PERFORMING ARTS

Is This Anything?

S. & S. Oct. 2020. 480p. ISBN 9781982112691. $35. TV
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Seinfeld’s title is a question comedians ask one another when testing new material, and whether this book is anything depends on the reader. It’s surely something that Seinfeld has compiled the best of 45 years of his comedy. Pulling from his archive of yellow legal pads, this master of observational humor groups his bits by decade, taking us from the 1970s through today. His time-spanning material ranges from pay-phone calls to texting emojis, from adolescent memories to life as a 60-plus-year-old family man, and from Life cereal to death by coronavirus. Each decade is introduced with a few paragraphs explaining where Seinfeld was in his career when he wrote a particular bit, but these serve merely as brief preambles to the material.
VERDICT Despite the self-deprecating title, Seinfeld has assembled his greatest hits. Readers will delight in seeing how he mined a shifting landscape of inane commercial products, societal norms, and myriad pet peeves for laughs. Just don’t expect him to reveal how all this magic works.

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