'Artists are always looking for new things'

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Artists are always looking for new things

Seinfeld finds new 'space and place' with Web series.


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Published: Tue 13 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 14 Oct 2015, 10:58 AM

What was he thinking?
Jerry Seinfeld could have picked anywhere to make his hit show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. So why did the star of one of the most popular TV shows of all time make a Web series - one that features him picking up comics in classic cars and taking them out to banter over coffee - and then put it on Crackle, a network few people had ever heard of?
Seinfeld explained his thinking in a phone interview.
You could have taken this show anywhere. Why did you choose to do it as a Web series?
Artists are always looking for new things and fresh ground and fresh air. If it feels new to me, there's a chance it'll feel new to the audience and we'll have found something. Having done quite a bit with studios and networks, I thought if I'm going to do something new and unformed, it would be fun to do it in a completely new space and place. The space being the Internet and the place being Crackle.
Did you shop this around to other online places, like Netflix or HBO?
To be honest, none of them offered the creative freedom I wanted but Crackle. Some people I talked to said, "I love the show, I'd like to put it on our service, but we want to decide which comedians you should have on."
I guess they would know who was funny better than me. I don't want to be in a relationship like that. That's a fight before you even open the door.
None of the episodes have a fixed length. Is that what you mean by freedom?
One of the wonderful things about this medium is it doesn't have these predetermined templates and you can shrink wrap the content over what you think is the best show. That isn't available on TV networks.
On the Internet, it's like "Don't show me more than you've got. If you've got 3 minutes, show me 3 minutes. Don't pad it. Don't pump air into it."
You've said on the show that your kids watch everything on their phones.
Smartphones came out, maybe a couple years after that, I went, "That's a TV."
Maybe people were uncomfortable calling it a TV. To me, what's the difference? It's pictures through the air, that's what television means.
We heard the show kicked off with a single Facebook post.
We didn't promote it and just kind of threw it out there. What's fun now is when you see something someone else hasn't. We made it a thing that the Internet itself would self-promote, because the medium is so fluid.
People would take it and share it and send it. The whole thing just seemed like a fun new game. No one has seen anything anymore. If you see something and you love it, good luck finding someone else who has seen it.
It's just a different way of consuming media right now. These movies that make a billion dollars? I can't find one person that's seen it. It doesn't matter, it's just a different paradigm.
Some of the hacked documents said Sony was preparing to give or sell you a 10 percent stake in Crackle, worth tens of millions of dollars. Is that true?
I really like being there, I'm really happy there and we are talking about different ways that we can work together. Those talks are ongoing.
Your show only has one sponsor. Why is that?
My show has a sponsor, Acura, who has been wonderful to us. So that's how we made it into a modest business. It just enabled us to go forward and now we've found a nice audience. I like it because it's only one person to deal with. It gives the show a kind of clean feel.
It sounds like at this point in your career, fewer headaches is a bigger motivator than big bucks.
For people on my side of the cubicle, the goal is always creativity. Spending your time overcoming corporate resistance to creativity - I just don't want to do that. The only way a show works is you find people who you think are qualified and talented and you give them a chance to do what they do. Interfering does not increase the odds of success. If they're giving you money, they want to come into the sandbox ... but that ruins it. Having fun is a very particular skill. And not everyone has that skill.
It does seem like you have a lot of fun.
We have tons of fun. There's really not much to making it. I don't really prepare anything. The fun part is assembling it afterwards.
Where do you get your car ideas?
I've been car crazy my whole life, since I was nine years old. It's just something I'm very aware of.
Do you drink a lot of coffee?
A lot of coffee. I didn't start drinking until a few years ago, more now that I'm doing the show. I love the kind of simplicity. To me, you don't need a lot to have a good time. I think vacations are mostly completely stupid. Going to have coffee with a friend, you're probably going to have more fun than if you go to Aruba.
You've interviewed so many great comedians. Who's left?
There are some other venues as well that we're exploring. They have to be people that I think are funny. They might not be professional comedians, but they have a sense of humour about them. AP

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