For most of us of a certain age, Jerry Seinfeld invented everyday humor. Whether or not you had his old stand-up routines on CD, bought his book, the 1993 volume Seinlanguage (which was basically just a stand-up routine in book form) or, of course, watched every episode of the legendary series he created with Larry David, there’s a chance that at least more than half of the parents reading this right now based at least some of what passes for wit on Jerry Seinfeld. Who among us has not asked the question, “What’s the deal with child-safe shampoo?”
That said, in more recent years, Jerry Seinfeld is mostly known for his meta-reality series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which, although fun, often feels like a prelude to an actual comedy show that never really begins. Seinfeld has, also appeared on Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it’s been a while. And, even his last stand-up special on Netflix, Jerry Before Seinfeld, probably wasn’t exactly what you were looking for.
This is why one segment of Seinfeld’s new Netflix stand-up comedy special, 23 Hours to Kill, is so refreshing. For the first time, in what feels like maybe ever, Seinfeld tells some pretty solid jokes that married people with kids will probably relate to. And the best one is all about what it’s like to raise a child from infancy all the way to that magic age of 18 years old.
“So my daughter is 18. She just finished high school. She’s going off to college…Everybody is asking me: ‘How do you feel Jerry, first kid, leaving the house?’ And you know, what, I’m okay. The way I look at it is that it’s like if you somehow found a baby alligator. And you put it in your tub…and you feel the little…bitey…teeth. And then time passes, and you think — You know, I think we have to get this thing the hell out here! This doesn’t feel right anymore. This thing is…it’s scary. This thing needs to be out there, murdering other living things and eating them!”
This joke is both classic Seinfeld, but a great joke for parents, too. No matter how old your kids are, on some level, you know, in the back of your mind, that they are going to grow and change. What was once cute, will suddenly become dangerous. And for those of us nursing our wounds inflicted by our own children — at any age — Seinfeld reminds us that, yes, all parents, at some point, think their children are wild animals. Particularly when they grow up.
The new Jerry Seinfeld special — 23 Hours To Kill — is streaming on Netflix now. It’s an hour long. It’s not the best stuff he’s ever done, but for those of us who grew up with him, it’s not bad at all. And for those who are hating on this special, I’ve got one thing to say to you: What’s the deal with that?