Comedians in Cares Getting Coffee

What is it with TV and cars these days? Carpool Karaoke made James Corden a global superstar, while Peter Kay’s Car Share set iPlayer records tumbling. How long before Huw Edwards surrenders to the inevitable and starts presenting The 10 O’Clock News from behind the wheel of a Vauxhall Corsa?

Jerry Seinfeld’s contribution to the genre, which has just transferred to Netflix after six years online, is noticeably more Hollywood, even than Corden’s. For a start, he drives a series of very expensive vintage cars – a 1976 Lambhourgini Countach here, a 60s E-Type Jag there – and each episode begins with him drooling over its horsepower, top speed or ‘red leatherette interior’ like a better dressed Jeremy Clarkson.

He’s La La Land gushy, too, whether introducing the ‘amazingly versatile, visually spectacular and unforgettably gifted’ Jim Carrey or bigging up the ‘unbelievably talented and funny’ Kristen Wiig.

Most of the actual talking is done outside the car, over coffee or lunch. Except Carrey, who doesn’t appear to eat food, and explains that he’s about to go on a ‘silent retreat’. I’d love to have heard Peter Kay’s response to that, but Sienfeld treats it like the most normal thing in the world. Which it probably is, in Hollywood. Wiig, meanwhile, claims to like mushroom coffee, and says she’s working on ‘a ukulele album’. Well aren’t we all?

There’s a slightly nepotistic smugness to the whole enterprise that seems to assume the audience lives in the same rarefied Hollywood bubble as the stars. Plus, comedians discussing the craft and business of comedy is rarely actually funny.

When the guest is witty and charming, like Alec Baldwin or Tina Fey, it just about works. But the host is understated to the point of invisible and, on the basis of their in-car output alone, you’d have to conclude that – and broadsheet critics may wish to have the smelling salts to hand at this point – Jerry Seinfeld is less funny than James Corden.

Seinfeld’s sitcom – which was massive in America, though us Brits always preferred Friends – was famously described as ‘a show about nothing’. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is, if anything, about even less.

TV extra:


A Vicar’s Life

If this charming new documentary series is to believed, life in the CofE’s most rural patch is no Eden for a clergy ‘fighting to stay relevant’ to an increasingly faithless flock. I smiled when one vicar told an elderly parishioner to ‘WhatsApp me if there’s anything you need’’ meanwhile Matthew, vicar of the chocolate box parish of Much Wenlock, was so delighted when one couple agreed to marry in church, he had their names embroidered on his vestments. It’s less drastic than a tattoo, I suppose.


Room 101

The comedy show where guests get to banish their pet hates may have found its perfect guest in the famously dyspeptic Charlie Brooker, who wasted no time in citing Sturgeon’s Law – the theory that ‘90% of everything is rubbish’ – and offered as his first choice ‘anything I don’t want to do’. Which sounds fair enough to me. Other highlights included Frank Skinner forcing mincemeat through a Croc shoe, and Scarlett Moffat asking: ‘Evaporated milk – how is it there?’ It’s good to have it back.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, January 18, 2018

(c) Waitrose Weekend