Slacktory

The Jerry Seinfeld Program

Web shows get no respect. Most of them don’t deserve any. But some are astounding. We’re gonna look for the best web show ever. First up: The Jerry Seinfeld Program.

Most of you will hate this show. It’s absurdist — not “absurd,” like “fun wacky hijinks”. This is some Samuel Beckett shit here. And it gets disturbing.

The Jerry Seinfeld Program is a deconstruction of Seinfeld, with just George and Jerry (played by Arthur Meyer and Dan Klein), always in Jerry’s apartment. In the first episode, George swears off beans:

So far, this parody of Seinfeld banter might seem simply bad. I promise you there’s genius behind it.

Episode 2 is pretty typical of the rest of the series:

If you hated that, you can quit now. Because this is the essence of The Jerry Seinfeld Program: Awkwardly waiting for the joke to end in a release, and realizing that nope, they’re just going to make you uncomfortable.

And that’s particularly genius with a Seinfeld parody. These guys are mocking an unassailable sitcom the only reasonable way: By exposing its rigid structure and reminding us that, even though its innovations changed comedy for the last two decades, it was still a very traditional show compared to the stuff we can see now on Adult Swim.

There’s a whole middle stretch of similar episodes, of which “Cotton Eye Joe” is probably the most actual fun:

 

This next episode teases Seinfeld‘s wordplay and classifications of people. This is also where the show starts breaking down (like, more):

 

The next step is to break the fourth wall. This used to have some power, but it’s such a typical trick from any young, amateur or “edgy” production that The Jerry Seinfeld Program has to find a new way to make it interesting. Now they’re not just making the audience uncomfortable, but presumably some real friend of Dan Klein’s. Fucking genius:

 

Adding a fake laugh track is most effective when you selectively remove that laugh track. This next episode makes the silence disturbing. It also mocks Seinfeld‘s rejection of meaningful human attachment.

 

Things are falling apart, and now this fictional show has a backstory: We’re watching a parallel universe where Seinfeld was never canceled.

 

HA HA WHAT.

 

So George and Jerry decide to do their own shows. I actually almost cried the first time I saw Jerry break down here. SHUT UP.

 

The end comes with Jerry’s dignity stolen…

 

And one last merciless horror.

 

So! That’s The Jerry Seinfeld Program, a comedy! Watch the rest here.

Is this a show about the disconnect between the petty, inhuman world of Seinfeld and the real world of consequences and death? Or is it just an experiment in what you can get away with and how cruel you can be to your viewers?

It’s definitely a show for comedians. One early fan was CollegeHumor’s Amir Blumenfeld. It’s comedy for the kind of person who responds to jokes with “Hey, that’s funny” and then plans to steal the technique. At least I hope someone steals some techniques, because The Jerry Seinfeld Program just re-invented the subgenre of deconstructive parody.

  • Production quality: 6
  • Sharpness: 8
  • Innovation: 9
  • Rewatchability: 4
  • Mass appeal: 2
  • Best Web Show?: No, but whoever makes the best web show will appreciate this one.

Klein has a new, filthy parody of generic three-camera sitcoms this year: Take the Wheel.

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