The season finale of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee dropped late Wednesday night (July 8), and everything fell into place to make this a great episode, possibly even the best one of the season. A lot of great work was done in post-production that made the episode come alive, though an assist has to go to the lively Stephen Colbert. He and host Jerry Seinfeld analyze the world through similar lenses, and that made this episode pop compared to some of this season’s other offerings.
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I am a big fan of both Stephen Colbert, the comedian, and Stephen Colbert, the character from The Colbert Report, and cannot wait until Colbert takes over for David Letterman in a few months. That is part of why I was eagerly anticipating this season’s finale episode. Clearly, Jerry Seinfeld is also a fan of Colbert and his work, as he once again chose the perfect car for his guest. The 1964 Morgan +4 Roadster was similar to Colbert himself, perfectly functioning, but slightly quirky. The turn signals, horn, and even the glove box all fit the guest’s personality type.
When Jerry has a truly funny guest on his show, the episode is elevated to new heights and the level of creativity grows significantly. That happened at the ¼ mark of the episode, as Colbert imagined a mouse living in the box, with the mouse animated into the box complete with speech bubbles and everything. It was a choice that strayed from the typical setup of Comedians in Cars, but I think it went well.
Then came the product placement, with this week being the only overt Acura drive-by this season. I think that these “meta” placements function if they are done each week, but with them missing from some episodes altogether, it doesn’t work properly. Afterward, another joke using the mouse character came up regarding the windshield wipers and that fit, too. My concern was that the mouse would become a crutch throughout the episode, but this was not the case.
Some of the strongest Comedians in Cars episodes are ones that take a biographical/autobiographical look at a guest. Episodes where I learn about how a comedian got started are usually stronger, because there has been time to carefully craft jokes and the funny moments are essentially pre-written.
This was no different as Colbert started off talking about his beginnings on The Daily Show, both pre-Jon Stewart and once the show took a more political turn. Banter segued to The Colbert Report and its ending, with the quick-witted Colbert smart enough to pin it back on Seinfeld and the end of Seinfeld. Not many comedians could have done what Colbert did with such humor and immediacy. Right after, Seinfeld shows he’s still pretty quick as a throwaway line from Colbert turned into an allusion to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Since the episode took place in Montclair, N.J., this was only fitting.
Once the coffee part of the episode began, Colbert stepped into the Wayback Machine and talked about his pre-career in Chicago, including his lack of work early on. I’m impressed that Colbert could remember the slogan for a bank commercial he did in the early 1990s, but even more impressed Seinfeld and co. were able to track it down. Afterward, the pipe talk and branches from there were strong, including the discussion on modern masculinity. It all came full circle when the host blatantly asked the guest whether he or his father was more masculine and Colbert answered easily and obviously that it was him.
The last chunk of the episode was still funny, but much deeper than expected. Talk about life and death had its funny moments, but also its enlightening points. Then came a purposeful lull in the conversation before the duo exited the café. After a short visit to a bookstore, Colbert did what I believe is a Comedians in Cars first, he drove and let Seinfeld relax a little bit. It had clearly been a while since Colbert last drove a stick shift, and it sure sounded like he did some damage to that car by the end of the episode.
This isn’t Jerry Seinfeld’s first rodeo, and he structured this season’s episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee smartly. He ended with the best episode, both because Stephen Colbert is funny and because he and Seinfeld are amateur sociopaths sociologists. I can’t wait to see what happens when Colbert returns the favor and has Seinfeld performing a set on The Late Show. This is a good appetizer as fans continue to wait until Sept. 8th, when Colbert returns to late night television. 9.5/10