Jerry Seinfeld gave a new interview with the New York Times before the announcement of his upcoming Beacon Theatre residency, which he says is returning in 2019 with 20 shows after taking 2018 off -
stay tuned for more details on that (update: it's announced). He also touched on some current events affecting the world of comedy (and beyond), like Louis CK's return to stand-up comedy, less than 12 months after admitting to sexual misconduct. When asked, "is it too soon for Louis C.K. to be performing again?" Jerry responded:
No. It’s the way he did it that I think people didn’t like. Some people didn’t like that he’s doing it at all. We know the routine: The person does something wrong. The person’s humiliated. They’re exiled. They suffer, we want them to suffer. We love the tumble, we love the crash and bang of the fall. And then we love the crawl-back. The grovel. Are you going to grovel? How long are you going to grovel? Are you going to cry? Are you going to Jimmy Swaggart? And people, I think, figured they had that coming with Louie — he owes us that. We, the court of public opinion, decided if he’s going to come back, he’d better show a lot of pain. Because he denied them that.
The interview continues:
Q: You don’t think he should stay away from the stage right now?
J: I can’t say what he should do. You do whatever you want. If he does it wrong, he’s going to suffer. And that’s his deal.
Q: So you don’t have any objection to his coming back?
J: If there’s a crime here, and the law gets involved, that’s what the law is for. The laws of comedy, we kind of make them up as we go. Part of entertainment, sometimes, is the life of the person. We want that to entertain us, too, as part of the act. We like your show, and then we like your messed-up life. That entertains us as well. When you saw Richard Pryor, it was more than just the act. You’re in the room with this guy who lived this crazy life. Somebody said it’s the first time that someone has misbehaved where all people ask about is, “How’s the perpetrator? How’s he doing?” They don’t ask, “How’s the victim?”
Sarah Silverman recently told Howard Stern that Louis masturbated in front of her, too, with her consent, then apologized for her comments after being called out by one of Louis's accusers. Jerry commented on that situation as well:
J: Didn’t Sarah Silverman say the other day that she was doing this stuff with him?
Q:In her case, it was consensual.
J: [Deeply sarcastic] That’s fantastic.
Jerry was also asked about a hero of his, Bill Cosby, who was sentenced to prison time and ruled a "sexually violent predator", as well as Roseanne Barr, whose ABC series was cancelled after a racist tweet.
Q:Before the revelations of his crimes, was Bill Cosby someone you had admired?
J: I totally did. But when that happens, that’s too big a safe falling out of a window to ignore. The crash is too loud. The thing I think that’s new for people — let’s take Roseanne and Cosby — is the suddenness and the precipitous fall. So much work, gone so fast. We’re upset at the speed of it, because it’s new. I would say about Roseanne, I never saw anything that bad happen from a finger-tap on a screen. A whole career: gone. That’s an aspect of this unease we feel, that you just wake up — “Oh, by the way, the Lincoln Memorial’s gone.” “What?” “Yeah, they took it down. They found out Lincoln was fooling around and they took it down.” “Oh, my God. All right, I guess I have to adjust to that. I really liked the Lincoln Memorial.”
Q: There were previous, less noticed instances of her offensive behavior on social media. Did her firing seem sudden to you?
J: Of course it did. Not unjustified, but that is just how it played. They just went: You’re done. That is a new kind of moment. Usually, there’s a crumbling, a crack — someone tries to get in there with some Spackle. Maybe we can rebar this, maybe we can scaffold it. That’s what’s more typical.
Q: In the case of Cosby, have you had to reassess why you idolized him in the first place?
J: Obviously I didn’t know anything [about his crimes]. Do I rethink idolatry? No, I will not give up on having heroes. I know you can get hurt, but I am a hopeful person. I like to believe in people. I said to Ellen DeGeneres, humans — we have an abusive relationship with each other. We hate other people. We despise them. And then we see somebody play a beautiful piano concerto and we go, “Oh, people are the best.” They get us right back for more abuse.
In a 2015 ESPN Radio interview, Jerry said that comedians have begun to avoid performing on college campuses, because of a growing trend of politically correct culture there. "[The younger generation] just want to use these words," Jerry said. "'That's racist, that's sexist, that's prejudice.' They don’t even know what they’re talking about." "I hear that all the time," he continued. "I don't play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me don't go near colleges — they're so PC (politically correct)." Talking to the New York Times, though, Jerry insisted that he's not actually against performing at colleges:
Q: Do you have a distaste for college crowds?
J: I’ve never experienced that.
Q: In the new season of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” you say, “It’s so weird that colleges have become places of restricted thought, as opposed to thought freedom.”
J: No. I said, “I heard someone say——” That’s what I said. It got changed to, “I said.”
Q: So you don’t object to playing colleges?
J: No! I play colleges all the time. I would never say there’s any place I don’t like these audiences. My job is the opposite of that. I want to make them like what I do. I don’t always succeed but that’s my job. And never blame them, never. The worst possible situation — the deadest, most hostile crowd — I don’t care. It’s still my puzzle. That’s a professional attitude that I’d never ever compromise.
Read the full interview here.