What’s the Deal with Pop Tarts? Jerry Seinfeld Explains How to Write a Joke

This week The New York Times Mag­a­zine pub­lished a sto­ry titled “Jer­ry Sein­feld Intends to Die Stand­ing Up,” fill­ing us in on what the come­di­an has been up to in the 14 years since Sein­feld, the sit­com that seemed to define the ’90s, went off the air. As Jon­ah Wein­er explains, Sein­feld has been “liv­ing the life of a road com­ic, albeit one who sells out 20,000-seat Lon­don are­nas and schleps to gigs via char­tered planes rather than rent­ed sub­com­pacts.”

Despite his great wealth, Sein­feld has cho­sen to devote part of almost every week since 2000 (two years after the end of the TV show) to doing stand-up com­e­dy. At 58, Sein­feld remains ful­ly com­mit­ted to the craft of telling jokes to a room­ful of strangers. As he tells Wein­er, he sees him­self more as an exact­ing ath­lete than a tor­tured artist. “I’m not fill­ing a deep emo­tion­al hole here,” Sein­feld says. “I’m play­ing a very dif­fi­cult game, and if you’d like to see some­one who’s very good at a dif­fi­cult game, that’s what I do.”

And if you’d like to learn a lit­tle about how the game of stand-up com­e­dy is played, the Times has post­ed this inter­est­ing five-minute video in which Sein­feld explains the evo­lu­tion of a joke, from sim­ple child­hood obser­va­tion to care­ful­ly thought-out gag. “Where­as most come­di­ans are lazy bas­tards,” Sarah Sil­ver­man says of Sein­feld, “he’s the ulti­mate crafts­man.”

Relat­ed con­tent:

Come­di­ans in Cars Get­ting Cof­fee: Jer­ry Sein­feld’s New Series Debuts on the Web

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