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Seinfeld delivers masterful riffs on what bugs him

 Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is seen on stage while he performs at a benefit concert for
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is seen on stage while he performs at a benefit concert for 'Autism Speaks' in New York, November 17, 2009. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
— image credit: Reuters

By Erik Pedersen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - There's one major difference between "Seinfeld" and its star's stand-up act. The TV show ostensibly was about nothing, but it thrived on the comedy of coincidence; onstage, Jerry Seinfeld mines the comedy of annoyance.

Of course, easy irritation and lax tolerance were hallmarks of the series' characters, and that traces back to Seinfeld's humor. Although the jokes were new Saturday (December 5) at the San Diego Civic Theater -- the tour snubbed Los Angeles -- the shtick remains the same: Stuff bugs him.

If those things bother his audience, great. If not, Seinfeld doesn't care. He's confident that crowds will agree with him. Take a snotty/snarky statement like, "Other people's children just don't look right." Sure, the audience can laugh with him, but they need to remember that he's talking about their kids too.

At 55 and with no financial worries, Seinfeld is doing this stand-up tour for himself, and he remains a master. There was only a whiff of the classic material -- a quickie about the dinner bill being "the story of the meal" -- and most of the new stuff worked quite well. Grins and giggles came easy, but despite the embellished phrases and earnest delivery, true belly laughs were at a premium.

Beginning with a not-unexpected East Coast jab at San Diegans, Seinfeld breezed through his 70 minutes with an old pro's patience and aplomb. He routinely deployed that trademark rapid-fire one-person dialogue and feigned incredulity. And the new bits certainly had their charm.

When a there's a big change in an observation comic's life, expect it to become part of the act. So there was plenty of marriage-and-family humor. He got some good barbs in, including the comparison of having a girlfriend to being married as playing paintball versus going to Iraq. He ignored politics and current events but raged against such modern annoyances as Twitter, BlackBerrys and caller ID with varying degrees of success.

Seinfeld easily could have done a few crowd-pleasing minutes or more of "greatest bits," but to his credit, he's determined to tour with all-new material. And the legions who discovered him via his TV show and were seeing his act for the first time probably went home satisfied. But though the craft remains, he couldn't match the standard he set in the clubs decades ago.

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