Seinfeld at the Akoo Theatre | Comedy review

Anyone who doesn’t like Jerry Seinfeld is an asshole. Sure, he sold out a bit with those AmEx ads. His Bee Movie character was less memorable than Antonio Banderas’ winged alter ego in the Nasonex commercials. And he remains far too chummy with NBC, both because of his Marriage Ref payday and seeming to side against Conan in the Jaypocalypse. But Seinfeld was—and is—phenomenal at what he does. And if you love television, seeing him do standup is nostalgic in the best way, since Seinfeld can be credited for so much of what we watch today. Without his sitcom, there would be no Curb Your Enthusiasm, no Liz Lemon, no Louie.


Saturday night at 7:30, Seinfeld emerged for the first of two shows at the Akoo Theatre at Rosemont (formerly the Rosemont Theatre). After getting tangled with a crowd headed into a nearby car show, I arrived one-third in. Most of the 4,300 seats were filled, a testament to Seinfeld’s appeal—though his re-runs air non-stop, people will still pay $45-$75 in these economically calamitous times to see a 1 percenter tell jokes.


Despite his many millions, ordinary topics prevailed—domestic life, verbal unnecessaries, our fixations on caffeine and technology. “You don’t drink coffee. You have coffee. You have sex, you have surgery, you have second thoughts…People walk down the street and they hold these cups out like they won an award.”  He delved into phone etiquette at length: “Why are people still telling you to leave your name and number on phone machines?” and “You know what I miss about a call? When you could slam them down when you’re angry.” While he evoked a simpler time, Seinfeld didn’t sound too removed: he said “God damn” and “balls.” Also, he was unexpectedly animated —screamy and screechy, over-enunciating, and even lying down onstage in his gold tie and four-figure suit.


He drew the contradiction between our desperate need to communicate and aversion to face-to-face conversations. “Connecting with people is why there’s lawyers, mace, and cease and desist orders,” he said. And the 57-year-old addressed his prolonged bachelorhood: “I didn’t get married until 45…I had issues; but I enjoyed them while I had them.” “You’ve got a girlfriend? That’s whiffleball… Being married is like being in a game show and you’re always in the lightening round—‘I’ll take movies I think we saw together for 200.’ ‘Sorry sir, you did not win the weekend sex package or the guilt-free sporting event. Take that garbage on your way out of the studio.’”


When he used to meet couples with children, Seinfeld admitted thinking, “Why would you ruin your life like that?” But in his most wicked quip, he revealed his evolved take as a father of three. “Do you find that other people’s children never look quite right?”


After a 75-minute set, he bowed to a standing ovation, and dashed off stage. Fifteen seconds later, he reappeared, waving in the spotlight, and took questions as a quick encore (Yes, he eats his wife’s vegetables). The last inquiry generated his very best line. “Do I miss Seinfeld? Well no, I don’t miss it, because I am Seinfeld.”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)