Between a very cool car and a close friendship between Jerry Seinfeld and his guest, Garry Shandling, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee presented a strong episode this week. Regardless of Shandling’s penchant for complaints, some fascinating stories were told, complete with a bunch of laugh-out-loud moments.
SPOILER ALERT – WATCH THE EPISODE FIRST
The first five seconds gave away that this episode would be great. Seinfeld was practically drooling in his voiceover describing a 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo in cashmere beige as “my kind of car.” It really is an impressive car, in a color that cars don’t come in anymore.
When introducing his guest, Jerry commented that Shandling was one of his first comedian friends to get a 911. It took me a second to realize he was referring to a Porsche and not… something more fitting of Steve Rannazzisi. Aside from that hiccup, the introduction was very neat, with Seinfeld explaining that his and Shandling’s careers were intertwined in many ways, between stand-up, Tonight Show appearances, and even sitcoms that were shot next door to each other.
When Seinfeld picked up Shandling, the two hugged and had a moment, something that has not happened with most Comedians in Cars guests. It was a lighthearted moment that was smart to include, showing the closeness of their relationship.
An early exchange about Matthew McConaughey needing a comedian alongside him in those bizarre car commercials was great. Between Shandling conceiving the idea and then the two acting it out not long after, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Afterward came a conversation on The Comedy Store, a venue both comedians performed at while they were up-and-comers. Then they visited the club, which was brilliant. It was cool to see some of the names, both on the sign out front and on the walls, of comedians who have graced — and continue to grace — The Comedy Store’s stage.
Shandling eventually gets up on stage and reenacts some of his memorable moments from performing at the venue. Between a waitress who invaded his show and a bit he did for an empty room, these stories were phenomenal. I laughed out loud watching him reenact both of them.
After getting back in the car, Seinfeld lamented the loss of David Brenner, but didn’t mourn the loss of Brenner as a person. Rather, he was saddened by “all that material” that went with him. Shandling riffed on what was said and even continued the conversation with Robin Williams. Both Seinfeld and Shandling consider Brenner and Williams as comedic greats, and though they made lighthearted moments about what happened, it was clear that they also had immense respect for both men.
In the restaurant, Shandling tells some self-deprecating jokes about being self-deprecating. Then came a funny conversation about the phrase “Go f*** yourself,” including its popularity and uses. Afterward, The Larry Sanders Show came up and Shandling explained the difficulty of pitching the show to HBO.
A cut to Shandling talking about himself being sick brought on a “Jewish Kvetch-o-Meter,” a brilliant post-production addition that made his stories even funnier. The last of these anecdotes involved him watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and was arguably the high point of the episode.
Instead of the episode winding down after the restaurant scene, Shandling and Seinfeld visited the lot where Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show were shot. Both were revolutionary shows starring their creators and aired simultaneously, which strengthened an already close bond the two shared. They even visited a set used for the street on Seinfeld, which looks like a ghost town.
The two reminisced about their shows and even a couple of jokes Shandling contributed for an episode of Seinfeld. After walking onto a set that looked like a modern, busier version of Jerry’s apartment on the show, they reenacted a couple of funny sitcom moments.
As the episode ended, Shandling told jokes about Robin Williams, the Dalai Lama, and a bizarre doctor’s appointment he had recently. All three were funny. I think that Shandling was so successful because he has so much experience both in comedy and comedic storytelling.
The pacing of this episode was strong, as each of the venues got its due without feeling stretched out. It was a return to form for Comedians in Cars after a pair of disappointing episodes. My biggest question is: why did it take seven seasons for Garry Shandling to finally get on the show? 8.5/10
[You can read Alex’s other recaps of Comedians in Cars here.]