Is This Anything?

Bob’s Pick: Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld

You are walking down the streets of New York City at night. Depending upon what streets in New York, this can sometimes be a harrowing or terrifying experience.  But hold on, not to worry. You happen to be in Times Square! 

The air is electrifying, the crowds are bustling and the night is so illuminated by glowing billboards and signs, it feels like daytime.  You exhale a big sigh of relief! Unlike the crowded subway train and station that you just departed with its stale smells and cramped conditions, you can finally breathe and move again. You’re at the heart of the city that never sleeps and move to its ever quickening pulse.

You’re headed down Broadway, but make a quick right onto 42nd Street going west. You pass Madame Tussuad’s and wave at the Samuel L. Jackson replica out front.  Did he wave back? You keep going. You’re nearing the NY Port Authority bus terminal and you have to dodge taxis just to cross the street.

Only one more block to go. Police are rousting some homeless people sleeping over subway grates. You can hear the blare of emergency vehicles speeding down 8th avenue.  A street vendor tries to sell you a baseball cap that reads, “ I (heart) NY”.  You start to walk faster. You are almost there.

Finally, you are on 9th Avenue.  You have arrived, There in front of you is the “IMPROV”, one of New York’s premier comedy clubs. Headlining the stars tonight is none other than Jerry Seinfeld!

What a thrill it would be to actually go to New York or Los Angeles and see Mr. Seinfeld’s comedy routine in person. Second best option is to read the book, “Is this Anything?”  To add more flavor to the book, I provided the New York City backdrop so that readers could imagine that they actually were magically transported to  New York and going to see Seinfeld. Is this anything?

In his book, “Is This Anything”,  Seinfeld gives the reader a glimpse of what it is really like to be a stand-up comedian. Like a time machine, he transports us back starting from his early career in the 1970’s. The name of the book refers to the question comedians would ask each other before going live onstage when they wished to know if the material or gags they had would appeal to an audience and was humorous or funny .

Seinfeld digs through his archives. They consist of hundreds of routines he recorded in various notebooks and scraps of paper throughout his career.  Like in his television series, “Seinfeld”, the focus of his routines are the quirks and foibles of human nature found in everyday life.  His routines are masterful and I found myself laughing or guffawing throughout most of his book.

 Unlike many other comedians of today, Jerry Seinfeld, for the most part, manages to keep his topics and language clean. I find that appealing as it proves that everyday life can be funny in and of itself. In this age of the “corona virus”, Seinfeld even manages to joke about that.  With having to always wear a mask, it is good to be able to see the humorous side to life and grab a needed breath of  fresh air. Jerry Seinfeld’s humor is that needed breath of fresh air!