‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee’ Continues to Shift the Talk Show Format Into New Gears in Season 11
During a guest spot on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Jerry Seinfeld expressed his disdain for the late night pre-interview, where the show’s producers make notes of the talking points and stories that the show is going to hit. He wanted to make Seth work for his answers and the segment was hilarious as a result. This contempt for canned interviews is likely among the reasons why Seinfeld manifested “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” The series hasn’t simply been successful because of Seinfeld’s crossovers with other comedic legends. It’s because he knows how to make his guests feel comfortable in their own skin, taking them out of the shadows and crowds of late night and into the bright skies and big breakfasts of early morning.
Season 11 begins with an extended romp with Seinfeld’s longtime friend Eddie Murphy, who finally seems ready to end his decade long hibernation with the upcoming “Dolemite Is My Name” and “Coming 2 America.” The Murphy we see here is a far cry from the manic leather-bound motormouth who took the world by storm. He’s humble, shy even. He talks about how he spends much of his time doing absolutely nothing. The prospect of working at comedy clubs again terrifies him. It shouldn’t, as he clearly has the same sharp wit he always has, but it’s fascinating to hear about. Seinfeld plays off of him beautifully as the two reminisce about their early days of up-and-coming comedians. It turns out that Murphy has a borderline photographic memory of every club he’s ever played, and he has great stories to tell about each. He also spins a compelling tale about Bill Cosby, highlighting some of the cruelty at the height of his fame that should’ve raised some red flags about the man living inside Dr. Huxtable. This was a time when such behavior was swept under the rug and the somewhat passive way Murphy recounts it gives us a window into the mindset of comedians of the past. Murphy is the most compelling of Seinfeld’s guests and sets the bar high for those who follow.
Seinfeld’s dynamic with Seth Rogen is a bit awkward. They are comics of different generations who have clearly only crossed paths occasionally. Rogen is nervous throughout their breakfast, which Seinfeld points out, much to his dismay. However, their generational differences eventually lead to compelling conversation. Rogen makes a particularly pertinent point when Seinfeld starts railing on about outrage culture, saying that if a comedian has awareness of the inappropriateness of what they’re saying, it is easier to bring an audience along for the ride.
That struggle becomes all the more clear in his two-part outing with Ricky Gervais, in which Seinfeld makes a tone-deaf crack about Chinese people that even Gervais is a bit uncomfortable with. They attempt to have a compelling discussion about the thought process of a joke. Namely, is it okay to make a joke that is offensive just because your mind goes there. Neither of them really land on an answer, the first part ending with a bizarre Saturday matinee serial interlude that boils down to “will kids on the internet get offended by our trite jokes? Stay tuned!” The second part of the episode meanders on, with ten minutes devoted to both of them running out of things to talk about as they get stuck in a pileup.
We then get back on track with Jamie Foxx. It’s difficult to not to get swept up in the Oscar winner’s infectious childlike energy. As he launches into impression after impression, Seinfeld mostly sits back and laughs. He knows that Foxx will have a conversation with himself if allowed and he’s not afraid to let that happen. There isn’t much in the way of compelling discussion, but it’s fun nonetheless.
Seinfeld’s other guests in the 12-episode season include Matthew Broderick, Sebastian Maniscalco, Martin Short, and Melissa Villaseñor. The comedians drive around Los Angeles in an array of different cars from a 2018 Rolls-Royce Dawn, 2018 Lamborghini Huracán Performante and 2004 Porsche Carrera GT to classics such as a 1961 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible and 1966 Porsche 356 SC Cabriolet. Seinfeld and Maniscalco even cruise the city on a 1959 Lambretta Series II.
“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” continues to be a calming and chuckle inducing way to get a latte with some of Hollywood’s funniest people. While it doesn’t provide the belly laughs one might expect from its talent, it’s not supposed to. This is about watching these celebrities finally get to relax and it often feels as if we are sitting right beside them. It would be nice to see Seinfeld have more of an interest in evolving with the times, but after you star in one of the world’s most successful sitcoms, who can blame you for thinking you’re doing everything right.
“Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” season 11 begins streaming July 19 on Netflix.