Jerry Seinfeld: Movies are dead and TV comedy is in jeopardy due to "extreme left and P.C. crap"

The comedian and sitcom star has shared some hot takes as he promotes his Pop-Tarts movie, "Unfrosted"

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 29, 2024 5:25PM (EDT)

Jerry Seinfeld attends the UNFROSTED NY Friends & Family screening at The Whitby Hotel on April 25, 2024 in New York City (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Netflix)
Jerry Seinfeld attends the UNFROSTED NY Friends & Family screening at The Whitby Hotel on April 25, 2024 in New York City (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Netflix)

Jerry Seinfeld seems to be sharing quite a few opinions about the state of entertainment these days.

Speaking to the New Yorker about his forthcoming directorial debut, "Unfrosted," the comedian spoke about what he sees as the impending end of television comedy, asserting that people no longer turn to the TV for laughs as they once did.

“Nothing really affects comedy. People always need it. They need it so badly and they don’t get it,” Seinfeld said. “It used to be, you would go home at the end of the day, most people would go, ‘Oh, “Cheers” is on. Oh, “MASH” is on. Oh, “Mary Tyler Moore” is on. “All in the Family” is on.’ You just expected, ‘There’ll be some funny stuff we can watch on TV tonight.’ Well, guess what — where is it? This is the result of the extreme left and P.C. crap, and people worrying so much about offending other people.”

The co-creator and star of long-running NBC sitcom, "Seinfeld," continued by arguing that comedy lovers are “now going to see stand-up comics because we are not policed by anyone."

"The audience polices us. We know when we’re off track," he said. "We know instantly and we adjust to it instantly. But when you write a script and it goes into four or five different hands, committees, groups — ’Here’s our thought about this joke.’ Well, that’s the end of your comedy.”

“We did an episode of the [‘Seinfeld’] in the '90s where Kramer decides to start a business of having homeless people pull rickshaws because, as he says, ‘They’re outside anyway,'” Seinfeld continued. “Do you think I could get that episode on the air today? . . . We would write a different joke with Kramer and the rickshaw today. We wouldn’t do that joke. We’d come up with another joke. They move the gates like in the slalom. Culture — the gates are moving. Your job is to be agile and clever enough that, wherever they put the gates, I’m going to make the gate.”

Seinfeld's latest remarks build off other hot takes of late. In a recent interview with GQ magazine ahead of the "Unfrosted" premiere, he claimed that "the movie business is over."

Slated to hit Netflix in May, the big-budget comedy chronicles the fictional creation of Pop-Tarts toaster pastries vis-à-vis warring competition between major cereal companies, Kellogg's and Post. 

In a discussion about jumping into moviemaking later in his career, Seinfeld said, “It was totally new to me. I thought I had done some cool stuff, but it was nothing like the way these people work,” Seinfeld said. “They’re so dead serious! They don’t have any idea that the movie business is over. They have no idea.

“Film doesn’t occupy the pinnacle in the social, cultural hierarchy that it did for most of our lives," he expounded. "When a movie came out, if it was good, we all went to see it. We all discussed it. We quoted lines and scenes we liked. Now we’re walking through a fire hose of water, just trying to see.

“Depression? Malaise? I would say confusion. Disorientation replaced the movie business,” he answered. “Everyone I know in show business, every day, is going, ‘What’s going on? How do you do this? What are we supposed to do now?'

“I’ve done enough stuff that I have my own thing, which is more valuable than it’s ever been,” Seinfeld said of his professional trajectory. “Stand-up is like you’re a cabinetmaker, and everybody needs a guy who’s good with wood. . . . There’s trees everywhere, but to make a nice table, it’s not so easy. So, the metaphor is that if you have good craft and craftsmanship, you’re kind of impervious to the whims of the industry.

“Audiences are now flocking to stand-up because it’s something you can’t fake,” he said. “It’s like platform diving. You could say you’re a platform diver, but in two seconds we can see if you are or you aren’t. That’s what people like about stand-up. They can trust it. Everything else is fake.”

"Unfrosted" premieres May 3 on Netflix.


By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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