Last Friday I saw Jerry Seinfeld at the O2. I sat amongst people who had paid hundreds of pounds for their seats. Many of them comics. My seat – my Row L,,central block, aisle seat – came courtesy of Mel Brown of Impressive PR. And not because I was going to write a review. I wasn’t. Jerry Seinfeld is about as sexy as Pastrami on Rye. I was never particularly a fan of Jerry Seinfeld. And so I arrived ‘dry’, as it were, as opposed to the state of comedic lubrication enjoyed by most of the people who surrounded me.
The pre-Seinfeld music was Sinatra. Filling the huge, soulless space with soul. The sound wrapping itself around the auditorium and everyone in it and making it its own – albeit both disembodied and post-mortem. But apt, I realised, not long after the dapper, unremarkable figure of Jerry Seinfeld took to the stage. What Sinatra is to music, Seinfeld is to comedy. ‘Easy listening’, Seinfeld onstage looks and sounds relaxed. There are no shocks or tricks, there is nothing to make you gasp or jump. The 90 minutes is a comedy masterclass. It – he – takes you to a place where nothing can go wrong. Like watching John Currie skate, listening to Joan Sutherland sing. He is gentle, personal, conversational. To two and a half thousand people. He talks about marriage and cheese, garbage and cookies. And, at the end, you find yourself thinking that the next one hundred comedy gigs you go to will pall in comparison.
We have so much nowadays. So much of everything. So much choice. So many options. Which is great. So much peer pressure to use all those options. Which is less great.
So I have a soya, decaf, wet, caramel, lo-cal frappuccino with a twist. I have Bacon and Dolcelatte Icecream in a Dill Pickle Wafer. And I go to gigs where comics wank off over the audience, self harm as an opener and end by being arrested for incitement to violence. I can only admit to enjoying sex if it includes five other people, a Hornby train set and a hitherto undiscovered orifice.
But – oddly, I admit – what occurred to me, as I relaxed and gave myself up to the mastery of Jerry Seinfeld last night, was that the one, eternal, undeniable turn on, In anything – any art, any skill – is just that. Mastery. It is irresistible. Inexorable.
And you don’t find it very often in a world in thrall to and in search of ‘the new way’ to enjoyment.
I do thrill at the thought of going to a Doug Stanhope gig. I do get a glorious buzz from the intellectual comedic nihilism of Stuart Lee. I do crave risk, I am hot for psychological self-harming in comedy.
Just as I thrill at the thought of a night in a dark basement with Master Alex and his assortment of whips. As I fantasise about a zipless fuck in a cupboard with someone I meet at an academic symposium, as I am hot for impromptu frantic sex with uptight women and damaged men.
But, very occasionally I am taken to bed by someone who is, simply, a fabulous lover. No tricks, no gymnastics, no toys. No need.
Sometimes I hear Sinatra sing.
Sometimes I get the chance to go to a Jerry Seinfeld gig.