When Jerry Seinfeld announced his new season of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee would kick off with President Barack Obama, it was safe to be skeptical. After all, this was a guest who wasn’t a comedian and it was the season premiere! Turns out the President was one of the most entertaining guests in show history, an early high point followed by some rocky episodes with actual comedians.
How do the six episodes from season seven stack up? Here’s how I rank them, along with links to those episode recaps. Full spoilers below, so if you haven’t watched these shows yet, you may want to first. Consider yourself warned.
Martin was given the unenviable task of following up the leader of the free world. What happened was an episode that lived up to pretty much none of the expectations. As a big fan of Steve Martin, it felt like he had left comedy behind and was a bit dull. Slow pacing did nothing to alleviate the boredom Martin spread through this episode. It’s sad, because I was expecting Martin to rival Obama as a guest. Boy, was I wrong there!
I’m not a big follower of the stand-up comedy circuit, so I went in blind with Kathleen Madigan. Between what felt like an unexpected tag-along from Chuck Martin (not his fault) and a post-production mistake on the lake flyover, the episode came across as sloppy. Moreover, it seemed like Seinfeld had to carry the episode. Madigan is funny, but an unfocused episode could not overcome its mistakes.
Meet the Italian Jerry Seinfeld? That’s exactly what Seinfeld did for a ride in a 1969 Chevy Camaro Z/28. As you might expect since their outlooks and styles are similar, the two were comfortable together. Unfortunately, they were both out of place at Intelligentsia. The episode didn’t have any awful moments, but there was just one truly memorable moment, at the end, when Maniscalco demonstrated how he applies cologne.
Saving the most famous comedian for last, Will Ferrell closed out season seven. Ferrell was really funny, but it felt like he was playing a character. When the guest is a character, like Miranda Sings, that makes sense. But Ferrell, the person, is well known and I would have preferred to see the real person. Yes, the character Ferrell plays is really funny, but that’s not the point of a show like Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Shandling is the miserable old Jewish man stereotype taken to an extreme, but in a good way. The episode had prepared for its guest with a beautiful car, a Kvetch-o-meter added in post, and two trips down memory lane. Shandling has a brand of self-deprecating humor that never crosses the line into pity. Turns out the guest who could have been the most miserable and depressing in show history was actually pretty funny. Shandling proved to be a good guest and a relative high for season seven.
President Obama’s episode probably had more scripting than the rest of the season combined, but that is a fair crutch because he is not a comedian by trade. Regardless, he improvised a bunch of funny lines, showing phenomenal comedic timing and storytelling abilities. A short turnaround time did not matter as the episode delivered constant laughs alongside some serious subjects.
Season seven of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee was all about expectations. Between big-name guests who did not always hit the mark and stand-ups who seemed out of place without a microphone in hand, this season of Comedians in Cars was as zig-zaggy as San Francisco’s Lombard Street. Only one episode is truly worth rewatching, although most of season seven is worth seeing once. After nearly fifty episodes, it seems like Seinfeld has this show down to a science. I cannot wait for season eight.
[You can read Alex’s other recaps of Comedians in Cars here.]