Seinfeld

Remember Jerry Seinfeld? In a recent New York Times article Jerry talks about his new method of creating comedy bits.

At a recent stand-up comedy performance, as Jerry was starting one of his routines, a heckler yelled out “Heard it!” Despite his experience at dealing with hecklers, the comment really stung and from that moment on, Jerry swore he would never re-use old material again.

Can you imagine not being able to sing the same song twice? Did you ever hear of a musician or comedian who only performed new material? Could a singer/songwriter ever make such a claim?

I know writing songs and writing comedy bits are two very different endeavors. But work with me here, they both require your creative faculties and both can be subject to writer’s block. If someone discovers a method that works for comedy, wouldn’t you be interested in hearing it and judging for yourself whether it can be applied to music?

Here’s what Jerry does. For three hours he wanders around his Upper West Side neighborhood, watching people, stopping in shops and generally observing life in that part of New York City, looking for something that might spark a comedy routine.

He then spends the rest of the afternoon writing comedy based on the day’s observations. It’s clearly a challenge he is enjoying.

And later, on the evening of that same day, he will show up unannounced at a comedy club and perform the new material to see how it works. I’m not clear whether this was a one time experiment for the Times article or if he plans to do this again.

He says he didn’t know if it would work or not. However, in the article on that one day when he was being interviewed, it appeared to work.

Now I’m not recommending we all go out and announce that we’ll never play the same song twice. That would be ludicrous. But, the idea of observing everyday life is a good one, whether you have lots of free time like Jerry Seinfeld or you have a very busy schedule with one or more full time jobs, a family and other commitments.

Quick example: you must have people in your work place who really get on your nerves. You probably spend time every day observing or interacting with them. Focus on those observations and
interactions as fodder for a song. Do the same with the people you admire on the job. Do the same with the person who serves you coffee or drives the bus, delivers your mail, etc.

Here’s a famous guy who is so successful he doesn’t have to work anymore. He’s made enough money to live off the interest in high style for the rest of his life. Or at least that’s what I imagine. Who knows about these superstars. Maybe they blow it all in one night in Vegas or give it all away to charities.

At any rate, Jerry Seinfeld felt he needed a new challenge and he created one for himself. As songwriters, we can learn from that, too.

Know any songwriters who could benefit from our blog? Please forward this post to them. Your recommendation is the best way to spread the word.

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One Response to “Seinfeld”

  1. helipad Says:

    “Heard it!” You’d think as a comedian Jerry would have had a thicker skin. To be fair, he definitely turned it around into something that worked for him.

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