Barack Obama may or may not be the funniest president of the United States ever elected, but he certainly has proven himself adept at any opportunities to display his sense of humor.
From an appearance on Funny or Die’s Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis to his annual speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — which has upstaged at least a couple of the famous comedians picked to follow him on that dais over the past seven years — to now kicking off the seventh season of Jerry Seinfeld’s Crackle webseries, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Seinfeld, who drove a 1963 blue Corvette Stingray to the White House to meet Obama, said the Commander In Chief, “in my opinion, has gotten off just enough funny lines to qualify for getting on this show.”
Anyhow, as another recent POTUS once said, the history books will decide his legacy. And aren’t history books written by the winners? And even if you don’t think of Obama as a winner, can’t you at least agree that tragedy plus time equals comedy? We’ll all laugh about this someday.
On second thought…
I took a fresh look at the first six seasons of Seinfeld’s auto-subsidized coffee comedy klatch, and with the passage of time, some of these episodes provide laughs or provoke a response for entirely new reasons.
To wit! In a first season episode with Bob “Super Dave Osborne” Einstein that aired in 2012, Einstein asked Seinfeld what’s worse, kids getting drunk on hand sanitizer or the E! channel picking up three more seasons of the Kardashians? Einstein’s follow-up: “The only Kardashian I’d have sex with is Bruce. He wears those two earrings now. This was a decathlete, you know.” Seinfeld replies: “I know. Maybe that represents the rings competition.” “I don’t think it does,” Einstein said.
In a second-season episode from 2013, Seinfeld introduces his guest as “one of the faces that in my opinion would be on the Mount Rushmore of stand-up comedy, Mr. Don Rickles. The other three are Pryor, Carlin and Cosby, by the way.” Would you still put Cos on Mount Rushmore, Jerry?
And in an early 2014 episode with Tina Fey, Seinfeld asks her “what you’d love to find yourself doing in a year.” Fey’s reply? “I’d like to write another movie, because I only wrote one movie. It’s hard to have that much kind of fire in your belly.” As much as we’re anticipating season two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix in 2016, we’d all still love to see you write another movie, Tina!
But back to Seinfeld’s very special guest for the seventh-season premiere: Thanks, Obama!
Obama scores points by recognizing his true fans. “I do really well with the zero to 8 demographic,” he told Seinfeld in the White House driveway. “Yeah, they love me. Partly, I think, because my ears are big, so I look a little like a cartoon character. And then little kids love saying my name. But it’s all one big name. Barackobama.”
POTUS also fired this zinger at Jerry: “I always wanted to be in a show about nothing, and here I am.” And in an outtake, Obama tells his Secret Service to stand down when Seinfeld pops up outside the Oval Office windows. “He’s a very funny guy. We all like him. My poll numbers would go down if you did harm to Jerry Seinfeld.”
All the points, meanwhile, to the mystery woman who sits behind Seinfeld in the White House break room kitchen. Who is she, whom was she talking to and please have Netflix make a 10-hour documentary about her?
Minus points, though, for calling himself cool. That’s never cool. Even if you’re Obama.
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.