Jerry Seinfeld lives up to the title of 23 Hours to Kill. Seinfeld delivers material and a performance both new and familiar. Pop-tart jokes and masterful dad jokes remain, but Seinfeld’s physical performance is a true wonder in his Netflix special. The comic’s physical comedy is every bit as funny as his setups and punchlines. 23 Hours to Kill is a star comedian giving another star performance.
An Event Special
A great opening for a special can perfectly set the tone and first impression for what’s to come. Seinfeld starts with a bang doing only what Jerry Seinfeld would do for a special: jumping out of a helicopter. Why? Because it’s funny. It’s big and splashy and grandiose, like Seinfeld as a performer and pop culture icon. There’s something hilariously self-indulgent about it, too, to spend that kind of money on an opening. Followed by an old school band playing as Seinfeld graces the stage, he sets up his hour of material like a larger-than-life showman. Even before Seinfeld reaches the mic, we’re happy to see him back on stage.
Seinfeld’s material ebbs and flows with total fluidity. When the comedian jokes he’s like a blacksmith performing a job out of time, the comparison is fitting. Seinfeld is very much a craftsman as a comedian. Everything about his material is in exactly the right place from the beginning, middle, and end. He knows when to go low or high either with a story, a bit, or his voice and movements. It’s where a lot of Seinfeld’s nuance and subtlety lies; it’s in the craft.
Even when he’s talking about the broadest of subjects, he tells it with remarkable specificity. Seinfeld’s comedy, just his way of constructing sentences and ideas, is pleasing to the eyes. It’s why he’s one of the best. Seinfeld can seize an unfunny subject and find the comedy gold within it. Of course, that’s what he’s always had an eye for, but he’s arguably more sharper than ever on stage.
As Seinfeld notes in the special, he’s 65 and loving it. He just says no to everything he doesn’t want to do (good for him), and he can’t wait to see how he’ll deal with people in his 70s. We can’t wait for 75-year-old Seinfeld’s observations at that stage of his life, but I only mention Seinfeld’s age because it shows in the special. All the years of practice, experience, and hard work, as a result, we get a comedian at the top of their game. In 23 Hours to Kill, it’s Seinfeld performing with skills honed for decades. He’s performing at another level after all his years at the job.
What also remains compelling about Seinfeld is the timelessness. He jokes he’s from another time and all that and, yes, has some jokes along the lines of, “What’s the deal with kids today?” Still, all the jokes are timeless, which deserves applause.
There’s still so little that could possibly ever date Seinfeld’s material. He avoids politics, social issues, and any subject too modern. Again, that’s a part of his style, but it’s especially charming nowadays in 23 Hours to Kill. As a result, Seinfeld doesn’t cover familiar ground as a comic, and nobody will ever look back on his fantastic special on Netflix and think, “What is he talking about?” Seinfeld wants his material to last, which it will.
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