Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles -My first guest is one of my all-time favorite comedians. He has a new book out called "Is This Anything?" which is filled with 45 years worth of his stand-up material, and it is so good, I mean, like, the best stand-up material. You can just read this, and even if even if you're not funny, you sound funny. That's how good it is. Before we say hello to Jerry, please take a look at this iconic moment from his career. Here he is throwing out the first pitch at Citi Field last year. -He does the Turk Wendell move, slamming the jacket down. Then with the exaggerated wind-up comes sidearm like Terry Leach and throws a perfect strike. -Very nice. -Here he is, Jerry Seinfeld, everybody! -Jimmy, I can't believe you showed that. That's my favorite thing! -That's the thing. I always mess up your intro. I figured I'd give you, for Thanksgiving this year -- You're always on tradition, but it's fun. You're always here on Thanksgiving. -Yes. I love always being with you on Thanksgiving, on TV. 'Cause we don't want real Thanksgiving. We want TV Thanksgiving. -Yeah. -Right? That's what we like. -Yeah. We don't do the -- No. What would we do at a real Thanksgiving? No. -No. You got to laugh at real Thanksgiving. What the hell good is it? -No, this is exactly -- -You want to get a laugh, that means money in the bank. -Thank you. You know me so well. [ Both laugh ] I want to talk about the book. But first, how is the family? How's Jessica? How's Sascha? -Everyone -- -They're all good? -All good. Thank you for asking. How about yours? -They're great. They're cute. It's awesome. But, I mean, my kids are -- They're little. I mean, your kids are -- -They're still your kids Don't diminish them because they're young. -I know, but they won't see this. I mean, I'll show this to them when they're older, you know? They're 5 and 7 right now, so -- -Oh, that's nice. -But your kids are 17. They're teenagers. 20. -17, 15, and 20, yeah. -Wow. 20 years old. How is it? How is it with teenagers and older kids? -The greatest. It only gets better. Everything gets better. And I like teenagers a lot because of the hostility, the -- They're great debaters. They will fight you. They will break down your flaws in your logic. -Yeah. -So it really works better for me. Jessica was a great mom, but I really want to engage more syntactically. -Yeah. Oh, and do you debate? You get in good debates with the kids? -Sure, all the time. It's constant. Well, I -- The problem with married life I think for a man, for a husband, is the amount of room for you to complain just gets smaller because it gets taken up by the other people. -Complaining, yeah. There's only so much complaining that can happen. -Yeah. You go, "Well --" You know, I'm lucky to get in a, "Where's the remote?" That's as much as I can complain. -Yeah, because you've made these humans and -- -Yeah. "Maybe you could put it back in the charger when you're done with it." -You think? -Yeah. -Jessica sent out a very funny post during quarantine. It said that because you have nowhere to perform, right now, you walk around all day yelling. [ Both laugh ] I think that that's accurate. -Do you yell when you talk in the house? 'Course you do. -Yeah, you have to. There's no one else. -Yeah, you want to use your stage voice, 'cause I'm not using it. I'm using it right now. -Yep. -But nobody wants to hear this volume for -- -For all day long. -Are you done with the maple syrup? Then put it back in the middle of the table so I can reach it. -[ Laughs ] -I just said that the other day, 'cause I do it -- I do it all the time. I want to talk about the new book, "Is This Anything?" "Is This Anything?" -Yeah, I love the way you said it, 'cause that is how we say it. -Right? That's the title. -It's something you say. Yeah. -You have an idea for a bit, and you go, "Hey, is this anything?" [ Both laugh ] -Yeah. -And what do we hope that people say? -You hope they laugh, but you have to say something. This says, "Here -- Bit coming. Here comes a bit." -Yes, that's true. -'Cause you can't just go into it. Well, sometimes you can, but -- -Yeah, that's what I've been trying to do with Nancy. I can't -- I have to say, "I have an idea for a bit," and then I do it, because -- -Right. -Yeah, because if I just try to get into it, it's too weird, and it's like, "Wait, why are you talking about, you know, golf or something?" I don't know what I was trying -- -Right, to Nancy, you would say, "I have an idea for a bit." To me, you would say, "Is this anything?" 'cause I know all we're interested in is bits anyway. -Yeah, exactly right. Yeah. -I wouldn't wonder what "this" is. -Yeah. "Is this anything?" means, yeah, is this a joke or is this somewhere where I can try something? -Yeah, can I get a laugh with this somehow? -Uh, you know, I wanted to ask when I'm looking at all these, 'cause, gosh, you go through all the decades. It's awesome. -Yeah, decade by decade. Well, I turned 65, and I thought, "Well, that's the end of regulation." I reached the end of regulation, and I should turn something in. You know, who knows? -Who knows? -Let's have it out there. Okay, this is what I did. Just wanted to make something that I could leave and go, "This is what I spent my life doing, if you're interested." -Yeah. Is this for comedians? Is it just for fans of comedy? -Oh, anybody that likes comedy I think would like it, but I thought a lot about comedians being able to look at it and kind of figure out, "Oh, that's how he set that joke up. I can --" So I did it in double space so you can kind of analyze it if you want. "Well, how does he get from that line to that line?" -That's -- I was going to talk about this, I swear! -Really? -I love that you did this. I've never seen it done before. Even in the first chapter, is you talking about the book. and you -- I've never seen -- Look at the spacing on this. -Yeah, I double-spaced it. -And I loved this 'cause I could do my own timing of reading this, every single line. I've never seen it like that, and it's set up, the whole book. It was brilliant. -Oh, I'm glad you liked it. -I swear -- I wish I said it before you said it, because I really -- I loved it. I go, "Oh, my gosh." And I thought, blah, blah, blah. And I'm reading it in the rhythm. And I go, "This is so easy and fun to read," before you get into the material. -Yeah. -And then I go, "Oh." -Well, good stand-up is really like song lyrics or poetry. It's very kind of organized. It's a very organized progression... -Yeah. Here's the bridge. -...like good music is. -Yeah. Here's the chorus. Here's the bridge. -Yes. -Here's the -- Yeah. Do you look at any of these bits and go like, "I could make that better right now. I could punch that a little"? -Yes. Yes, I do. But I -- You know, anybody could look at their early work and go, "Oh, my gosh. This is not as good as I got later on." And I started doing that when I was looking at the earliest stuff. And then I thought, "That's not really fair to your young self who was --" 'Cause that stuff, whatever it is, it got you to the next step, which got to the next step and the next step. So I thought, I'm going to be nicer to this early stuff instead of going, "Oh, my gosh. This is so infantile. This is so basic. This is so hacky," whatever it is. But it got you there. It got you from being just -- I was just a kid in my room to onstage at Catch a Rising Star on First Avenue and 78th Street. -Yeah. I love that. You set the stage so well, like, sitting as a kid watching the TV, eating cereal in a horizontally striped shirt, I think I want to say. And you're watching, you're going, "How can these people talk like this?" You're watching "Ed Sullivan Show." And you go, "I'm going to see if I can do that." And you were eating a -- No, you're eating cereal. But then you said later in that thing, you go, "I just want to do it for laughs. That's really what I want to do this for, but also, if I just have -- If I can make enough money to buy Wonder Bread and Skippy peanut butter, I'm set." -Yeah. -Yeah. -I thought, how funny do you have to be to make enough to just get a loaf of Wonder Bread and a jar of Skippy a week?" 'cause I could survive on that. -When -- When was the last time you had peanut butter on bread? -Today. [ Both laugh ] -Was it good? -Yeah, it's good. -Yeah, it's the best. I don't know what they make Wonder Bread out of, but wow. It is fantastic. That's what makes it a wonder. -It's not bread. It's better than bread. -It's more wonder. It's more wonder than bread. -Yeah. You wonder. -You wonder, "What the heck am I eating?" -You wonder, "What is this?" [ Both laugh ] There you go. That's something. -That's something. I'm telling you. Here's you in the Comic Strip, which I loved. -Yeah. -Do you remember your first night, and were you nervous? Were you -- Is it that butterflies? Were you cocky? What was it like the first -- -I was catatonically nervous. I didn't -- I didn't think I was funny. I didn't think -- I didn't know if I was funny. My friends thought I was funny, but I was not convinced of it. -Yeah. -And so my friend told me that Humphrey Bogart would always have a shot of Scotch before he would do something difficult. So we went to the bar next door to Catch a Rising Star, and we threw down a shot of Scotch. -Did that help? -No. -No. [ Both laugh ] No, of course not. It did nothing. You're just starting out. I think that's a thing about stand-up, too. It's like, even -- even now when you do a joke, I don't know if I'm funny. -You don't know. You're not. If the joke's not funny, you're not in that moment. -Yeah. -In that moment you're -- you're absolutely nothing of what you want to be. -If you get a laugh, you're everything that you want to be. -It's the best feeling in the world. -Yeah. And the worst. -And the worst if you don't, -If you don't. -Yeah, that's -- -And that's what people I think are attracted to it for. They want to see a person -- That's why I watch baseball.