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Jerry Seinfeld Will Never Quit “The Wondrous Brown-Gold Liquid”

In 2012 in a video on one of the thousands of streaming services I have already forgotten ever existed Jerry Seinfeld picked up a friend and drove them to a cafe. Thus launched Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee an Emmynominated series which would go on to span 84 episodes offering insight into the art and craft of humor while answering the question.

How many standup comedians made famous by a show on NBC who are obsessed with oldtimey cars can there possibly be? Two that we know of. Over 11 seasons Seinfeld interviewed comedy luminaries like Mel Brooks Carl Reiner Steve Martin Eddie Murphy Norm Macdonald Tina Fey and Barack Obama though it’s not exactly clear how the latter qualifies as a comedian despite his recent pivot to lifestyle content. Now to mark the show’s tenth anniversary Seinfeld is releasing a companion book The Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee Book.

It’s a big old gorgeous coffee table book. Why didn’t he call it The Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee TABLE Book? I jotted down because I am an investigative journalist. The book features stills from the production an introduction by Seinfeld and an oral history of the show from the perspective of crew executives and guests. But the majority of The Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee Book consists of excerpted conversations from the show grouped into categories. Since each short episode was whittled down from hours of conversation some of these excerpts are neverbefore seen.

Though I will confess to skipping over Seinfeld’s conversations with an admitted nonconsensual masturbator and also with Bill Maher the book overall is both funny and genuinely informative. Simon & Schuster positions Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee as arguably the most important historical archive about the art of comedy ever amassed and it does contain invaluable thoughts from some of America’s most famous comedians about not only the lifestyle and dedication needed to make it in comedy but about the craft itself.

I found myself nodding along to Seinfeld’s descriptions of comedy as a machine. But even more enjoyable—and the raison d’etre of the show according to Seinfeld’s introduction—is the banter of comedians hanging out. They talk about other people’s routines they tell each other jokes. There’s an incredible bit where Seinfeld remarks that if he got Captain Phillips’d while doing standup he wouldn’t quit being a comedian. Todd Barry responds Yeah I’d probably say that was a fluke thing. I won’t work that club again I think. And then I would tell the club ‘You’ve got to hire at least two more bouncers.

The Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee Book is heavy on comedy and includes an index of all the cars featured throughout the series but honestly—I could have used some more coffee talk. Seinfeld writes in the introduction that 90 percent of my existence revolves around the wondrous browngold liquid and I’ve never been happier but throughout the book he talks about coffee roughly as often as he talks about the 2013 film Gravity. So I took my questions to the man himself. We spoke via Zoom as he sipped a coffee and I a huge fan dissociated.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. Esquire I love the book. Jerry Seinfeld Thank you. I thought it was so beautiful and I learned so much about the movie Gravity that I did not expect to learn. And I wanted to speak with you about one specific area which is the coffee in the book. So my first question is you write in the book that you didn’t start to drink coffee until later in life. What made you decide to take up a new addiction as an adult?

I didn’t have time to have meals with people. My whole single life every day it’s who am I going to have lunch with? And it would take two hours. It didn’t matter I had no family I had no place to go. You’re just waiting ‘til whatever time you’re going on stage that night. So the meal was how you killed the day but then when you have a wife and kids it’s a little different. So you were like Coffee’s the way to go? I guess. Let me try see what this Starbucks let’s see what this is. I don’t know what this is. And I sat down with somebody and I’m drinking this coffee and the conversation’s really getting animated and I’m thinking There’s something going on here. I have to explore this.

Do you feel like drinking coffee has changed your comedy writing? Has it made it more punchlineheavy or easy to flow?
I think I wrote in the book that cars and coffee are two objects that when I’m with them I never feel alone. And when you’re writing for me I’m almost always alone and the coffee’s like a warm friend. I like that it’s not so easy to get or not so easy to make. It’s like a person. You also say in the book I think it’s in an excerpt with Joel Hodgson that you could drink coffee until your eyeballs are in front of your glasses and that you could drink six in one sitting. How do your doctors feel about that amount of coffee consumption? I could care less. I remember a funny exchange with Ellen DeGeneres. I was drinking so much coffee and she says Doesn’t it affect you to drink that much coffee? I said Of course it does.

Are you able to sleep at night?
No not too well. You write in the book that you pitched the show to Starbucks and they were like Yeah we don’t really see the connection. I think Howard Schultz is a fantastic guy a perfect guy and it’s a brilliant company and I’m drinking the product right now. Holds up a red Starbucks holiday cup. I love the product.

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