David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
Jerry Seinfeld’s Web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” consists of little more than Mr. Seinfeld driving around and chatting about work and life with other comedians in 10- to 20-minute episodes shot on sunny days in and around New York or Los Angeles. Among its most frequent topics are his wealth and copious free time — “Coffee, liquor, money, is that your life now?” his “Seinfeld” cast mate Michael Richards asks — and these seem to be reflected in the show’s indolent, contented rhythms and (for short-format online video) high production values.
“Comedians in Cars” can feel like a vanity project, and during the sequences set in coffee shops, where Mr. Seinfeld and his friends discuss their craft and tell long, loud stories that might eventually be worked into routines, you’re glad you weren’t sitting at the next table. The force of Mr. Seinfeld’s personality — his overpowering, slightly frightening amiability — remains strong, however, and it’s easy to get sucked in. If you click on one of the episodes at Crackle.com, you’ll have sat through four or five before you know it.
The key to each episode’s success is the guest’s rapport with Mr. Seinfeld and the degree to which he realizes that it’s not enough to just riff and giggle — that even online chitchat takes work. In the show’s first season, Bob Einstein and Alec Baldwin got it: the episode featuring Mr. Baldwin, the only noncomedian among the guests, was easily the best. Season 2, beginning on Thursday, gets off to a good start with Sarah Silverman and, scheduled for next Thursday, David Letterman.
(It should be pointed out that Ms. Silverman is the first woman to be featured on the show and that among the first season’s 12 guests, 11 were white men. The only nonwhite guest, Mario Joyner, had to share an episode with Colin Quinn.)
Of particular note is the appearance of Mr. Letterman, who rarely performs outside his own talk show. For Mr. Seinfeld it’s a double get: He persuades Mr. Letterman to take a ride to the Green Granary cafe in New Milford, Conn., and he is allowed to drive the car that Paul Newman built for Mr. Letterman. The ultimate suburban Connecticut driving machine, it’s a custom Volvo station wagon with a turbocharged V-8 engine.
As with most “Comedians in Cars” episodes, nothing of great substance or hilarity is said; satisfaction comes (if you’re so inclined) from being in the company of two titans of comedy while they reminisce about Johnny Carson and compare notes on walking their dogs. You get to see Mr. Letterman’s Connecticut morning look — T-shirt and white stubble — and watch Mr. Seinfeld drive with no hands on the wheel, cut in front of other cars and pass on the right.
The episode stands out, though, as a meeting of equals, a situation Mr. Letterman slyly alludes to. “Can we just ask these people to leave?” he says, looking around the crowded restaurant.
“We don’t own this place,” Mr. Seinfeld says.
To which Mr. Letterman, perfectly capturing the Seinfeld-Letterman vibe, replies, “We can change that, can’t we?”
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