Jerry Seinfeld takes the stage for the first of his four shows in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Jerry Seinfeld works hard for his money.
The 61-year-old multi-millionaire entertainer, whose nine-season sitcom became a cultural touchstone unmatched in TV history, went back to his roots on Saturday night in Tel Aviv and proved that he was master of his domain – the field of stand-up comedy.
It was no coincidence that the warm-up music at the Menora Mivtachim Arena consisted of classic Frank Sinatra tunes, culminating in “New York, New York.” The sold-out audience was in the presence of class personified.
Following a stellar opening set by longtime Seinfeld friend and contemporary Mark Schiff, the crowd went wild when the headliner ran out on stage without an introduction.
In a rapid-fire 90-minute set that flowed seamlessly from his patented “nothing” topics of the peccadilloes of the human race to more recent fare reflecting his current life, like marriage and parenthood, Seinfeld was like a vintage Rolls Royce out on the road for a rare spin for all to marvel at.
What was more amazing was that he had completed a similarly energy-exerting set only an hour or so before at the matinée show.
Dressed in a stylish suit that showed off only a little more bulk than in his TV heyday, Seinfeld soldiered on through some hoarseness with a slick, well-rehearsed set that had the appreciative audience frequently breaking into applause.
An hilarious opening focused on the audience’s decision to attend the show and all the details it entailed, offered in Seinfeld’s trademark earnest outrage, which is more staccato and manic that the TV monologues of old.
He localized his bits a few times, mentioning the vast array at Israeli hotel breakfasts and how it brings out the worst elements in people.
“After loading up on 12 dishes you would never think of eating together, you see someone walking with something else. And you shout, ‘Where did you get that? I didn’t see that!” Some of the funniest segments were devoted to marriage and the differences between men and women. Despite the well-worn theme, Seinfeld injected the topic with freshness. “Men expect the same thing from a wife as they do from a good pair of underwear – support and freedom.”
After leaving the stage briefly, Seinfeld returned for an encore that consisted of taking some questions shouted out by the audience.
When the questions were inane, he turned them around and ended up talking about Israel and how he volunteered on a kibbutz as a 15-year-old in 1970.
“That was the first time I thought that if I could spend my life making people laugh, it would be a great thing,” he recalled.
When asked if he would consider retiring to Israel, he quickly responded, “Why would I ever retire? I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing right now. Why would I give that up?” The satisfied fans with faces hurting from nearly two hours of grinning couldn’t have agreed more.
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