When Jerry Seinfeld is really comfortable with a guest, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee can really shine. This week’s episode saw Seinfeld’s longtime friend Bill Maher as his guest. The episode was both engaging and informative, but a reused topic and some awkward editing brought it down slightly.
WARNING: If you haven’t seen the episode yet, watch it before reading ahead. Can’t say I didn’t warn you!
Bill Maher caught on quickly about the car portion of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld brought a 1979 VW Bug that doubled as a German police car for Maher, because Maher “appears to have quite a bit of authority, but in reality has no power whatsoever.” Once the car got going, the conversation was great, starting off with the value of live television and the difficulty of not having commercials.
However, there was hardly ever a close-up of the person talking. Rather, shots of the car driving were mixed with close-ups of someone’s reaction. It was like a Japanese anime where the audio and video are off. I wonder if the car-mounted cameras had issues recording during the drive or if Jim Carrey might have broken one last week.
Maher, as a political comedian, has to balance on the fine line between talking about politics from a comedy perspective and straight up talking about politics. I think Seinfeld did a good job by letting Maher explain his point concisely before cutting to their walk through a park. At this point, it felt like the guest got a bit defensive, trying to poke holes in Seinfeld’s comedic logic. It even became a discussion on why Los Angeles is better than New York. Anybody who has seen one episode of Seinfeld (the show) knows that Seinfeld (the person) will always side with New York over anywhere and everywhere else.
The sit-down portion of Comedians in Cars can make or break an episode. This week, the conversation at the Brite Spot was this episode’s bright spot. It started off with Maher being the only person to buy a copy of The New York Times at a hotel gift shop in Columbia, South Carolina. It followed with two showbiz veterans explaining that they don’t have a clue when it comes to how the business works. Maher made a spot on comparison to politics and Hillary Clinton, which once again did not cross the fine line.
By the time the waiter came to take their orders, it was clear both the host and the guest were relaxed and comfortable on the show. The duo joked about being a comedy team of “Smug and Arrogant” before exemplifying their roles, with a smug Seinfeld and an arrogant Maher having some fun with their water, Mark. Maher eventually gave his theory for why The Beatles broke up before the conversation devolved into whether or not famous people should be treated exactly like everyone else.
The episode hit a sour note toward the end when Seinfeld and Maher discussed underwear preferences. My issue is not with the topic itself, but the fact that this is not the first time this topic has been mentioned during an episode of a Jerry Seinfeld show. I know how comfortable boxer briefs are, but I’m shocked Comedians in Cars isn’t sponsored by Hanes with the way Seinfeld promotes boxer briefs.
By the end of the episode, the pair went to a grocery store, where Seinfeld used the bathroom and Maher finally put on the Mets hat he’d been carrying with him all day. I’m genuinely surprised Maher brought a hat with him considering it would mess with his hair. Regardless, it was a weird final minute or so in a new location that wasn’t ever really explained and felt like it was thrown in.
Overall, the longest episode of season six of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee was a good one. There was a good back-and-forth between Seinfeld and Maher, though editing made it feel more like a voiceover than an organic conversation between two comedians. I enjoyed the car, the conversation and the restaurant portion of the episode, but the end of the show almost ruined it for me between the underwear discussion and the late location change. 7.5/10