Jerry Seinfeld’s new hourlong comedy special, Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill is now available on Netflix
[In the first scene of the special we see Seinfield arriving at New York’s Beacon Theater after taking on a secret-agent persona and jumping out of a helicopter into the Hudson River]
Helicopter Pilot: Mr. Seinfeld, you have a show tonight, don’t ya?
Jerry Seinfeld: Yes, I do.
Pilot: They’re telling me there’s too much traffic to land right now.
Pilot: What do you want me to do?
Seinfeld: No problem. You can let me out anywhere along here.
Thank you! Thank you very much!
Oh, my God. What a moment. What a feeling. What an accomplishment this is… on your part. What you just went through… going out, dealing with… natural obstacles of life. Difficult people, arranging, planning. Annoying friends, many of whom you’re sitting with right now… …who, for some reason, required unnecessarily complicated back-and-forth, communicating about “Who’s going?” “When do we leave?” and “How do we get there?” “Why don’t you pick me up?” “Why don’t I pick you up?” “It’s on the way.” “It’s the opposite direction.” “My car.” “Your car.” “One car.” “Two cars.” “When are we gonna eat? Did you eat? I didn’t eat.” “Are you gonna eat? I’m starving.” “I’m stuffed.” “I’ve been eating Jolly Ranchers all day. I need something solid.” “What about the tickets? Who’s got the tickets? Do you have the tickets?”
How many times did you hear the word “tickets” today? “Don’t forget the tickets.” “You have the tickets?” “Yeah, I got the tickets!” “Did you get their tickets?” “I didn’t get tickets for them. They gotta get their own tickets! They didn’t pay me from the last time I got ’em tickets.”
Why are your friends so annoying? The people you have chosen to be with in life. It makes no sense. You’d get rid of all of ’em in a second… if it wasn’t even a bigger pain in the ass to find new people, learn about their annoying problems that they never do anything about… …change the names and numbers in your phone, delete the old contacts. “Ah, the hell with it. I’ll ride it out with these idiots. It’s the same meals, holidays, and movies anyway. What’s the difference who I’m with?” “Just wanna be out.”
This is out. People talk about goin’ out. “We should go out. Let’s go out. We never go out.” Well… this is it. Now, the good thing about being out is you don’t have to be out for long. Just long enough to get the next feeling, which you’re all gonna get. And that feeling is, “I gotta be gettin’ back.” After all the work you put into getting your ass where it is right now… you’re only halfway through this nightmare at this point.
Wherever you are, really, anywhere in life, at some point, you gotta get the hell outta there. You’re at work; you wanna get home. You’re at home. “I’m working all week. I gotta get out.” You’re out, and it’s late. “I gotta get back.” “I gotta get up.” “I gotta get to the airport.” “When are we getting on the plane?” Plane takes off. “When’s the plane gonna land?” Plane lands. “Why don’t they open the door so we can get out?”
Nobody wants to be anywhere. Nobody likes anything. We’re cranky, we’re irritable, and we’re dealing with it by constantly changing locations. And so… we come up with things like this, what we’re doing right now. This is a made-up, bogus, hyped-up, not-necessary special event. That’s what this is. That a lot of people worked very hard to put together so that we could all just kill some time.
That’s why I’m here. I had nothing to do either, by the way. I can tell you that. You know me. You and I… Come on, you and I know each other on a certain level… electronic, though it may be… for many, many years, at this point. We’re going through life together. A beautiful thing. You know what I’ve done. You know what I’ve made. You know how I live. You know for a fact… I could be anywhere in the world right now! Now, you be honest. If you were me, would you be up here, hacking out another one of these? Maybe… or maybe not. Nonetheless, I am thrilled to be here. I love it here. This could be my favorite spot in the entire world, right here, right now. Could be.
[Woman] We love you!
Thank you, sweetheart. I love you too. This is, in fact, my favorite type of intimate relationship. I love you, you love me, and we will never meet. Yeah, Jerry!
It’s all things we do to convince ourselves our lives don’t suck. That’s another thing this is. You’ll be going tomorrow, “My life doesn’t suck. I saw a comedian who had a show in the ’90s last night at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway, in New York City.” Even though your life does pretty much suck. And I know that because I know that everyone’s life sucks. Your life sucks. My life sucks, too. Perhaps not quite as much. But still, in the vast suckness… of human life, everyone’s life sucks. It’s okay. Never feel bad that your life sucks. The greatest lesson you can learn in life: “Sucks” and “great” are pretty close. They’re not that different.
We live here in New York. Over here, I’m so sick of hearing about great restaurants. “Jerry, we went to a great restaurant last night. It was great. You would love it. He would love it. Wouldn’t he love it? You would love it.” “You.” You know how your friends single you out? “You. Wouldn’t he? He would love that place.” “Did you like it?” “I didn’t care for it myself, but you…” I don’t like the great restaurants. I don’t like great anything. I’m looking for not bad. “How’s that food?” “It’s not bad.” “That sounds great. Let’s go over there and get this over with.” “Wanna hear the specials?” “No. If they’re so special, put ’em on the menu. I’m not interested in food that’s auditioning to get on the team.” I don’t know what the hell you’re talkin’ about. “We’re gonna pan-sear it. We’re gonna herb-crust it. We’re gonna drizzle it with something that’s a reduction of somethin’ else.” Stop drizzling. We can’t take the drizzling anymore! It’s too much drizzling! Maybe if you didn’t reduce it so much, you wouldn’t have to drizzle it!
The meal takes two and a half hours. Your ass is hurtin’ by the end of it. It’s not half as good as a bowl of Lucky Charms and Pepsi anyway. Check always comes in that book, the little story of the bill. Yeah, here’s the story. Once upon a time, you got rib. That’s the story. You’re on the street afterwards with your friends, “I-I didn’t think that was… Was that great?” Everyone says “great.” “Yeah, I didn’t think it was that great. What did you think?” “It sucked, right? That place sucks.” A lot of great places just suck! Then you go to a baseball game. You have a hot dog. The hot dog is cold. The bun is not toasted. The vendor is an ex-con in a work-release program. You love that hot dog every time. Does it… Does it suck? Yes. Is it great? Yes. That’s how close they are!
“Sucks” and “great” are the only two ratings people even give to anything anymore. “Hey, let’s go see that new movie. I heard it’s great.” “Really? I heard it sucked.” “How could it suck? It’s supposed to be great.” “I heard the beginning is great, and then after that, it sucks.” “Oh, that sucks.” “I know. It coulda been great.” I say that “sucks” and “great” are the exact same thing. You have an ice cream cone. Walking down the street, the ice cream falls off the top of the cone, hits the pavement. Sucks. What do you say? “Great.”
Food‘s a good subject. Let’s talk a little bit more about this. ‘Cause we were in Vegas a couple months ago. And everybody goes, “Jerry, you gotta go to the buffet. They got the buffet. Oh, come on. You can get whatever you want at the buffet.” What is the idea of the buffet? “Well, things are bad. How could we make it worse? Why don’t we put people that are already struggling with portion control… …into some kind of debauched, Caligula food orgy of unlimited human consumption? Let’s make the entrance a chocolate-syrup water park slide.” The buffet is like taking your dog to Petco and letting your dog do the shopping. You give him your wallet in the parking lot and go, “Why don’t you go in, get whatever you think… is the right amount of dog food for you? Use your dog judgment. I’m gonna wait in the car. Leave the window open a crack so I can breathe.”
People do not do well in an unsupervised eating environment. Nobody would walk into a restaurant and say, “I’ll have a yogurt parfait, sparerib, meat pie, crab leg, four cookies, and an egg-white omelet.” People are building death-row last meal wish lists on these plates. It’s like a perfect working model of all their emotional problems and personal difficulties. They just walk around. They just kinda hold it out. “This is what I’m dealing with. It’s a salad with a scoop of ice cream on it. I’ve got some unresolved issues I’m trying to work out here at the buffet.” Start accosting strangers. “Excuse me. Where did you get that? What is that? I didn’t even see that. What is that? Is that a caramelized chicken leg? I gotta try that. Give me yours. You know where they are. You can get more. Come on!” Let’s…
Please. Please. Please stay with the group as much as you can. We’re gonna be going through a lot of exhibits. I don’t want any stragglers.
But when I was a kid, the biggest food thing that happened to me… When they invented the Pop-Tart, the back of my head blew right off. We couldn’t comprehend the Pop-Tart! It was too advanced! We saw it in the supermarket. It was like an alien spaceship. We were just chimps in the dirt, playing with sticks. Just… …grunting, pointing. “Pop-Tart is here.”
Think back to when the Pop-Tart came out. It was the ’60s. We had toast! We had orange juice, frozen decades in advance. You had to hack away at it with a knife! It was like a murder to get a couple of drops of liquidity in the morning. We had shredded wheat. It was like wrapping your lips around a woodchipper. You’d have breakfast, you had to take two days off for the scars to heal so you could speak. My mom made Cream of Wheat. She didn’t get the recipe. “Mom, the amount of water in this dish is critical. You’re making it too thick! I can’t even move my little-kid spoon in the bowl! I’m seven. I feel like I’m rowing in the hull of a Greek slave ship. That was breakfast?” And in the midst of that dark and hopeless moment, the Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts suddenly appeared out of Battle Creek, Michigan, which, as you cereal fans know, is the corporate headquarters of Kellogg’s and a town I have always wanted to visit… because it seems like a cereal Silicon Valley… of breakfast super scientists… conceiving of the frosted, fruit-filled, heatable rectangles in the same shape as the box it comes in… and with the same nutrition as the box it comes in, too. That was the hard part. I don’t know how long it took to invent, but they must’ve come out of that lab like Moses with the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. “The Pop-Tart is here! Two in the packet! Two slots in a toaster! Let’s see ya screw this up! Why two? One’s not enough. Three’s too many. And they can’t go stale, ’cause they weren’t ever fresh.”
What else is annoying in the world, besides everything? What about your device dictatorship that you live under, cowering in fear from your phone? “My phone! Where’s my phone? I can’t find my phone. It’s… Oh, here it is. I got it. It’s here. It’s here. My phone is here.” I didn’t… I moved it from this pocket to this pocket. I didn’t know where it was for a second. I’m okay. That was really close. Phew. You are so hypno-phonified at this point, you hand your phone to somebody to show them something. After two seconds, you go, “All right. Okay, give me it back. Give it back. You saw it. That… that’s it. Give it back. I am completely off-the-grid right now.”
When that battery gets low… you feel like your whole body’s runnin’ out of power, don’t you? I just… I-I feel tired when the phone battery gets down to ten or five. I can’t even walk. “You guys go ahead without me. I gotta get to a charger.” A call comes in. “Listen, I don’t know how much time I have left out here. I wish I could take back some of the things I’ve said. If I go dead on the street, tell everyone I know I’ll talk to them tomorrow.”
“Well, I gotta stay in touch with people, Jerry. That’s why the phone’s so important to me. People are pretty important, you know.” Really? They don’t seem very important, the way you scroll through their names on your contact list like a gay French king. “Who pleases me today? Who shall I favor? Who shall I delete?”
We are not separating from the phone. It’s a part of us. Now, who are you with no phone? What access to information do you have? What you can remember. What’ll you do without your pictures? Are you gonna describe what you saw? That doesn’t work for us. We don’t wanna talk to anybody that doesn’t have a phone. That’s why it’s called an iPhone. It’s half myself, half phone. That’s a complete individual.
I don’t even know what the purpose of people is anymore. I think the only reason people still exist is phones need pockets to ride around in. I used to think Uber was on my phone so I could get around. Then I started thinking maybe they put Uber on the phone because that makes me take the phone, ’cause the phone is using me to get around. Who’s really the Uber in this big prostitution ring? I’m the little bitch carrying the phone. The cars are the hos, picking up strangers off the street all night. And the phone’s the big pimp of the whole thing, telling the drivers, “You just get who I tell ya to get. I’ll handle the money.”
We call it a phone. We don’t even use it as a phone. Nobody’s talkin’ on the phone. Once they gave you the option, you could talk or type, talkin’ ended that day. It’s over. Talking is obsolete. It’s antiquated. I feel like a blacksmith up here sometimes, to tell you the truth. I could text you this whole thing. We can get the hell outta here right now. Why would I wanna get information from a face when I could get it from a nice, clean screen? Don’t you feel uncomfortable now? Faces come up to you, “Well, I’ll tell you what I think about what you ought to do.” Their lips and their teeth and their gums and their… There’s a missed shaving spot, there’s a piece of crust, some goo. You see a little lunch remnant in their teeth. “Just send me an e-mail about this, would ya? I can’t do it anymore. Your face is the worst news I’ve had all day.”
We wanna text, text, just text! We like that word, don’t we? “Text!” It’s fun to say. It’s got that… short, tight, got the x in there, a little bite to it. “Text it! Text!” “Don’t… I don’t… I don’t know where it is. Don’t tell me! Text it. Don’t tell me!” Remember when we first got text? Not really. Can’t really remember that. I-I can’t either. I mean, I know that we have it. I know we didn’t use to have it. I don’t know how we got it. I don’t remember… Did they tell us we were getting it? There was… Was there an announcement that we were getting it? There was no commercial. I don’t remember a commercial. “Want some human contact but kind of had it up to here with people? Try text. Need to get someone some information but don’t want to hear their stupid voice responding to it? You need to be on text.”
We like it. It’s fast. It’s efficient. Not fast enough, apparently, for some people. Now, instead of “OK,” a lot of people text me just the “K,” leavin’ the “O” off. What… what microfraction of a second did you save? You think you’re efficient? What does that add up to, like two free minutes at the end of your day that you can watch a YouTube video of skateboarders banging their nuts off a railing? Somebody texted me “TY” the other day instead of “thank you.” I’d like to bang your nuts off a railing, TY. That’s not a thank-you.
We’re so anxious to get the next text, they give you those three little ghosty dots to tell ya it’s coming. “Oh, we’re cooking up a good one for you. Wait till ya see this. You are not gonna believe what this guy’s about to say.” I can’t show it to you yet. We’re still working on it in the text machine, but it’s gonna be a beauty. You can see the pistons pumping.
Sometimes, we get the ghosty dots, and then no text. What happened there? I wanna know what that was. Is that like somebody coming up to you and going… “Ah, uh, never mind.”
The phones keep getting smarter. Why don’t we? Why are people on voice mail still telling me to wait for the beep? It’s the 21st goddamn century. I think we’re all up to speed on the beep. The Maasai tribesmen of the African plain know about the beep. They don’t leave a message till they hear: “Ma-ma-lay, ma-ma-lay. Beep!” Why are people still telling me to leave my name and number on voice mail? Are these necessary instructions for anyone? Anyone getting messages like, “This is a woman. Goodbye”? Or: “He’s dead. Call me back.” “Who was that?”
What about the, uh, camera in the phone? I always wonder if they… Before they do those kinds of things, do they stand around and go, “Hey, are you sure this is a good idea? You don’t think this one feature, all by itself, could result in so many pictures, videos, posting, comments, and clapbacks that the entire life force of the human race just drains out like a puddle of piss by the side of the road? You don’t think that could happen from this one thing?” “No. Nor do I think every restaurant dinner will end with a picture bully going, ‘Okay, everyone. Picture. Come on. We gotta have a picture.'” “Why? We didn’t have a good time. I don’t wanna remember this.” And let’s make sure we get the least phone-fluent person in the area to take the picture. Someone old, nervous, clumsy, confused, or dim-witted. Someone that can’t hold things, see things, aim things, press things. Someone who, the second they’re handed the phone, it slips off camera mode, and they can’t get it back. “I don’t know. Is anyone… I don’t, uh… Does anyone know how to…” Let’s get that person so we can be standing here even longer with fake, frozen smiles and our arm around somebody you would never touch in any other social situation.
We’re picture-addicted. There’s no way to stop it. Sometimes, I wanna go back to the flip phone. One of those ones I see on TV. They have these phones for old people with the… with the giant buttons like floor tiles. You ever see that commercial? These old people phones, two buttons: your kid, ambulance. That’s it. Forget the numbers. You don’t need the numbers.
Why don’t we update some of these terms that we use in the tech world, like “e-mail”? Why is the world “mail” even in “e-mail”? Is there any similarity between e-mail and whatever the hell is going on in the Postal Service? One of them operates on a digital, fiber-optic, hyper-speed network. The other is this dazed and confused, distant branch of the Cub Scouts out there, just… …bumbling around the streets in embarrassing shorts and jackets with meaningless patches and victory medals. Driving four miles an hour, 20 feet at a time, on the wrong side of a mentally handicapped Jeep. They always have this emotional, financial meltdown every three and half years that their business model from 1630 isn’t working anymore. “How are we going to catch up?”
I cannot understand how a 21st-century information system based on licking, walking, and a random number of pennies… is struggling to compete. They always push the postmaster general out on TV to explain their difficulties. He’s all freaked out, rings under his eyes, no shave, pullin’ all-nighters. “We can’t keep it up much longer. Looks like we’re gonna have to go up another penny on the stamps!” We’re sittin’ at home, “No, dude, relax. We don’t even know how much a stamp is anyway. Forty-eight, 53, 61… Make it a buck, you’re gonna get there. If it ends up you got some money left over, buy yourself some pants and a real car.” I would say to the Postal Service, “If you actually wanted to be helpful to us, just open the letters, read ’em, and e-mail us what it says! We’ll give you a penny for each one you do… …since that seems to be a lot of money in your world.”
But we are all human. Human. The human is a social species, as we can see. We tend to congregate, aggregate, and coagulate together. We live here in New York City. That makes no sense. If you take a plane out of New York, and you look down at the city, what do you see around the city? Why, there’s nothing but empty, open, beautiful, rolling land out there. Nobody’s there! “Let’s pack in here, tight!” Uncomfortable, on top of each other, traffic, congestion! That’s what we like! Human beings like to be close together because it makes it easier for us to judge and criticize… …the personalities and activities of these humans. We like to give our thoughts, our comments, our opinions. Sometimes, we run out of opinions. We make them up. “It is what it is” is a very popular opinion statement nowadays. I’m sure some idiot said it to you today. You can’t get through a day without somebody going, “Well, it is what it is.” Why are you alive? To just say air words that fill the room with meaningless sounds? I’d rather someone blew clear air into my face than said, “It is what it is” to me one more time. Just… just come up to me and go… ‘Cause I get the same data from that! People like to say those things. “It is what it is.” You see, if you repeat a word twice in a sentence, you can say that with a lot of confidence. “Business is business.” “Rules are rules.” “Deal’s a deal.” “When we go in there, as long as we know what’s what and who’s who, whatever happens, happens, and it is what it is.”
We also like to say things to make ourselves feel better. “Well, at least he died doin’ something that he loved.” Yeah, well, okay… but he’s not doin’ that anymore. Also, not sure how in love with it he would still be… after the very negative outcome. I’d like to die doin’ somethin’ that I hate like cleaning a row of outdoor Porta Pottis. Clutch my chest, drop the brush, keel over, and go, “Fantastic. At least I’m done with that.”
And when one does have occasion to avail oneself of one of these portable, plastic, outdoor public toilets, that’s a very different place than any other place you go in life, and you’re a little different, too, when you come out. A little shook up, like a combat veteran or somebody that works at a trauma center. “You all right?” “Yeah, no, I’m fine. I just need some time. I’ll be all right. I’m gonna take a walk. I need to think… about my life. It just doesn’t feel like it’s goin’ in the direction I wanted it to go.” And by the way, never marry anyone that comes out of one of these bathrooms and goes, “It’s not that bad in there.” Do not marry that person. You have a lot of fantastic qualities. You will eventually meet someone. Do not settle for an individual of this caliber.
Because it’s very easy to use these bathrooms. I always find the spring tension on the door to be a little lighter than I thought it was gonna be. The door opens so easily, so welcoming. “Come on in. We have something for you.” A place to relieve yourself in exchange for a mental image picture that will cause you to twitch in your sleep every night for a year and a half… with PTSD: “Portable Toilet Spring Door.”
I don’t even know how they’re allowed to call it a bathroom. It’s not a bath… You’re… you’re crapping in a hole with a box over it. It’s beastly! It’s hyena living! You wanna do that thing your dog does after going to the bathroom in the grass. You know that little move they make? You wanna do that after you’ve used one of these things. “Why you doin’ that?” “I’m tryin’ to get the last few minutes outta my mind. That’s all.”
You’re such a great audience. This is really fun. Thank you so much for bein’ here.
All right. Let’s change gears at this point in our lovely time together here. So, those are things that I see in the outside world. Now, I wanna take you into Jerry’s little world… and give you a little perspective on what’s going on in my personal life. First, I will give you the basic numbers. Everybody likes the numbers. I’m 65 years old. I apologize for the shock value… …of that number. I am married for 19 years. I have three kids. My oldest is my daughter. I have two younger boys. I love being in my sixties. It’s my favorite decade of human life so far. When you’re in your sixties, people ask you to do somethin’, you just say no. No reason, no excuse, no explanation. I can’t wait for my seventies. I don’t even think I’ll answer. I’ve seen those people. You just wave when you’re in your seventies. “Hey, you wanna check out that flea market?”
I like this time. It’s relaxing. I don’t wanna grow. I don’t wanna change. I don’t want to improve in anything. I don’t want to expand my interests, meet anyone, or learn anything I don’t already know. I don’t lie in restaurants anymore. “How is everything?” “I don’t like it here.” “Want the check?” “No, I intend to press charges. This is outrageous.”
I don’t like to turn around. Like, if I’m walkin’ down the street like this… “Jerry, check this out. You gotta see this.” This move. I don’t… I don’t like doing this thing anymore. I just don’t wanna do it. “You gotta see this.” “I disagree.” I don’t feel old, I don’t feel tired; I’ve just seen a lot of things. I’ll see it on the way back, when it’s in front of me. How ’bout that? Or I won’t see it. Or I’ll Google it. Or I’ll just assume it’s probably a lot like something else I’ve already seen.
A lot of people around my age make a bucket list. I made a bucket list, and I turned the b to an f, and I was done with that, too. I just want you to have that option. You can either check off all your items… or change one letter at the top, you’re in a La-Z-Boy, watchin’ a ball game.
I got married late in life. I was 45. I had some issues. I was enjoying those issues quite a bit, as I recall. When I was single, I had married friends. I would not visit their homes. I found their lives to be pathetic and depressing. Now that I’m married, I have no single friends. I find their lives to be meaningless and trivial experiences. In both cases, I believe I was correct. Whichever side of marriage you’re on, you don’t get what the other people are doing. I can’t hang out with single guys. You don’t have a wife, we have nothing to talk about. You have a girlfriend? That’s Wiffle ball, my friend. You’re playing paintball war; I’m in Afghanistan with real, loaded weapons. Married guys play with full clips and live rounds. This is not a drill. Single guy’s sitting on a merry-go-round, blowin’ on a pinwheel! I’m drivin’ a truck full of nitro down a dirt road.
You single guys here tonight, looking at me, “Hey, Jerry, what if I wanna be a married guy like you? What do I gotta have if I wanna be a married guy?” I’ll tell you. You better have some answers, buddy. You better have some answers for that woman. Women have a lot of questions. Their brains are strong, active, and on high alert at all times. You’re sleeping. She’s researching. The female brain is cookin’ all the time! The female brain is one of the most competent and capable organs in all of the biological universe. Girl power. You’re goddamn right. There’s nothing the female brain cannot do. It will solve all problems of earth and… life. Having completed that, it will move on to the hypothetical. Theoretical situations… that may or may not occur. The female needs to know how you might respond. “If you faked your own death, and I found out about it, what would you say then?” “What are we talkin’ about now?” “Oh, I dreamt the whole thing last night, so don’t deny it.”
Being married is like being on a game show, and you’re always in the lightning round. I went out and bought a game-show podium. I set it up in my living room. I wake up in the morning, and I stand behind the podium, tryin’ to answer all my wife’s questions and get on with the goddamn day. I got a hand button-clicker. “I’ll take ‘Movies I Think We Saw Together’ for 200.” My wife, of course, is the returning champion from last week. “I’ll take ‘Details of a Ten-Minute Conversation We Had at Three O’Clock in the Morning Eight Years Ago.’ And I would like to bet everything I have on that, Alex. I’m going for the win right here.” The husband, of course, never has a clue. “I’m sorry, sir. You did not win the weekend sex package… …or the guilt-free televised sporting event. Thank you for playing. Are you even listening to me? And don’t forget to take that big bag of garbage with you on your way out… of the studio.”
One of the things I did not know before I got married that I found out after I got married is that every single day of my married life, I would be discussing the tone of my voice. I was not aware, as a single man, that I so often speak in the incorrect tone. I thought it was a marriage. Apparently, it’s a musical. I walk around the house with one of those round, black glee-club things. How ’bout that one? Am I gettin’ closer? “It’s your tone.” “My tone?” “Yes, your tone.” “What’s wrong with my tone?” “I don’t like your tone.” “What do you want me to…?” “You better change your tone!” Ever heard that?
And women are correct, as they always are. The male tone changes over the course of the relationship. In the beginning, as the male pursues the female, in the courting or flirting phase, we speak two octaves higher. We raise our voice two octaves. We talk like this in the beginning. Because Chinese food or Italian sounds great. Maybe we’ll take a drive or go for a walk.
My actual speaking voice that I am using right now to communicate with you is not welcome in my house. That’s why I’m out here talkin’ to you. Do you think that I talk like this… in my house, with this authority? The little edge in my voice? You think I speak like that in my house? I do not. If I walked into my own house, which I paid for, by the way. Not relevant, just wanted to mention it. If I said, like this… If I said, “I gotta get somethin’ to eat!” If I said it like that… First of all, any guy I know would say, “Eat whatever the hell you want. I don’t care what you eat.” Any woman will say, “Why are you yelling at me?” “I’m not yelling! I’m just hungry!” And then the fight breaks out, and when the fight breaks out, now you’re white-water kayaking. You got a plastic helmet on. You’re goin’ under. You’re poppin’ up. Just keep paddling.
That’s when the woman’s tone of voice changes. Yes, the women are included in this, too. All women, at some point in every argument with the man, like to imitate the voice of the man. In the amazing organizational system that women have, they have all somehow worked out to do the same impression. “You always say, ‘Oh no, I can’t do things like that. That’s not what I said I was gonna do.’ You said, ‘I might go.’ You said, ‘Definitely go.’ ‘Oh, I don’t think… I don’t think that I’d feel comfortable.’ You go, ‘Oh, with your friends. We’re goin’ with your friends.’ It’s not like my friends. With my friends, you say, ‘Oh, I don’t think that I could…'” Who the hell is this guy? Where did you see this guy? I never heard anyone talk like this. “That’s because you don’t hear yourself. You should hear how you sound. You go, ‘Oh, I don’t think… You know.'” It reminds me of that Lollipop Guild guy: ♪ Oh, we represent the Lollipop Guild ♪
It’s all about listening. Want some marriage advice? Ya better listen up! A lot of wives complain that their husbands do not listen. I have never heard my wife say this. She may have. I don’t know, but… here’s what I do know. Ladies, your husband wants to make you happy. He’s workin’ on it! He’s planning it. He’s thinking about it every second. He cannot do it. He cannot do it. He does not know how to do it. Sometimes, we do it. We don’t know how we did it. We can’t ask, “What did I do?” That looks like you don’t know what you’re doing. Can’t do nothing. Woman says, “I can’t believe you’re doing this.” Man says, “Doing what?” Woman starts crying. Man says, “I didn’t do anything.” Woman says, “Exactly.”
So, it’s a bit of a chess game, isn’t it? Except, the board is flowing water… and all the chess pieces are made of smoke. And you’re not alone. Don’t ever forget that in marriage. Society, culture, technology, even, is helping you on your journey of marriage. In your car, for example, dual-zone, separate buttons, on each side, climate control systems. Gee, I wonder if it was a married person that thought of that… and thought, “Hey, this could potentially come in handy if you’re with someone you’re legally bound to for the rest of your life and you need them to shut the hell up.” “I’m freezin’! I’m roastin’! I’m boilin’! It’s blowin’ on me!” When my wife says, “The air is on me,” it is the equivalent of a normal person saying, “A bear is on me.” That’s the emergency level. And I respond at that level, too. “Oh, my God. An evil breeze from a hostile vent is attacking my mate and life partner, who incidentally bore me three children without anesthesia. Probably could have caught the babies herself if no one was around, but cannot survive a waft of air three degrees off her optimum desired temperature.”
And I’m sure this stupid dual-zone thing totally works, too, to keep different-temperature air molecules from commingling inside a three-foot wide, closed compartment of an automobile. Because I go to my coffee place in the morning… I like to get my coffee black on the left side of the cup, cream and sugar on the right, and that’s no problem.
Or you go to fancy restaurants. Sometimes they say, “Do you want still or sparkling water?” I go, “Both. Same glass, keep ’em separate. I do it in my car all the time.”
Here’s a marriage moment I saw for real. Husband in the car, wife on the sidewalk. He’s picking her up after work. He did not bring the car to a full and complete stop! She had the door open. She was hopping on one foot… …trying to get some kind of leverage on the armrest of… You can only get one foot in a moving car. One can only imagine the spirited exchange of ideas… that took place in that car the rest of the drive home.
But that’s what marriage is. It’s two people… trying to stay together without saying the words “I hate you.” Which you’re not allowed to say. Okay? You can’t say that. You can feel it. That’s okay. Don’t let it come… …out. Say something else. Anything. Say, “Why is there never any Scotch Tape in this goddamn house?” “Scotch” is “I,” “tape” is “hate,” “house” is “you.” But it’s better.
You don’t say, “I could kill you right now.” You say, “You’re so funny sometimes.”
“So, Jerry, we would like to understand in a little more detail exactly how you pulled this off, ’cause we… We saw that you were, uh, just a single, regular, bachelor guy, 45 years. And then all of a sudden, you just… You just turned on a dime. Marriage, wife, kids, family. How’d you navigate that? How’d you acclimate? How did you procreate and cohabitate, learning to accommodate so as not to aggravate?” It’s a very good question, because a man in marriage will not survive if he does not have a strong brain-to-speech guard-gate control filtration system.
You don’t just talk in marriage! It’s risky. When I’m with my wife, who I love so dearly, and a thought enters my head, the first thing I think is, “Well, I know I can’t say that.” Maybe I could say I heard someone else say it. And then she and I can share a warm moment together, agreeing on what an idiot that person must be. And we get along great.
So, we have three kids. I told you that. We just came back from a lovey family vacation, or what I like to call: “Let’s pay a lot of money to go fight in a hotel.” I don’t know what the hell else we were doing. Let’s fight on bikes. “I’m gonna kill you.” “I’m gonna kill you more.” Let’s use profanity on a pristine, white-sand beach. Let’s fight about how well-behaved those other children seem to be. I wonder if they were out on the hotel balcony last night with 12-dollar minibar cashews, trying to hit the other guests in the head.
So, my daughter is, uh, my oldest. She’s 18, and she just, uh, finished high school, went off to college. Big… That’s kind of a big, you know, step when you’re parents. Thank you. We did a great job. She finished high school. So, a lot of people… You know, everybody’s asking me, “How do you feel, Jerry? You know, first kid leaving the house?” And I’m good. I’m okay. I’m okay. The way I look at it, it’s like if you somehow found a baby alligator and you put it in your tub, and everybody would… “Look at this. I found this. Baby alli… Look. Put your finger in his mouth. Feel the teeth? Little teeth, little bitey, bitey teeth.” And then time passes, and you go, “You know, I think we gotta get this thing the hell outta here. This is, uh… This doesn’t feel right anymore. This thing is… it’s scary. This thing needs to be out there, murdering other living things and eating them. That… that’s what it’s supposed to do.”
But I love being a dad. I was there at the birth. Obviously, the most dramatic human life moment. Anytime two people walk into a room, and three come out… a major event took place in that room. At the end of life, we go back basically into the same room, same bed, same stuff around. And again, a different number of people coming out than went in, but that is the human-being business. We gotta turn inventory, fresh product, keep the supply chain moving. We gotta get ’em in. We gotta get ’em out. That’s the hospital’s job. It’s rest, cleanliness. If it doesn’t work out, we help you move on. It says “hospital” when you walk in, but it could also be “Bed Bath & Beyond.”
‘Cause the babies never stop coming. Babies don’t care. You think babies care that the world’s a mess, you have issues? “We’re comin’ in! We want in!” They come in like racks of fresh doughnuts. More babies. More babies. More babies. Why are they here? They are here to replace us. That is their mission. Don’t you see what’s happening? They’re pushing us out. Their first words are “mama,” “dada,” and “buh-bye.” “Oh, we’ll see who’s wearing the diapers when this is all over.” That’s what the babies are thinking.
But again, the father, struggling to keep pace. Moms that are here, we want to be what you want us to be. We can’t do it! We want to do it. The baby’s born. I remember… It’s just the most amazing thing. For the female, just these instincts just kick in. For the man, nothing kicks in. He’s just the same guy, standin’ there. It was years into my children’s lives, I’d see them staring at me from across the room like they were gonna come and say, “I’m sorry, is someone helping you? Mom, the horsey-ride guy is here again. Do we need anything?”
Avoidance is the male domestic instinct. Golf, the ultimate avoidance activity. A game so nonsensically difficult, so pointless, so irrational, so time-consuming, the world “golf” could only possibly stand for: “get out, leave family.” And I have a lot of friends that play. They love it. Oh, they love it. “Jerry, you would love it. It’s a very challenging game.” “Yes, I am sure that it is. It’s also challenging trying to throw a Tic Tac 100 yards into a shoebox.”
In the fantasy mind of the golfing father, when he comes home, the family will come running out to hear the exciting stories of his golfing adventures. In reality, no one is even aware that he has left or returned… from eight and a half hours of idiotic hacking through sand and weeds while driving drunk in a clown car through a fake park.
Nonetheless, the father remains proud… dressing in bizarre outfits around the house on the weekends. All fathers essentially dress in the clothing style of the last good year of their lives. Whatever a man was wearing around the time he got married, he freezes that moment in fashion history and rides it out to the end. You see fathers on the street: ’05, ’91, ’83.
Took the kids to the movies the other day. New announcement in the movie theater I hadn’t seen before: “Please pick up the garbage from around your seat after the movie.” “Oh, okay. Maybe I’ll bring my orange jumpsuit and a wooden stick with a nail in it, too. Maybe I’ll work my way down the highway after the credits.” I’m not pickin’ nothin’ up! I’m the one that threw it down. There’s a deal in place between us and the movie theater people. The deal is, you’re rippin’ us off! In exchange for that, when I’m done with something, I open my hand. Let it roll down eight rows. I’m not sticking my arm into that dark, scary hole… tryin’ to pry out three Goobers that have been solder welded there since The Shawshank Redemption. What have they done for us? What… what? You gave us a cup holder? Is that our luxury feature? How about an automatic popcorn shooter that fires one in every five seconds… to complete this corpse-like experience?
The cup holder, that is the object that defines our culture. “We’re not holding cups! We don’t wanna grip!” Hands-free. Give me a cowboy hat with a beer on each side and a feeding tube comin’ down. Give me a dog leash with an extra leash wound up in it, in case the dog pulls it, I hit the button, let the line out like he’s a marlin.
I go into a public restroom, I expect a motion detector on the toilet, sink, urinal. I’m doin’ nothin’ in here. Why is the sink never as aware of us as the toilet? You always have to go into a David Copperfield magic act to make that work. Who designed the bathroom stall with the under-display viewing window? So we can all see the lifeless, collapsed pant legs and tragic little shoe fronts that are just barely poking out from underneath the impotent belt, lying helpless. How much more money is it to bring this wall down another foot? It’s the cheapest wall in the world. It’s a metal panel. They don’t even make the panels meet up tight in the corners! Why can’t they cinch it up? Sometimes, you’re walkin’ by, you see a frightened, terrorized human eye. You ever see just a flash of eye white in the space? Just a pupil? Why are we doing this to people? I’m not a horse. I don’t wanna be in a stall. If it’s a stall, why don’t I hang my head over the door? That’s what the horses do. I’m sure my coworkers recognize my shoes. Let’s let ’em see my face, too. “Hey, Bob, how you doing? Yeah, this is why I had to run out of that big meeting. I had a little PowerPoint presentation of my own to do.”
Thank you, New York City. You’ve been the best! I love you guys. You made me. I appreciate it. Thanks for comin’ in to see our show. Hope you enjoyed it. Good night.
♪ There’s a man Who leads a life of danger ♪
♪ To everyone he meets He stays a stranger ♪
♪ With every move he makes ♪
♪ Another chance he takes ♪
♪ Odds are he won’t live to see tomorrow ♪
♪ Secret agent man ♪
♪ Secret… ♪
Now, in the helicopter, what you would do… you’d move forward a little bit before you push out.
What’s this one?
It’s you in the doorway.
Hey, what’s up?
♪ Beware of pretty faces that you find ♪
♪ A pretty face can hide an evil mind ♪
♪ Ah, be careful ♪
♪ What you say ♪
♪ Or you’ll give yourself away ♪
♪ Odds are you won’t live… ♪