Jerry Seinfeld is a guy with a reputation for caring about jokes and comedy above all else (give or take a cup of coffee or a fancy car). Seinfeld doubled down on that humor-over-everything attitude last week, when he went on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and the two ended up on the subject of comedy legend and (repeatedly) accused rapist Bill Cosby. Seinfeld seemed legitimately shocked when Colbert—who outright said Cosby “saved his life” when he was a kid, playing his records over and over in the wake of the plane crash that killed his father and brothers—said he could no longer listen to the comic’s work. “I know it’s tragic,” Seinfeld said at the time, apparently disagreeing (and confusing “sad” with “disgusting and infuriating.”) “But there’s a lot of tragedy in comedy.”
After the break, though, Seinfeld changed his mind, stating that he could no longer separate Cosby’s actions and his work, either. He reiterated that same change of opinion last night, during a 90-minute talk with New Yorker editor David Remnick, as part of a New Yorker Festival event:
I kind of thought that I would separate comedy from life, because so many comedians have horrible lives, and they’re oftentimes people you don’t admire, or they’re not likable. And I didn’t want that to ruin my appreciation of their comedy. But I had to admit, as we discussed it, the more I thought about it, I couldn’t listen to [Cosby’s work] and enjoy it in the same way that I did before, and I was not able to separate it. So the wall kind of caved in.
Seinfeld—apparently in a very mellow mood—also discussed his complicated feelings toward Jerry Lewis, and even seemed to relent on his stance on “PC culture.” After a clip was shown from the Seinfeld episode “The Cigar Store Indian,” Seinfeld noted, “You could never do that today.” But when asked whether that was necessarily a bad thing, he simply shrugged. “One door closes, another opens…There’s always a joke; you’ve just got to find it.”
That being said, don’t expect Seinfeld—even at his most affable—to take any responsibility for Brietbart ruler Steve Bannon, whose investment in Seinfeld the show has reportedly earned him a great deal of money in syndication fees. “There are dozens and dozens of investors and people that you never meet or know about,” said Seinfeld, who also stated he has never met Bannon. “These are giant, multi-national corporations of, you know, NBC, which then became Turner, and then got bought by Comcast, so I mean, I don’t know.”
[Correction: A previous version of this story failed to note that Seinfeld discussed his new position on Cosby’s work on a second, later portion of his Late Show appearance, and stated incorrectly that he first mentioned his altered stance during the New Yorker event. We regret the error.]