Jerry Seinfeld On Bill Cosby, Roseanne, and Louis C.K.

Jerry Seinfeld is coming back to the Beacon Theater. “It’s my vision of what I consider to be the ideal stand-up experience,” he said. (Credit: Landon Nordeman for The New York Times)
Jerry Seinfeld is coming back to the Beacon Theater. “It’s my vision of what I consider to be the ideal stand-up experience,” he said. (Credit: Landon Nordeman for The New York Times)

In some ways, the world of Jerry Seinfeld is the same as it ever was. He’s still the singularly recognizable stand-up, the star and co-creator of his eponymous TV sitcom and the host of a Netflix talk show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” At 64, he is still playing dozens of live dates a year and, on Friday, announced the return of his residency at the Beacon Theater with 20 new shows in 2019.

But the comedy world that Seinfeld inhabits is in a tumultuous period. While some performers feel uneasy about what they can or can’t say onstage, several prominent stars have been disgraced by scandals of their own making. Bill Cosby, once one of Seinfeld’s creative heroes, was convicted of sexual assault in April and sentenced to prison in September. Roseanne Barr had her resuscitated ABC sitcom canceled in May after she posted a racist tweet. Louis C.K., who last year admitted to several acts of sexual misconduct, has resumed performing in clubs again, prompting an outcry from some audience members and rebukes from fellow comics.

These are complicated and uncomfortable issues that Seinfeld knows he can’t avoid, given his standing in the industry, and that he is still thinking through and processing in real time. On Wednesday, over lunch at Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side, he spoke about the current cultural moment, which he said felt necessary. “We’re figuring it out as we go along,” Seinfeld said. “And there’s something very stimulating and empowering about that. We don’t really know what the rules are.”

Seinfeld also spoke about his approach to stand-up in this anxious period, the performers who have transgressed and the artists he still admires. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

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SOURCE: The New York Times