Jerry Seinfeld Reflects on His 'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' Interview Style and Favorite Guests
After nine seasons, the star’s series earned its fourth Emmy nomination, as he looks back on memorable episodes and explains why the Netflix show "is an absolute trifle."
In July 2012, Jerry Seinfeld premiered Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee on Sony's digital platform Crackle, scooping up his funny friends in vintage cars and going for a drive and a coffee date at a local spot. After nine seasons, the show was picked up in 2017 by Netflix for season 10, which earned the series its fourth Emmy nomination — and its first in the informational series or special category. The season's guests included Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Lewis (filmed a few months before the icon's 2017 death). Days before the 11th season's July 19 debut, Seinfeld, 65, sat down with THR to talk awards, favorite guests and toothpaste brands.
Moving from Crackle to Netflix, how has the show changed over time?
When I get to the editing part of it, I know better what I want to make the show into. Although each show kind of is its own thing and takes me in a different direction, I go, "This one I think is going to be about this, and this one is going to be about this." When you start, you have three hours of material, so let's say you pick out 20 items and you know you can only use 10 of those. It becomes quite a puzzle to assemble it.
Do you have a favorite episode from over the course of the show?
I'm really excited about Eddie Murphy this year because I think a lot of times with interviewers, if I can call myself that, it's like a nut you want to crack. You want to get inside the shell and get to the nut inside — literally, in my case. And I feel like we brought a certain perspective on Eddie that people really want to see and maybe have been missing. It's hard to see these people in the conventional press format that they do; it's hard to get to that person. I think something like Larry King and Charlie Rose, those were the shows where you really — but even on those shows, they don't work as well because the only one who can talk to most people is someone that does what they do, they know how to talk. I think they should just have interviewers on those shows.
How did getting Eddie on the show come about?
We're both from Long Island, we both started at the same club on the same week, the first week of July 1976, and I thought people would really like to see him again. The show's about the life of stand-ups and what our life is like. [A stand-up] show is only an hour; the other 23 hours a day, this is what you're doing.
Do you have someone you still really want to get on the show?
I haven't really thought about it. I don't know if we're continuing at this point. There's a lot of people I'd like to have back — I like doing multiple episodes with certain people.
How do you pick the guests? Do you have a wish list?
It's a very casual thing, it really is. That was the idea: Let's try to make something. It couldn't be more of a trifle, even though we kill ourselves to make them. The show itself is an absolute trifle. That's what comedy is — it's a trifle, it's a cupcake.
You got another Emmy nom for the show. Is that still exciting for you?
It's lovely, it's wonderful. Any time people like what you're doing, it's wonderful.
You mentioned in this season's promos that a lot of copycat shows have popped up. How do you feel about people using your format?
It's just like people saw what I did and said, "That's kind of nice, that's kind of different, let's do that." Does it really bother me? Absolutely not, it was just a bit.
How do you prepare for these interviews?
I don't. There's no preparation, just a hang.
Do you research them beforehand if you don't really know them?
Nope, I look up where they grew up and if they have any kids, just big basic stuff like that, just an interesting person to talk to. I never want to talk about the regular things anyway — they don't interest me. I want to know what toothpaste you use and what you think of these Waterpiks and if they really do anything.
Do you have a preference for who should host the Emmys, or should they go hostless like the Oscars?
I don't know. Maybe we should have lots of hosts — but I guess that's who the presenters are. I don't know, they seem to be struggling with their awards show: "Who are we now? What is this show now?" It seems to be like it's lost its footing a little bit, the awards show.
Would you ever want to do it?
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.