Published on: June 4, 2015
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Regular MNB readers will know that I'm a huge fan of Jerry Seinfeld's web series, "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee," which is yet another "show about nothing" that actually ends up being about an awful lot. Essentially, it has Jerry picking up some comedian in a car that he deems suitable to their personality, and then they drive to a coffee shop, where they drink coffee. And talk. And talk. And talk.
That's what I love about the show. It has comedians, who tend to be very observant, pretty smart and very fast on their feet, engaged in conversation ... almost all of which I find to be enlightening, often touching, and usually very, very funny. The website can be found here
In a New York Times piece about Seinfeld last weekend, the new show was described as "free-form conversations with peers and pals," and the story made the point that the show has "helped its creator fit into a post-Internet world and a popular culture that could have moved on without him."
While "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" episodes have been streamed close to 100 million times since the show's debut, the fact is that in some ways the content and form are counterintuitive. They tend to run 15-20 minutes apiece, longer than most web-centric video segments. While there are hot young comedians like Amy Schumer, there also are segments with people like Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, for whom Seinfeld clearly has enormous affection.
And maybe that's the key to what really makes the enterprise work - Seinfeld is talking to people who interest him about a subject that he finds endlessly fascinating - the nature of humor, the structure of jokes, and the internal wiring of people who are funny for a living.
Jerry Seinfeld, who apparently knows a lot about how to put on a hit show, did it the first time with "Seinfeld," in which he flaunted the conventions of situation comedy to create a program about "nothing," and now he's doing it with a web series that once again challenges the traditions of the form (even though the form is so new that it hardly has had time to develop traditions).
In the Times interview, Seinfeld makes another important point about comedy and comedians - he believes that each one tends to walk a very singular road, and that there isn't all that much that one can learn about career development from others.
Which ultimately means, I think, that Jerry Seinfeld doesn't believe in formula ... which is why some of his friends tell the Times that there "is some irreducible part of him that craves reinvention and untried experiences," even as he "understands that retaining one’s cultural relevance is a continuing pursuit."
That's a good lesson for any business.
Or to put in a way that only Jerry Seinfeld could: "“The less you know about a field, the better your odds. Dumb boldness is the best way to approach a new challenge.”
In fact, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
It is what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to know what is on your mind.
- KC's View: