One of my favorite car shows out there right now is also one of the simplest: two people, in an interesting car. It helps that the the two people are funny, and one of them is Jerry Seinfeld. Oh, there’s also coffee, but I don’t know shit about coffee. It’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, and it’s coming to Netflix today.
There’s going to be an all-new season by mid-year sometime, but for now all 59 episodes are available on Netflix, so you may as well put on some adult diapers and organize your snack-and-booze table and ride out the cold by just binging the crap out of the show. Watch the trailer here.
Even better, I got to talk to Jerry about the show and cars, though it was really mostly about cars. Jerry called from Israel, where he is at the moment, which meant the call happened at an ungodly 6 a.m. my time, which may be why I managed to, embarrassingly, talk about three of my own cars to him like some kind of self-absorbed jackass.
I’m apologizing up front.
Anyway, Jerry was as funny and interesting and knowledgeable to talk to as you’d expect, and it was a huge treat to get to talk to him. You can hear the audio file up top there, or read the transcript below. Or both. I trust your judgement.
(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)
Jason: Hi, how are you doing Jerry? Great to meet you.
Jerry: Great to meet you. I think we have met, haven’t we?
Jason: I think we have; I know your friend Spike Feresten. Yes, I’m pretty sure at least once, we have. So nice to talk to you again.
Jerry: I don’t remember where or when.
Jason: I don’t know either exactly. But I’m an idiot. Thanks for doing this, by the way.
Jerry: Oh my pleasure. I love the Jalop. Where is Jalopnik now? Where is that place at?
Jason: Well we’re headquartered in New York City although I’m actually in North Carolina, of all places.
Jason: Yeah but we’re scattered all over the place.
Jerry: (clearly bored) Right. Is Dan Neil still in North Carolina, too?
Jason: Actually, yeah! Dan is. He’s just like 20 minutes from me over in Raleigh. I’m in Chapel Hill. I see Dan all the time. (this is a gross exaggeration, but I’m always happy when I run into Dan—JT)
Jerry: Oh my God, you guys have got North Carolina sewed up!
Jason: We absolutely do. Pulitzer Prize-winning Dan and me, we’re set. It’s great. No, he’s a good guy.
Jerry: I like him a lot.
Jason: How is Israel? Have you seen or do Israeli-made cars still exist there? You know the Sabra, that the Reliant thing?
Jerry: I’ve never heard of an Israeli-made car. The car I saw yesterday that caught my eye—I mean cars here, if you can believe that it’s possible, are even more boring than in the states. It’s just an endless string of faceless appliances.
It just looks like a tram ride. No colors no style. You know, they’re very pragmatic. But I saw, you know, one of these little hatchbacks yesterday on the highway and it had an MG logo on it!
Jason: Yeah, the Chinese-made thing.
Jerry: Right, yeah, I’ve never seen that—they don’t come to the states?
Jason: No, I’ve seen them in Europe. It’s jarring whenever you see one of these boring-ass little things with the MG octagonal badge it’s a weird experience.
Jerry: I mean that badge was really really the beginning of my car insanity when I saw that on this little dirt foreign car lot on Merrick Road in Massapequa when I was a kid. Probably 14 or 15. I loved that badge, the octagon. There was something so cool about it. Of course, those were the coolest cars that I had ever seen at that time.
Jason: Was that it like an MG TD you saw at the time, or would that have been like a Midget or something?
Jerry: No, that was Midgets and B’s.
Jason: Oh yeah sure. Yeah those are amazing cars. That’s exciting.
Jerry: Oh yeah. I still think the MGB is one of the most perfectly proportioned and designed—really the quintessence of what a two-seat sports car should be.
Jason: Oh yeah. And I love the GT, you know the little hatchback version they were harder to find but—
Jerry: Yeah, that always seemed like maybe if you’re 45 and you’ve got grown kids, then you get into an MGB GT. They seemed so mature to me.
Jason: Yeah, I totally agree. That’s fantastic. Well so what I was thinking we could do is just you know what are you going to talk about cars, really—
Jason: —and we’ll talk about, of course, your show. And I looked at your trailer and there seems to be some great cars there. I saw the Amazon and an Eldorado, front-driver Eldorado, I think, a 507. Is there any anything especially that you’d like us to watch out for in this coming season, with the cars?
Jerry: What’s launching tomorrow is the library of shows that we just completed, I guess, last spring. Before we moved over to Netflix. But the new shows don’t start until sometime mid-year.
Jason: Oh, OK.
Jerry: So what’s watching now is just the library of everything we’ve made, which I think is 59 shows.
Jason: Wow. That’s a lot.
Jason: Have you shot any of the stuff for mid year yet?
Jerry: Yeah, we shot everything for the new season, and now we’re in the middle of the laborious compressing.
Jason: Right. I guess you do that you do that by hand.
Jerry: I guess this is kind of, in coffee terms, this is kind of the ristretto concept of entertainment. Just a straight shot of caffeine in one gulp.
Jason: Perfect (note: I know shit about coffee. so I just said something noncommittal. —JT)
By the way, you know the Reliant Scimitar, you know that car?
Jason: I have one for sale I just thought I’d throw that out there if you’re if you’re looking for—
Jerry: Oh my God, yeah, just keep throwing that out. Isn’t that the car Jeremy Clarkson rolled over in a number of years ago?
Jason: No, that was the three-wheeled Robin.
Jerry: Oh, the Reliant Robin, right, right.
Jason: The Scimitar was the shooting brake with the V6.
Jerry: Oh, right, right.
Jason: So, you know, when you decide you want one just make sure to reach out.
Jerry: Okay, sure, so you’re trying to offload some of your detritus here.
Jason: Exactly. That’s the whole that’s the whole point of all these calls. See what I can dump off.
Jerry: What’s fun with cars, I find, obviously the biggest hit is when you buy anything. But selling it is also very exciting!
Jason: Yeah! It’s a complicated thing selling it because you’ve got a lot of attachment to these things and you’re never quite sure.
Jerry: Yeah, whether you like it or not, you get attached.
Jason: Yep, exactly. I just got a Nissan Pao, a little weird Japanese domestic market car, so now I have to kind of get rid of something.
Jerry: Oh yeah, I know those. I’ve heard those are pretty fun!
Jason: They’re a lot of fun! I love it. I mean it looks amazing because it’s like a greatest hits of 60s cars Renault 4 and 2CV—
Jason: —and it just drives, which is just something I’m not used to with the Scimitar. It’s Japanese the way it actually works, as opposed to British.
Jerry: Right, right.
Jason: It’s fun. Yeah I know a guy who’s got a bunch. I just fell in love with it and got one it was amazing. I’m still kind of in a honeymoon.
Jerry: Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard those are a lot of fun.
Jerry: That might be a good car for an episode sometime.
Jason: Any of those would be great. That would be great for the right person. So I guess that will lead into this—we should talk about the episode stuff. You’re really good at picking just picking the car to the person you’re talking to; I know that that’s probably a big part of what goes on. I’m sure a lot of your thought goes into what’s the right car.
Jason: So I thought what we do is I’m going to give you some some famous dead people who never really encountered cars and I’m going to see what car you might pick for them.
Jerry: (laughs) Okay.
Jason: So I’m going to start kind of easy because this guy was almost a comic. Would you pick for Mark Twain? They reanimate Mark Twain. What car do you throw him in?
Jerry: I have a friend who became obsessed with the idea of me doing dead comedian CGI, and doing episodes with all these great comedians with CGI until I had to explain to him that would cost about 5 million dollars an episode.
But, let’s see Mark Twain... well, that’s an amazing guy. I actually think—that’s pretty easy for me; to use a car you just mentioned which would be an MG TC, which was that was kind of the car that landed on our shores and just changed everybody’s mind instantly about what a car could be.
Just look at the culture that was spawned. Really, if you had a one car that created the sports car culture in the States that’s the car—that was the first domino.
There’s a lot of people you could name of course that invented stand up comedy but his name is as good as any. He went broke because he had invested in all these printing press companies. They knew the printing press was going to be massive but they didn’t know which company was going to grab the market. He lost everything betting on the wrong companies, but he went so broke he had to go on a worldwide stand up tour just to get back on his feet financially. And there’s a book about it that I’ve been reading.
Anyway, MG TC for Mark Twain.
Jason: That’s a good choice. I think he would look pretty good sitting in an MG TC.
Jerry: He would look good in it, right? With the beard and the—
Jason: Yes. And he’d dress up for it.
Jerry: Yeah, a long scarf.
Jason: Yeah, I think that’s a great choice actually. All right. So this may be a little trickier but it’s someone who always thought would probably be a gearhead were they alive: That’d be, uh, Leonardo da Vinci.
Jerry: Leonardo Da Vinci. OK, well you’re kind of going outside the boundaries here. The show is called Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.
Jason: I know. I’m just going dead people.
Jerry: Oh, you’re just going dead people? Okay, so you’re just going to make making your own show here.
Well, Leonardo da Vinci, I think it’s got to be a hovercraft. I would put him. He can’t be on the ground. He’s too forward thinking. There’s got to be something out there that you can buy privately and own that hovers.
Jason: Yeah, I think those exist, to some degree. You’ve got some pull, I bet you could find a hovercraft to use.
Jerry: Yeah, that’s what I’d use for Da Vinci.
Jason: Okay, that’s a good choice. So let’s go for another tough one: Genghis Khan.
Jerry: Genghis Khan? Jesus Christ.
Jason: We’ll assume there’s a translator.
Jerry: You have no concept of what I do. I’m a comedian. Stand-up comedy.
Jason: I know!
Jerry: (exasperated) Genghis Kahn is just a horse! You can’t get this guy off a horse.
Jason: I don’t know? You don’t think a G-Wagen?
Jerry: A horse!
Jason: All right. Fair enough. It was tricky with the—
Jerry: I mean, uh, how about one of those, uh, elliptical bicycles?
Jason: Oh, like a recumbent bike?
Jerry: Not recumbent, elliptical. A different type of contraption. You know what an elliptical exercise machine is?
Jason: Yeah yeah. Oh, I know what you’re talking about now.
Jerry: I’d put Genghis Khan on that. Just to take him down a peg.
Jason: All right, that’s fair. All right. Well, in a similar vein, I know you’re a big Superman fan.
Jason: I know he doesn’t do a lot of comedy, at least not anymore. If you had to take him in a car— he is a tough guy, because he doesn’t normally need that kind of thing. So, what do you put him in?
Jerry: Ummmm... maybe a Hellcat? What’s the new one with those little wheels on the front?
Jason: The Demon. The Dodge Demon.
Jerry: The Dodge Demon! I’m picking the Dodge Demon for Superman. In his colors.
Jason: Do you think power is going to be what impresses him? Maybe. maybe it would go that way.
Jerry: Do I think what?
Jason: Do you think it’s the power that’s going to impress him?
Jerry: Yes, the power. Super powers, you gotta have something like that. I mean the Bugatti is too much of a rich person’s car.
Superman is a man of the people. So that, to me, the ultimate muscle car. It’s got to be American, because he is such a great American hero. Yeah. Yeah so, uh, Dodge Demon.
Jason: All right. That’s pretty good.
Jerry: For the Man of Steel.
Jason: Okay, let’s try the opposite way now. So, I’m going to give a car and then you think of someone you think that car would be good for it. How about that?
Jason: How about a Tatra T87?
Jerry: The Tatra T87. Well, hm. That’s kind of advanced and retarded at the same time.
Jason: Yeah, it is.
Jerry: So, uh, what would that be? I think I might put Rodney [Dangerfield] in that car. A great car, but really didn’t get any respect.
Jason: Yeah, that’s a good choice actually. That would be a good episode.
Jason: I wrote this when I wrote Velorex, but then I realized it was also Czechoslovakian, and I didn’t want to necessarily go too Czech. So if you don’t want to do that, what about a Messerschmitt Tiger? You pick whichever one.
Jerry: A Messerschmitt Tiger. Um, well, it’s gotta be somebody small, right?
Jason: Yeah, that’s really the only choice you’ve got.
Jerry: Yeah that’s a tiny little thing. Um, really funny small person. Um, I don’t know, let’s say the little people from the Wizard of Oz.
Jason: One of those guys? OK. Sure it would be good visuals.
[At this point Jerry’s handler breaks in to say we’re almost out of time.]
Jason: All right Jerry, say I gave you two grand. What are you going to buy?
Jerry: Two grand?
Jason: Two grand. Not a lot of money. I’m not a rich man.
Jerry: Probably a Chevy Nova. I always wanted a Nova. I mean the Camaro just seemed so far out of reach. I could never get enough money for that. But the Nova was a car that I thought well maybe some day, if I work really hard, I could afford that.
So I love that era of Chevy. It just was, um, you know it kind of seemed like GM had it under control. GM kind of even made sense way back when I was a kid, GM from ‘68 to ‘73. There was a logic to it! And the Nova was kind of the entry point that you could get in, and I love Chevy anyway. So I love Chevy Nova and SS Nova. If I could get something like that for two grand, which I don’t know if you could or what condition, I would go for that.
Jason: That’s a good choice.
Jerry: A great dream—unfulfilled—of my childhood. Now that you mentioned it, another good car for the show—I’m gonna do one of those one time.
Jason: Yeah, it would be good, actually. All right. One last thing since they’re going to kick me off soon: Is there a car you just always irrationally hated? One you just cannot deal with?
Jerry: That’s funny, that’s a good question. Irrationally hated.
Jason: Yeah. No reason, it just irrationally gets to you.
Jerry: I think for some reason I am sorry to say a lot of Lexus products make me very upset and angry. I have a visceral reaction. I never liked the logo: An ‘L’ in a circle is just so offensively unbalanced.
Jason: Yeah, you’re right.
Jerry: Why would you put an L in a circle?
Jason: It just connects one side.
Jerry: It just so graphically offends me. And then the cars came out, the early cars like the LS 400, which is a great achievement in many ways, and was the beginning of the car as a living tomb that you could drive around in.
Even more than a Cadillac. Cadillac had an arrogance that I liked. And my dad always liked them, so I liked them. But Lexus just really perfected the idea of a coffin on wheels. Now I think they’re probably better than that. But the logo just makes me insane.
Jason: Their new grille is terrible, too. It’s a terrifying-looking thing.
Jerry: Terrifying! Horrible! Offensive design language, offensive.
Jason: Right. By the way, my daily, the car I drive every day and I’ve had since I was 18 is a ‘73 Beetle, and I know you’re a VW fan, too.
Jerry: Wow, ‘73! That’s an odd choice. Is it a Super or a standard?
Jason: Standard. Standard Beetle, flat windscreen, torsion bars, all that stuff.
Jerry: Wow, pretty nice! What color is it?
Jason: Yellow. I’ve got a black racing stripe on it too because it’s, you know, very fast.
Jerry: Wow! That’s a cool car. (likely just being nice at this point—jt)
Jason: Yeah, I love it. It was actually stolen a few years back and people from the website helped me find it and recover it.
Jerry: Oh, that’s fantastic.
Jason: It was amazing. Motor was gone, but it was a good chance to put a new twin-carb motor in it. So yeah. But I’ve seen your show you love the Beetles— you’ve that cop Beetle which is amazing, and you had a couple of really vintage ones so I’m very happy.
Jerry: I considered doing an entire season of just Beetles. Because I feel like I could match a person up to just an era and type of Beetle.
Jason: I’d love that, you have no idea. That’s fantastic. All right, well thanks so much for doing this, Jerry. This has been a lot of fun.
Jerry: Thank you, Jason, this was a lot of fun.
Jason: Yeah and have fun there in Israel!
Jerry: Bye bye.