Book Review: Is this Anything? By Jerry Seinfeld

July 28, 2022

Details from Audible:

Publisher's Summary

The first book in 25 years from “one of our great comic minds” (The Washington Post) features Seinfeld’s best work across five decades in comedy.

Since his first performance at the legendary New York nightclub “Catch a Rising Star” as a 21-year-old college student in fall of 1975, Jerry Seinfeld has written his own material and saved everything. “Whenever I came up with a funny bit, whether it happened on a stage, in a conversation, or working it out on my preferred canvas, the big yellow legal pad, I kept it in one of those old school accordion folders,” Seinfeld writes. “So I have everything I thought was worth saving from 45 years of hacking away at this for all I was worth.”

For this book, Jerry Seinfeld has selected his favorite material, organized decade by decade. In this “trove of laugh-out-loud one-liners” (Associated Press), you will witness the evolution of one of the great comedians of our time and gain new insights into the thrilling but unforgiving art of writing stand-up comedy.

©2020 Bic Yellow Legal, LLC. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Initial Thoughts:

I love Seinfeld, love the show, seen Jerry twice doing his stand-up, watched all of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" and even his terrible reality show "The Marriage Ref." So when I saw this on Libby and it was fairly short (something I like a lot these days) I decided to give it a listen.

Main Points:

This is an unusual book in that it is almost entirely just a collection of jokes (old and new) read by Jerry. Each joke is introduced by a woman with a nice British accent (and by introduced I mean she just reads the title) and each section (separated by decade) has a short introduction read by Jerry. Jerry does a good job reading the jokes (most of the time), his comments before each section are really good and I quite enjoyed the acknowledgments section and the end.

The issues are (as I was telling some friends) that most of the jokes here you've already heard and a lot of the ones you haven't is because they weren't funny enough to make the cut. Jerry is in his 60s now and he just doesn't have the energy and enthusiasm to tell some of these jokes as he did over 30 years ago. Back to the positive, when he talks about starting off and becoming a successful comedian, what it means to be successful as a comedian, and some slightly shocking behind-the-scenes info on how "Seinfeld" was made (and what he thinks of it), I was enjoying it but those are small parts of the book. The last 30 or so minutes is all new material and hearing him talk about his family, friends, life in his 60s and his health is quite interesting. The new material is funny and I hope he does one more stand-up special when he has enough of it.

 

Final Thoughts:

I think as Jerry said when he talks about restaurants I can really only say this book is just ok. The shortness helps and would give it a 6.5 out of 10. I thought about a lower rating but some jokes are really funny, I just wish there had been more like that. If you are a hardcore Seinfeld fan like me I'd recommend it but be prepared for like 80% of the material you've already heard. There is some coarse language, so I'd says ages 14+.