It's taken six episodes, a muffin top life preserver, a few rousing renditions of "Officer Krupke," and one dead black swan, but Larry and Jerry have finally gotten their Seinfeld non-reunion reunion off the ground. There's a set! (It looks pretty much like the old Seinfeld set, but slightly updated.) There's a cast—including beloved supporting characters like Bania, Mrs. Costanza, and Jerry's TV nemesis, Newman. And, of course, there's a script!
Tonight's table read gave a special kind of Seinfeld fan—namely, the kind who would be very, very into an actual reunion show, the kind that Cheryl referred to back in episode three when she said, "People love reunion shows. They love to see the actors...what they're up to!"—a glimpse into what their favorite Seinfeld character would be up to if those characters returned to the airwaves in our universe, as opposed to the airwaves in Curb's alternate universe. So what's up with those characters? Well: George got married to a woman named Amanda and got rich off of an iPhone app called iToilet. But George being George, he invested with Bernie Madoff, and lost half of his fortune. Now he's trying to win his ex-wife back—not for love, but for his money. Jerry apparently fathered Elaine's daughter Isabel, and is now known to Isabel as only "Uncle Jerry." Kramer really wants to use the carpool lane for some reason. Oh, and Jerry still lives in the same building with the same Newman.
I love Seinfeld, and though it was fun, and occasionally funny, to see the whole cast hit those same Seinfeldian beats at the table read, I am so glad this isn't actually Seinfeld: The Reunion. For one thing, reunion shows are unmitigatingly lame. (Non-reunion shows, on the other hand, are unwaveringly awesome.) And for another thing, I never wondered where the Seinfeld characters ended up in their "lives" after the show ended. No one watched Seinfeld because they were invested in the characters' lives, and just really wanted Jerry or Elaine or George to find happiness. You watched Seinfeld because it was funny. I want to remember the Seinfeld characters as I last saw them: In jail for some dumb Good Samaritan law—not eleven years later and still living in the same apartment, donating sperm, talking about the unwritten laws of restaurant napkin usage, and telling Madoff jokes.
But the main reason Seinfeld fans everywhere should be happy this isn't actually Seinfeld:The Reunion, is because this is funnier. In Seinfeld: The Reunion, we wouldn't get to see Larry David text to a 9-year-old "No, I don't watch Wizards Of Waverly Place. I'M AN ADULT!!!" We wouldn't get to watch Funkhouser laboriously tell the longest, grossest dirty joke he could think of to Jerry ("P.S. Your cunt's in the sink"), much to Larry's extreme annoyance. We wouldn't get to see Leon—dressed as Louis Farrakhan—pretend to be a Groat's disease sufferer named Danny Duberstein, and hilariously counsel Michael Richards about the disease ("Everything I ate tasted like peaches! I forgot how to multiply!") And, of course, we also wouldn't get to see Michael Richards accidentally step into his second verbal assault on a black man to go viral in three years.
Michael Richards' entire interaction with Leon/Danny Duberstein was not only very funny, but a brilliant way to address the racist elephant in the room. At the beginning of the episode, Richards told Larry, "I don't know if I can be funny with this hanging over my head." He was referring to his possible diagnosis of Groat's Disease, but really it was a reference to his racist outburst on stage at the Laugh Factory three years ago. Could Richards be funny again? Would we laugh at him with that racist outburst still hanging in a fog around him? When Richards opened the door to find Leon standing there, and he said, "Look! I made a mistake. It's been three years. Don't hurt me, please!" we got our answers: Yes, he could be funny—especially when he's willing to make fun of his mistake.
Still, if I had to pick one word, one theme that dominated tonight's episode, it wouldn't be "Richards" or even "Seinfeld" it would be "orifice." There was a lot of talk of orifices in this episode—from Jason Alexander's abuse of Larry's pen ("It was in every orifice of your body."), to Funkhouser's vivid telling of a liver-stuffed orifice joke, to the worst mother in the world telling everyone at work that her nine-year-old daughter has "a rash on her pussy." No wonder Emma took such a shine to Larry—literally any other adult would be an improvement over her embarrassing mom. Oh, and Larry likes saying "pussy" too.
--The doctor at the end quietly leaving the exam room and telling the nurse, "Call the police," while Larry laughed at a text from his 9-year-old best friend was just hilarious.
--"Who are these two right here?" "Who is that fat motherfucker?" Leon should do the commentary track for a Seinfeld DVD.
--"No, you gotta do that once every 13 years. You gotta recharge the mitzvah." Leon should also do commentary tracks for all Bar Mitzvah home videos.
--So iToilet finds you the closest, most acceptable public toilet? Wouldn't it just be easier to use this?
--"You don't loan Jason anything that can be inserted." Words to remember, Jerry, words to remember.
--"It's not an eye for a lesser eye. This pen is almost blind compared to my pen."
--Jason Alexander's and Julia Louis-Dreyfus' passive agressive (and sometimes agressive-agressive) taunting of Larry for giving Cheryl a big role was a thing of beauty and many, many laughs.
--Funkhouser sitting, smiling, in the risers during the table read was almost as funny as Jason Alexander essentially violating Larry's pen at the table.