Asked how it felt to be back doing live standup comedy on Broadway after years of turning out the TV sitcom that bore his name, Jerry Seinfeld answered, "Did you ever take a dog to the park and take his leash off? He kind of looks up at you for a second, then bolts like a maniac. It's something like that."
It was Seinfeld's way of explaining to the New York theatrical reporters at an Aug. 4 press conference (at HBO Media Center in midtown Manhattan) why he decided to follow the finale of his TV show with an international tour and a five-day concert performance on Broadway this week, instead of taking a traditional vacation. "Standup for me is not like work. It's a very liberating type of performance. A weekly show is very complicated... complex and demanding... I've been on beaches, I've been on boats. It's pleasant, but not really a lot of fun... Standup is a way to feel free. To be in front of an audience is the most fun I can have. "
Jerry Seinfeld: I'm Telling You for the Last Time will play Aug. 5-9 at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre. The final performance will be broadcast live, 9 PM Aug. 9 on HBO. Universal Records will release a CD of the event -- Seinfeld's first CD -- Sept. 22.
Seinfeld noted that while Jerry Seinfeld: I'm Telling You for the Last Time is his first Broadway show, it is, coincidentally, his third gig on New York's West 44th Street, the two previous efforts being at clubs along the same street -- the Golden Lion Pub and The Improv -- early in his career. "New York is where I learned how to do everything," he said. "This is where my career began"
He added, "New York has always been the best audience for me. All people in New York are funny, and they get funnier as they get older... People appreciate humor here more than any other place." Seinfeld also explained the meaning of the show's title: I'm Telling You for the Last Time. He said he plans to do some of his best-known routines, but then: "I'm never going to do any of these jokes again. I'm retiring the material."
Naturally, the jokes will live on in the HBO special and the Universal Records recording of the performance. Seinfeld said it will take him eight months to a year to put together another comedy routine. He said he has no plans to do another sitcom.
Seinfeld bantered with reporters on subjects as diverse as the mileage on his new car to the fact that tickets to his show are being scalped at up to $1500 apiece. When a reporter asked for a comment on the situation, Seinfeld said he wanted to confess that "I am responsible for the scalping. There's never been any scalping before this." He added, still tongue in cheek, "As a comedian, I know it's my job to fight crime wherever I see it."
Asked if he thought $1500 was a good deal for his show, he commented, "If you have $1500 to spend [on this], you're beyond [worrying about] good deals."
Other Seinfeld points:
* He said one of his first Broadway memories was being taken to Man of La Mancha and taking a special interest in the corset of the actress playing sexy Dulcinea. "I remember that," he said. "I thought, 'This is Broadway.'"
* Asked if he planned to refund ticket prices, as he had in his Des Moines, Iowa, tryout, he pointed out that all the money from the New York gig is promised to the children's charities PENCIL (Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning) and ArtsCONNECTION, "If people would like to take the money from children and public schools, I'm sure I can arrange it," he deadpanned. "Perhaps I could have the little children give it to them."
* In view of the fact that the concert will be recorded and released as his first comedy album, Seinfeld said his own favorite comedy albums were Bill Cosby's "Why Is There Air?" which he said, "Made me want to be a comedian more than anything else," and Robert Klein's "Child of the '50s."
* When asked to confirm or deny that fellow "Seinfeld" cast member Jason Alexander would be among surprise guests at the concert, Seinfeld replied that he'd be happy to supply a list of all the planned surprises -- "just so there's no surprises."
* A reporter noted Seinfeld's status as an eligible bachelor and asked him to specify his idea of the ideal woman. "They all seem ideal," he replied. "That's the problem."
* Seinfeld joked with the corps of photographers grabbing shots at the top of the press conference. Several shouted for him to look "center," and Seinfeld commented, "Every person thinks where they are is the center. That is human life."