Jerry Seinfeld actually fought for his "Letterman" finale diss: "There's really nothing else I care about except jokes"

Seinfeld spoke with Vulture editor Jesse David Fox at this weekend's Vulture Festival

By Anna Silman
Published June 1, 2015 4:42PM (EDT)
 Jerry Seinfeld          (NBC)
Jerry Seinfeld (NBC)

At the Vulture Festival this weekend, Jerry Seinfeld spoke with Vulture editor Jesse David Fox after a screening the upcoming Julia Louis-Dreyfus episode of his show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which returns June 3rd. Describing his relationship with his former "Seinfeld" co-star as "brother-sister," Seinfeld explained that “a lot of people have asked to see Julia. [The episode] goes in unexpected places.  You see the relationship people maybe are curious about… something very sweet people would like.”

Seinfeld also addressed Louis-Dreyfus' joke on the “Letterman” finale ("Thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale”), explaining that he wasn't offended by the diss because he "like[s] all jokes."

"There's really nothing else I care about except jokes, I don't care who has them, whose feelings have to be hurt — if it's a good joke I’m into it. And we actually fought hard for that particular joke; the writers had a different joke that Julia and I did not like and she came to me and she said, 'I don’t know if this joke works,' and I read the joke and I go, 'No, that's a bad joke.' She had flown from L.A. to New York just to do the one line — we were really excited to be on that show. It was a really cool experience to be on Dave's last show and I didn’t want her to go out there and tank. I've been at this awhile; you don’t always know 100 percent, but in this case I knew this is a loser, and so we went to the writers and it was quite a long negotiation and then they came up with this other line, which was sensational. I wonder actually now, I was thinking, Did they have that, or did they write that? Maybe they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. That’s what it may have been: that they had that joke and they didn’t want to hurt my feelings and then, of course, they don’t know I don’t have feelings."

There were lots of other interesting tidbits throughout the discussion: For one, Seinfeld says that he has no interest in joining the likes of Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari in performing at Madison Square Garden, although he would like to do a show at the Beacon ("I don't mind making less, it's okay, I'm gonna be fine"). If he could choose anyone, alive or dead, to interview him on "Comedians in Cars," it would be Charlie Chaplin, because "we would speak the same language... to talk to a guy like that, who had such a deep understanding of comedy, and to see how it is so immutable over all these decades, would be pretty fascinating". He even gave offered some marriage advice to an audience member about to tie the knot, wisely advising her "try not to both go crazy at the same time.  Try to do it individually and the other person can just hang on."

And, as usual, he offered an incisive dissection of the craft of comedy -- in particular, comedy's status as an art-form.

"There's nothing about it that's not art, because it's made out of air. It doesn't have a reason, there's no need to be here. There's absolutely no difference between the greatest painting ever made and a joke. It's just something that someone invented that someone else likes. That's art. And it has no reason to exist except its own virtue, that's what art is. But when there's a two drink minimum and people are getting drunk to make the guy seem funnier, it's not looked at that way. And I'm fine with that."

Anna Silman

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Comedy Jerry Seinfeld Julia Louis-dreyfus Letterman Seinfeld