell you I was there, it’s just that I need to tell you how I feel.
Less alone. Encouraged. Inspired to test limits.
Inspired to be myself.