Tuesday, March 31, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Jerry Seinfeld’s bad joke

navarrette column sig

By
From page A11 | February 13, 2014 |

SAN DIEGO — Unlike the theme of the hit television show he helped create, the brouhaha involving Jerry Seinfeld and comedians of color is not about nothing.

For me, it brings to mind a distant memory. Almost 30 years ago, in a dorm room on the Charles River, I found myself in a heated argument with a white roommate over affirmative action. At one point, he insisted that when it came to doling out admissions spots at universities or professional opportunities in the job market, the benefit should go not to the underrepresented minority but to “the most qualified” applicant. The problem was that – in his worldview – the minority and “the most qualified” were never the same person.

Now, Seinfeld seems to be making the same mistake. Apparently, there are those comedians who are funny – the vast majority being white males. Imagine the odds of that. And then over here, in a separate pile, there are those comedians who are African-American, Latino, Asian-American or Native American. And the really enlightened approach is to only draw talent from the funny pile. Anything else is political correctness, which has no place in the serious world of comedy.

We know this because of how defensive Seinfeld became during a recent interview when he was asked on “CBS This Morning” about the criticism that he has received for the glaring lack of racial and ethnic diversity in his quirky new Web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

The concept is simple enough. Seinfeld pulls up to a fellow comedian’s house in a vintage automobile, and the two then go have coffee and talk about, well, nothing in particular. By the way, it’s usually a “him” given that, out of more than two dozen clips, only two women were invited for coffee. There were also two non-white comedians who made the cut.

Questioned by BuzzFeed Business Editor Peter Lauria about the lack of diversity, Seinfeld got aggressive. “People think it’s the census or something,” he said. “This has gotta represent the actual pie chart of America? Who cares? Funny is the world that I live in. You’re funny, I’m interested. You’re not funny, I’m not interested. I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that.”

Again, see above. It’s not either/or. Women and minorities can be funny. And there are plenty of hilarious comedians out there who are women or minorities. Paging George Lopez, Chris Tucker and Margaret Cho.

Seinfeld made things worse when he went on to say that approaching comedy through a racial lens was “anti-comedy” because “It’s more about PC nonsense than ‘Are you making us laugh or not?'”

So looking at the world through a racial lens is “anti-comedy?” Who knew? It seems that Seinfeld has never heard of Richard Pryor, Freddie Prinze, Dick Gregory, or Cheech and Chong. He doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Besides, it’s not like the comedian has the best track record on diversity. As others have noted, “Seinfeld” – the hit show that he co-created with Larry David and which lasted nine seasons (1989-1998) – seems to have been set in a bizarro world version of New York where one of the most diverse cities in the world was depicted as almost exclusively white.

Actually, that’s not totally fair. I’ve seen just about every “Seinfeld” episode, and I remember a few Latino characters. There was the thick-accented cockfighter, the thick-accented hotel maid, the thick-accented street thug, the thick-accented rioters at a Puerto Rican Day parade. You know, ordinary folks – the sort that I run across every day in my community.

Besides, take a look at the Web series. This isn’t “Masterpiece Theater” we’re talking about. What does it take to be qualified for this gig? You have to be funny, enjoy coffee and be willing to get into a car with Jerry Seinfeld.

I would venture a guess that there are, in the vast universe of comedy in America, a number of comedians of color who have the chops to pull this off. It just seems that Seinfeld doesn’t know many of them. He really needs to get out more – and not just for coffee.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at [email protected]

Ruben Navarrette

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 7 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • my2centsFebruary 13, 2014 - 5:05 am

    The phenomenon Navarette discusses in this article is not exclusive to Jerry Seinfeld. I've noticed that not that many people have diversity within their pool of friends. I think the ability for people to socialize comfortably amoung different races and genders is actually a pretty rare art. It is acquired in many ways, such as through one's environment from a young age, parents who celebrate culture, music and food of many races, cultures and genders, and a general love of people. Most People spend the majority of their time focusing on ways others are different from them which can foster fear and tension. I have even found that when one of us rare individuals with a diverse group of friends tries to bring along a friend of a different race or culture to a family or social event, it changes the dynamic of the group. That is ok, but it can be uncomfortable and misleading when one is defined by what they look like. I really don't see Jerry Seinfeld as the type of guy who, if dropped in the middle of a group of Mexican or African American men, would be comfortable. The reverse is often true as well. I know a lot of friends who are not white who would be equally uncomfortable dropped in the middle of a group of white people. I feel sort of sad for these people. They miss out on so much of the world. It is not always easy to venture out of your comfort zone in friendships, but it is almost always a worthwhile adventure.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JBFebruary 13, 2014 - 6:12 am

    It is ok to have have all black schools like Grambling and nothing is said about that.It is perfectly acceptable. All black fraternities are good. If a white person does something that does not involve being diversified these days they are looked at as insensitive and closed minded why?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Teach5thFebruary 13, 2014 - 7:12 am

    Looking at this article takes me back to talks of affirmative action in hiring firefighters and in college admissions. Ruben writes that when looking at affirmative action the " most qualified" and the " minority" we're never the same person. I remember discussions years ago about affirmative action and firefighters. Seems like there just weren't enough women firefighters. The discussions always got down to "if your 250 lb. father was in a burning building, who would you want to try to save him?" The logical answer was "the most qualified person". Not much conversation was necessary after that. Now, we have comedians coming under fire. I watch old Seinfeld episodes nightly. Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld are very funny writers. They have a right to use whoever they choose since they're the ones paying. Jerry Seinfeld might be "defensive" in Ruben's eyes. Maybe it's not him being defensive - maybe he, like so many other Americans, is tired of all the political correct nonsense and simply told it like it is. Not that there's anything wrong with that:)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksFebruary 13, 2014 - 7:37 am

    Teach5th, well said we agree on something! :)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • The MisterFebruary 13, 2014 - 7:24 am

    Ummm... Bill Cosby? Here's a thought... if the minority comedians would refrain from bad language and overt sexual content, perhaps more people would find them funny. Perhaps, too, if more minorities converted to Judaism, like Sammy Davis Jr, then they would be allowed to become more popular. Also, today's comedy is not nearly as funny as comedy from the old days. Leno was no where near as funny as Carson. A lot has to do with the dumbing down of comedy... comedy lacks wit lately. I don't find them funny because they are minorities, I don't find them funny because they aren't funny.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • patrickFebruary 13, 2014 - 3:36 pm

    suppose tv shows should get rid of the canned laughter. just use live audiences. that should be proof of funny.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MarkFebruary 13, 2014 - 10:16 am

    Seinfield has a show, that show ultimately is to attract viewers, which in turn attracts sponsorship which makes him money. He's going to pick the people that he (or his producers) think are going to attract the most viewers. Is it Seinfield's fault if the majority of minority comedians aren't considered funny/interesting enough to be brought on the show? I don't like a lot of today's comedians, not because of their race/skin color/country of origin/whatever but because they aren't funny to me with their foul language, overtly sexual content or just stupid jokes. if we're to the point where we're worrying about what comedian Seinfield brings on his show, then we must have solved a lot of really important issues, like the national debt, poverty, world peace to name a few.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Records detail shooting victim’s court history

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 24 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Free Healthier Living workshops begin this week

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Frazier to deliver keynote at Solano EDC event

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B10

 
25th annual Rush Ranch Open House on April calendar

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A2

 
Helen Mirren film set for debut

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
 
Saturday Club schedules Shower of Flowers event

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

WIB to host regional career fair

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
Group plans Haiti missions fundraisers

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Travel presentation ready to roll in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
.

US / World

 
 
Ex-FBI agent sentenced to 10 years in Afghan kickback scheme

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
BNSF railroad adds new safety rules for crude oil trains

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
California leaders routinely use private email

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

 
Endangered bighorn sheep moved to Yosemite, Sequoia parks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Church van crashes into canal, killing 8 and injuring 10

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tennessee pastor, son who saved 3 boys among Carnegie Heroes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NSA: Car smashes into police vehicle at Fort Meade; 1 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Former Israeli Premier Olmert convicted in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prosecutors: Co-pilot treated for suicidal tendencies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Guinea shuts border with Sierra Leone in effort to end Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Saudi-led forces strike Yemen rebels, blockade ports

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iran nuclear talks near deadline; differences remain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prosecution rests its case against Boston Marathon bomber

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Opinion

Rebuild Gaza to avert next war

By Former President Jimmy Carter | From Page: A13

 
Reid’s US Senate legacy: Obstruction

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A13, 20 Comments

State moves up national school spending chart

By Dan Walters | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: March 31, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

Animal Planet lives wild with its new programming slate

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Attorney: Robin Williams’ wife wants to keep wedding tuxedo

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Eliane Elias enjoys musical homecoming on new CD

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
5 things to know about new ‘Daily Show’ anchor Trevor Noah

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3, 2 Comments | Gallery

TVGrid March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Four No. 1 seeds in the women’s Final Four

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
UConn reaches 8th straight Final Four with win over Dayton

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Grizzlies beat Kings 97-83 to end three-game skid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cauley-Stein, Kaminsky, Okafor among Wooden Award finalists

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Hendricks’ shutout streak ends, Cubs top Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Lawrie hits 2 homers as A’s rout Rockies 11-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Montoya has swagger back, but also shows softer side

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
A year later than expected, Michigan St back in Final Four

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Connecticut governor: move ’16 Final Four unless law changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders re-sign free agent defensive lineman C.J. Wilson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

2 Alabama players arrested in separate weekend cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Falcons fined, lose draft pick for pumping in fake noise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Racial quotas controversy re-emerges in South African sport

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL suspends Browns GM for texting, team holds onto picks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Kaminsky, Okafor lead 2014-15 AP All-America team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Ex-NASCAR driver gets jail after 3-state high-speed chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Nebraska, winner in 14 of last 15, at front of Big Ten surge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
McGraw appreciates Notre Dame women’s run more than ever

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Gonzaga’s great season ends in Elite Eight but more ahead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
StubHub files lawsuit against Ticketmaster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

Judge again rules Joe Paterno can’t sue for contract breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Free agent linebacker Lance Briggs visiting with 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fiancee says she discarded box at Aaron Hernandez’s request

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
.

Business

US consumer spending edges up 0.1 percent in February

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Business forecasters boost 2-year outlook for US economy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Amazon.com offering to help get jobs done around the house

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

McDonald’s to test all-day breakfast beginning in April

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
SEC files fraud charges against Lynn Tilton, firms

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

US university, foundation invested in frozen Chinese stocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Regulators plan to drop case at closed California nuke plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Michigan entrepreneur claiming idea for Heinz Dip & Squeeze

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

For Better or Worse March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Zits March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Get Fuzzy March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Bridge March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Sudoku March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Baby Blues March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

B.C. March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Peanuts March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baldo March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Dilbert March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Beetle Bailey March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Sally Forth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Pickles March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Wizard of Id March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Discover Solano Spring/Summer 2015

Ryde Hotel a speakeasy from the past

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS11

Walnut Grove shows a bit of historic Japan

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS12

Fresh, fruity, summer and fall Delta pitstops

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS16

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Benicia

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS21

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Benicia Fire Museum

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS22

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Dixon

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS23

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Jepson Prairie

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS24

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Fairfield

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS25

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS26

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Jelly Belly Candy Co.

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS26

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Fairfield Aquatics Complex

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS27

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Travis Air Museum

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS27

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun Valley

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS29

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Manka’s Corner

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS31

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Glashoff’s Studio

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS32

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS32

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Rio Vista

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS33

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Brannan Island State Park

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS34

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Foster’s Bighorn Bar

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS35

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Sandy Beach

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS35

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun City

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS37

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun City waterfront

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS38

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Rush Ranch

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS39

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun Wildlife Center

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS39

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Vacaville

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS40

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Nut Tree Plaza

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS43

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Vallejo

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS45

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Bay Area Ridge Trail

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS46

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS46

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Solano County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS48

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Golf Courses

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS49

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Western Railway Museum

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS49

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Grizzly Island

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS50

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Calendar of Events

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS52

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Winters

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS54

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Napa County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS55

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Sonoma County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS57

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Yolo County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS58